GREAT FALLS — The Missoula Junior Bruins scored first and had a more successful special teams unit, but they couldn't match the Great Falls onslaught on Saturday.
The hosting Americans out-shot Missoula 56-26, and Great Falls won the NA3HL hockey matchup, 5-3.
The Junior Bruins briefly held the lead however.
Tyler Young put Missoula on the board first with a goal 11 minutes, 16 seconds into the second period. Cameron Cunningham helped out on the Young goal, accounting for Cunningham's eighth assist of the season.
But Great Falls would come back to take the lead less than two minutes later. Ben Rinckey scored the 1-1 equalizer at 12:29, and 31 seconds later Tanner Rath had given the Americans a 2-1 lead. The two teams that went scoreless for over a half hour suddenly couldn't be stopped on offense.
Missoula's Misha Akatnov added to the second-period scoring frenzy, tying the game 2-2 with his 20th goal of the season. The power-play goal, coming with 4:11 remaining in the period, was the only man-advantage score for either team. Great Falls came back with a Payton McSharry shot and score to grab a 3-2 lead at the period's end.
Kody Thomas scored four minutes into the third period, giving Great Falls an insurance goal, which turned into the game winner. Missoula's Isaac Vincent scored two minutes after Thomas, but the Junior Bruins could draw no closer.
Brian Thomas earned a loss in net for Missoula (8-10-1) despite stopping 51 of 56 shots. Mack Willy got the win for Great Falls (13-4-2) between the pipes with a 23-for-26 save performance.