GREAT FALLS — Nathan Gilleshammer scored twice and Simon Herz added one goal and dished two assists as the top-ranked Sheridan (Wyo.) Hawks downed the second-seeded Great Falls Americans 4-1 in the opener of the NA3HL Frontier Division Finals at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Thursday night.
Micah Serino scored Great Falls' goal. The Americans (29-12-3-0) must win Game 2 to force a deciding game to earn a spot in the 2021 NA3HL Fraser Cup National Tournament next week in St. Peters, Missouri.
Sheridan (42-1-0-0) struck first 9:30 into the game on a goal by Herzl with assists Justin Schwartzmiller and Nick Wieben.
Wieben and Gilleshammer pushed the Hawks ahead 3-0 in the middle period. Herz assisted on both scoring plays and Logan Syrup accrued his third assist of the playoffs.
The Americans' drought ended with 10 seconds remaining as Serino scored off a pass from Bryson Fletcher and Jackson Henningsgard.
The Hawks' Nathan Gilleshammer recorded the fourth score on the short-handed scoring drive with 90 seconds remaining.
The series heads to Sheridan for Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Whitney Rink. If Great Falls were to win decisive game three will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Sheridan.