GREAT FALLS – Gavin Cline’s goal in overtime gave the Helena Bighorns a 4-3 win over the Great Falls Americans in the NA3HL Frontier playoff series opener.
Helena overcame an early two goal deficit, after the Americans scored twice in the first four minutes of the game. Payton McSharry scored on a breakaway less than two minutes into the first period. Kyler Mack made it 2-0 Americans with a goal at the 16:26 mark of the first period.
The Bighorns answered with goals from Kaden Lindberg and Jarrett Scheibel just before the horn to end the first period tied at 2-2.
Cline scored at the 8:03 mark of the second period to give Helena a 3-2 advantage before Matt Janke knocked in the equalizer off an assist from Dustin Truex to tie the game once again.
Neither team scored in the twenty minute third period to send the game to overtime, where Cline provided the heroics to take a 1-0 lead in the best of three series.
Nick Battaglia earned the win in goal for Helena with 33 saves, while Drew Scites recorded 37 saves for Great Falls in the loss.
The series shifts to Helena now with the puck set to drop in the Helena Ice Arena at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.