(Editor's note: Report by Merrick Parnell)
BOZEMAN -- The Bozeman Icedogs made a statement in their 2019-20 home opener after shutting out the Helena Bighorns 6-0 on Saturday night. The Bighorns came into the game as the defending Frontier Division Champions in the North American Three Hockey League (NA3HL.)
Five different Icedogs scored in the victory, with Will Kutch netting two. Luke Hartge, Christian Venaruzzo, Hazen McKay and Sam Bourdon also chipped in with a goal apiece. AJ Ruskowski had a huge showing in goal for Bozeman, stopping 37 of 37 shots.
The Icedogs came into Saturday night’s game after beating the Bighorns in Helena the night before by a score of 4-3. Ruskowski would make 45 saves in the game, while Veneruzzo led the Icedogs' offense with two goals.
“We had two good team wins this weekend, and our defensive core had two great games, led by our veterans and younger players gaining confidence with every game,” said Ruskowski. “We really showed spurts of how good we can be this year, and it should be an exciting year in Bozeman.”
The Icedogs now hold a 7-0 record this season and sit atop the Frontier Division ahead of Gillette, Wyo. (6-1) and Great Falls (5-2.) The Icedogs will play the Yellowstone Quake next weekend in a home and home series with Friday night’s game in Bozeman
The Butte Cobras, meanwhile, took on the always-tough Gillette Wild this past weekend in a two-game series in Butte. The Cobras would drop the Friday night series opener 6-2. Kyler Garsjo and Robin Bagley would score a goal each for Butte, while Ty Stovin had two assists and Hunter Varney added another helper.
On Saturday night, the Cobras dropped the contest 9-2 to the Wild. The Wild scored eight goals on the power play in the game and put 72 shots on goal. Butte Goalie Aiden Waal made 62 saves in the game. Offensively, Stovin and Nick Bradshaw netted the two goals for Butte.
“It was a good series and in both games going into the third, it was close. We just have to stay out of the box and focus on playing hockey 5 on 5,” said Stovin after the loss.
Butte will travel to Sheridan, Wyo. to take on the Sheridan Hawks next weekend.