31 in 31 Series: Great Falls Americans
August 17, 2014
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) is pleased to continue their season preview series, ’31 teams in 31 days’ exclusively on na3hl.com, the NA3HL Facebook page and Twitter.
The 31 in 31 series will feature an in-depth look into all 31 teams in the NA3HL for the 2014-15 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Saturday, September 6th as eight NA3HL teams take to the ice on Opening Night.
31 in 31 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 31 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2014-15 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season.
It will also take a look back on the 2013-14 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 31 in 31 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Great Falls Americans
Head Coach: Jeff Heimel
2013-14 Record: 36-9-3-0, 75 Points (2nd, AWHL)
2013-14 Leading Scorer: Aaron McInnis (29 G, 43 A, 72 P, +50)
Playoffs: 2nd overall, Eliminated by Helena in the AWHL Championship Series, 3 games to 0
2014-15 Division: Frontier
First Regular Season Game: Sat. September 20th 7:30 pm at Glacier
Home Opener: Fri. September 26th 7:30 pm vs Bozeman
With a 36-9-3-0 record, the Great Falls Americans ended up 2nd in the regular season in the AWHL. They made a deep run in the playoffs and ended up taking home 2nd place in the AWHL league championship, losing out to the Helena Bighorns 3 games to 0. Aaron McInnis led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 43 assists.
“We were definitely satisfied and a bit surprised with the result last season,” said Coach Jeff Heimel. “Following a 16-win season during our 2013-2014 season and a one win season during our 2011-2012 campaign. We set our goals as an organization to make the playoffs for the first time since the reforming of the AWHL in 2011. We knew we had a good group of veterans from the prior year coming into last season and we were proud of what they achieved during the course of the year. They certainly exceeded our expectations for them as a group.”
With a strong season last year, it is a time for reflection for the organization. “The summer has been spent looking for important pieces of the puzzle for our team that we feel can help us take the next step as a hockey club,” said Heimel. “We are constantly looking for ways to continue to grow as an organization and this year will be no exception. We were very humbled by our championship series against the Helena bighorns last season. We felt like we had accomplished so much getting to that point and yet at times in the series it seemed like we couldn’t have been further away from our eventual goal of winning a league championship.”
“We are very excited to be a part of the NA3HL, said Heimel when asked about the league now being at 31 teams and five divisions. “I am Impressed with the level of coaches and talent across all 5 divisions. I think that being able to stand behind the NAHL brand was one of the contributing factors in our former league’s decision to move from the AWHL to the NA3HL.”
“The professionalism exhibited amongst coaches, staff members and league personnel has been a joy of an experience thus far,” said Heimel. “We are looking forward to our first full season in the league and the opportunity and exposure that it will bring for the players.”
Advancing players, and having them grow up at a physical and mental level is top priority for Great Falls.
“We believe in balance as an organization and we understand the influence that we have on these young men at a very important stage in their lives,” said Heimel. “Certainly the goal is to develop players both on and off the ice. We want to provide players with an avenue to succeed on many different levels.”
Coach Heimel also said, “For some that will be advancing to higher levels of hockey and for some it will be moving on to new and exciting challenges in their lives. Some important values that we want to instill in our players are a desire to succeed in life, a wish to be a productive member of their individual communities, and the ability to cope with and overcome adversity on a day to day basis.”
The Great Falls Americans will be looking to make another strong run this year. Only this year they will be a part of a bigger footprint.
Next up in the 31 in 31 series: Helena Bighorns, August 18th