3View: Great Falls Americans
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2020-21 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2020-21 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 2019-20 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Great Falls Americans
2019-20 Record: 33-9-5, 71pts (3rd in Frontier Division)
2020 Playoffs: Qualified
Head Coach: Greg Sears
2020-21 Division: Frontier
With 30 wins or more in each of their first six NA3HL seasons, the Great Falls Americans have established themselves as a premier contender in the Frontier Division.
Under Head Coach Greg Sears, the Americans posted another impressive season in 2019-20, posting 33 wins and committing six players en route to a third-place finish in the division.
And after missing out on what should have been a long playoff run due to the season pause last year, Sears is working to make sure his team doesn’t miss a beat heading into the new season.
“I think we have to stay consistent with our play over the last two seasons to consider this year a success. We have done a nice job of getting kids on to college and winning hockey games. We were red hot last year, winning 9 in a row and cruising in the playoffs when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. I think the guys coming in understand the standard we have established here, and we hope to pick up where we left off last year,” he said.
In order to do that, Sears and his staff will be looking for more contributions throughout the lineup. Great Falls was one of the stingiest defensive teams last year — its 98 goals allowed were fourth-fewest in the League — but there’s always room for improvement.
“We have to start with depth. We have a full training camp and we are expecting to have four lines and six defensemen that can all play at a high level. Experience with 13 returners who won 36 games last year is big also,” said Sears.
Sears will also count on some returning talent to get things started on the right foot this year. Several pieces of last year’s team on offense and defense will make their way back to Great Falls for another championship charge.
“I would have to start with veteran Trever Mellen (as a key returner). He had a nice year for us last year and enters the season with a shutout streak of 195 minutes. With the end of the season cut short due to COVID-19, it’s a pretty rare thing to start with a streak. We also return a 50-point guy in Jake Hayes, and veteran defenseman Tommy Janes. In all, we’re returning 13 guys from last year's team,” he said.
Those veterans will be looking ahead to their next step in hockey as well this season, and the Americans’ history of college commitments bodes well for those looking for a shot at climbing the ladder.
“We do the best job we can to promote our guys to colleges. In the COVID-19 era, things may be a little different, but it is still our biggest focal point to get our players seen by as many colleges as we can. Through phone calls, video, and emails we can get a lot done for our players to be seen, said Sears.
The Americans are a key part of the Great Falls community already, but Sears is putting an added focus on fostering the growth of hockey in the region this year.
“This year the Americans will help with the Great Falls Youth Hockey. It’s important to help out in the community and our kids enjoy being out there with the younger players,” he said.
Look for Great Falls to make more noise in the Frontier Division this season as Sears and his team try to hunt down that elusive championship title in year seven.
Next Up: Helena Bighorns