You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone more excited about a nine hour bus ride as Gillette Wild Head Coach Ethan Hayes will be Friday morning. Him and his squad are set to make the trek from Spirit Hall Ice Arena to Great Falls, MT, for a two-game Frontier Division series matchup with the Americans this weekend.
“I absolutely love going to Great Falls,” Hayes said. “I have a lot of friends there, a lot of really good friends, and Greg (Sears) was my high school coach.”
Before taking over the Wild program two years back, Hayes was an assistant coach in Great Falls under Sears.
“He taught me a lot of things that I teach my guys,” Hayes added. “He was a really good mentor for me, and I have nothing but respect for the him.”
And while an opportunity to run into a few old buddies from the VFW have Hayes looking forward to the trip, a look at how his team has performed against Great Falls since he took over the Wild is reason enough to be excited. Over the last two seasons Hayes and his group have faced Great Falls ten times going 8-2 in those contests.
Eight of the ten games have been played at Spirit Hall, where Gillette is 7-1. The Wild have not played in Great Falls in over two years, splitting the series that weekend.
Waiting for the Wild is an Americans team that is 6-4 on the season sitting third in the Frontier Division, five points behind second place Gillette. Great Falls is 5-3 at home, and have won three straight at the Great Falls Ice Complex.
Four Americans have recored at least ten points this season. They’re being led in scoring by Alex Leaf. The Colorado Springs, CO, native has a goal, and has assisted on 11 others. William Fallman, from Stockhom, Sweden, is the leading goal scorer for Great Falls, with six.
Two different goalies have seen action for Great Falls, with Josh Koziol seeing majority of the time. The Elk River, MN, product is 4-3, saving 305-of-325 (.935 SV%) shots he has faced.
Gillette is undefeated in Frontier Division play this season having swept series against Bozeman, Badlands, Yellowstone, and Sheridan. The Wild are averaging just over seven goals a night within the division, while giving up on average 1.75 goals.
Gillette will face the Americans six times this season. They will be back at Great Falls in mid-November, and play host in February.