Bighorns Trample Billings

Gehrett Sargis and Nolan Grauer each scored twice as the Helena Bighorns prepared for their first-round playoff series by beating the Billings Bulls 7-2 in a NorPac game on Saturday night at the Helena Ice Arena.

 Despite the loss, the Bulls (19-26, 38 points) clinched the fourth and final playoff spot from the America West Division when Bozeman lost to Butte. The Bighorns and Bulls will meet in a best-of-five first-round playoff series the week of Feb. 22.

Helena (40-5, 80 points) was 9-0 against Billings this season.

Adam Johnson and Rudy Pino each had two assists for Helena to extend their co-team-leading point totals to 82. Johnson also extended his scoring streak to 14 games.

Sargis, who just joined the team last week, scored twice in the opening period. He has three goals in two games since joining the team.

Billings took a short-lived 1-0 lead on Keith Tessin’s goal just 23 seconds into the game against Helena goalie Ryan Sutliffe. But Sutliffe would allow just one more goal on the 14 shots he faced.

The Bighorns responded with three goals in the next six minutes to go up 3-1.

Helena scored four goals in the second period. Grauer scored twice in the second period, including once on a power play, to improve his career-best totals to 18 goals and 56 points this season.

Fourteen different players had at least one point for Helena.