Pontell helps Maulers hand Bighorns 1st loss

MISSOULA — Chris Pontello completed his first hat trick of the season by scoring 3:14 into overtime, and the Missoula Maulers handed the Helena Bighorns their first loss of the season, 5-4 in overtime in a NorPac hockey game on Friday night.

The Bighorns (16-1) battled back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to tie the game on Zack Maxwell’s fifth goal of the season with 5:02 remaining.

Missoula (13-6) scored three power-play goals on six chances, the most that Helena has allowed in a game this season. The five goals scored by the Maulers also are a season-high in goals allowed by Helena.

Andy DiCristafaro earned the win in net, stopping 42 of 46 shots against him.

Pontello, who now has 15 goals this season, opened the scoring with a powerplay tally 5:51 into the game. Second-period goals by Pontello and Al Maul gave Missoula a 3-0 lead, the largest deficit Helena has faced all season.

Helena got within 3-2 on markers by Taylor Laneville and Trevor Tracy before Dalton Gilbert’s 5-on-3 goal made it 4-2 Missoula.

Chris Rinaldi, playing in his game for Helena, scored early in the third period to cut the margin to 4-3 before Maxwell tied the contest and forced overtime.

Helena hosts Billings – a 19-1 winner over Butte – tonight at 7:35 p.m.

Helena  0 2 2 0 – 4

Missoula 1 2  1 1 – 5

First period — 1, MIS, Pontello (Gilbert, Skilling), 5:51 (pp). Penalties – Hel, Rinaldi (hooking), 4:12. Mis, Marek (slashing), 7:53; Mis, Arnold (slashing), 12:43; Mis, Anthone (hooking), 16:01; Hel, Bench (too many men), 17:09.

Second period — 2, Mis, Maul (Skilling, Gilbert), 10:32 (pp). 3, Mis, Pontello, 12:07 (sh). 4, Hel, Laneville (Parkhouse, Murphy), 12:29 (pp). 5, Hel, Tracy, 17:45. 6, Mis, Gilbert (Skilling), 19:00 (pp).

Penalties – Hel, Murphy (cross checking), 0:22; Hel, Love (tripping), 9:15; Mis, Finn (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:52; Mis, Mathews (cross checking), 12:46; Hel, Stone (major, equipment misconduct), 16:00; Hel, Laneville (delay of game), 18:15; Hel, Z. Maxwell (cross checking), 18:23; Hel, Rinaldi (roughing), 18:23; Mis, Arnold (roughing), 18:23.

Third period — 7, Hel, Rinaldi (Tracy, Petruzzelli), 3:01. 8, Hel, Z. Maxwell (Petruzzelli), 14:58.

Penalties – Mis, Marek (roughing), 4:41; Hel, unidentified (roughing), 4:41; Hel, Tracy (high sticking), 9:58; Hel, Rinaldi (interference), 17:30.

Overtime — 9, Mis, Pontello (Morrison), 3:14.

Penalties – Hel, Petruzzelli (cross checking), 1:55, Mis, Everhart (roughing), 1:55.

Shots on goal: Helena 15-19-11-1 –46., Missoula 10-15-13-2 – 40.

Power plays – Hel 1 for 5, Mis 3 for 8.

Saves: Hel, Wackerly (40 shots-35 saves); Mis, DiCristofaro (46-42).