League-leading Helena Bighorns take on the second place Missoula Maulers in a home-and-home series this weekend. The Bighorns (13-1, 26 points) will be in Missoula for Friday's contest but will host the Maulers (11-2-1, 22 points) Saturday evening at the Helena Ice Arena.
Both teams enter this weekend's match-up as the no. 1 & 2 ranked teams in the American West Hockey League and feature an even matchup. In the previous two meetings this season, the Bighorns have come away narrow winners 4-3 in a thrilling 2OT shootout on the road in Missoula and a 4-2 win at the Helena Ice Arena four weeks ago.
Goaltending seems to be the difference separating both teams from the rest of the league, and is the key for each team's success as all goalies for each team rank 1 through 4 in league statistics. Helena's Trey Flesch leads the AWHL with a .947 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.64 goals against average (GAA). Just behind Flesch is Missoula's Brandon Newsome with a 1.66 GAA and .921 SV %. The Bighorns other netminder, Jett Salinas, ranks third in the league with a 1.86 GAA and .929 SV%. And Missoula's McKinlee Baum holds a 2.66 GAA and .913 SV %. Baum was the goaltender in both previous contests against the Bighorns.
For Friday night's game, the Bighorns are a league best 7-1 when playing on the road this year (including a 6 game road win streak, eventually snapped against the Gillette Wild,) while the Maulers have a 3 game home win streak intact. For Saturday evening the teams will travel to the Queen City. The Bighorns are currently undefeated when playing at home, winning all five games, whereas Missoula brings with them a 3 game winning streak when wearing their road whites.
Tickets are still available for purchase for Saturday evening's game at the Helena Ice Arena. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Bighorns Ticket Boxoffice, and by calling the Bighorns Ticket Hotline at (406) 457-2817. At the game 5 turkeys will be given away to 5 attending fans during Turkey Bowling courtesy of Heritage Foods and there will also be a feature presentation made by the Helena Figure Skating Club for their upcoming performance on Sunday. In conjunction, the Bighorns will be collecting canned foods for donations to Helena Food Share at Saturday's game.
-PRIDE & PASSION-