Bighorns end year by blanking Billings

BILLINGS — Nolan Grauer and Anthony Petruzzelli scored nine seconds apart midway through the second period and Patrick Wenzell made 17 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Helena Bighorns closed out a banner year with a 9-0 victory over the Billing Bulls in a NorPac hockey game at Centennial Ice Arena on Friday night.

Taylor Laneville had three assists for the three-time defending Cascade Cup champions, who were playing their first game since sweeping four games in the Western States Hockey League Shootout on Dec. 16-19 in Las Vegas.

Ryan Parkhouse got the Bighorns (27-2, 54 points) on the board with his team-leading 26 th goal of the season less than six minutes into the contest.

Grauer scored the first of his two goals 12 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0.

Grauer and Petruzzelli then made it 4-0 with the two tallies midway through the second. Zack Maxwell added an unassisted goal with less than five minutes remaining in the second period for a 5-0 lead.

Cody Hess, Michael Sullivan, Austin Buckholz and Chris Rinaldi each scored in the third period for Helena.

Eleven different players picked up at least one point for Helena. The Bighorns had a 50-17 shot advantage, including 15-0 in the first period.

Billings (18-14, 36 points) had its six-game winning streak snapped, but remains in third place in the America West Divsion. The two teams will meet again in Helena on Jan. 8.

The Bighorns travel to Cody, Wyo., to face the Yellowstone Quake tonight. Yellowstone deffeated Butte 8-1 on Friday night.