Havre Daily News sports editor
The Havre Ice Hawks high school hockey team had a nemesis all season long in the form of Great Falls. And at the Montana State High School Hockey Tournament in Miles City, Great Falls hurt the Ice Hawks in more ways than one.
Havre, which finished third in the regular season Western Division standings, had to open the tournament against Great Falls on Thursday and the Ice Hawks ended up dropping a tough 3-1 decision.
Great Falls mustered just enough offense and rode the stellar play of goalie Daniel Olinger to the win.
The two teams skated to a scoreless first period before Great Falls struck early in the second on a goal by Doug Walter. Havre answered two minutes later on an unassisted, shorthanded goal by Tyler Boyce, sending the game into the third period tied at 1-1.
That is when Walter took over the contest. He scored twice in the third period to earn the hat trick on the day and give Great Falls a first-round win.
Olinger stopped 17 shots for Great Falls while Havre goalie David Zentmire stopped 14 shots.
Despite the loss, Havre bounced back the next day with a 2-0 win over tournament host Miles City.
Havre did all its damage in the second period. The Ice Hawks got a goal from Josh Morse and another from Boyce in the shutout. Zentmire saved 20 Miles City shots.
The win over Miles City kept Havre's chances of reaching the semifinals alive, but in order to reach the final four the Ice Hawks had to either beat the top-ranked Billings Skyview Falcons on Friday or Great Falls needed to lose to Miles City.
Neither wound up happening.
Havre played valiantly in its effort to knock off the Falcons, skating to a 4-4 tie.
The Ice Hawks rallied from a 4-0 deficit after the Falcons scored three goals in the first period and another to open the second.
Trailing 4-0 in the second period, Boyce got the Ice Hawks on the board with two straight goals. The first goal was unassisted and the second came on a Havre power play.
In the third period, Billings Skyview's defense tightened up some, but Havre was able to break through late in the contest. Todd Roe scored on an assist from Boyce with five minutes remaining in the game. And one minute later the Ice Hawks got a power play and were able to capitalize when Will Schilling scored the game-tying goal with 3:38 left. From there the teams traded shots, but neither could produce the game-winner.
Despite giving up the four early goals, Zentmire was spectacular between the pipes. He stopped 38 Billings Skyview shots. The loss coupled with Great Falls' win over Miles City ended Havre's season.
Great Falls wound up beating Billings Skyview in the championship game, 5-3. Helena beat Billings West 3-1 for third place.