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Nationals hoping for a home ice advantage against Billings

 

February 2, 2017

Colin Thompson

The Glacier Nationals are in the Havre Ice Dome this weekend to take on the Billings Bulls in Frontier Division games Friday and Saturday.

If the Glacier Nationals are going to be back into the win column this season, there may be no better chance than the one they will have this weekend in back-to-back games against the Billings Bulls.

The Nationals, who haven’t won a game in the North American Tier 3 Hockey League since October, are just 0-29-1 in their last 30 games. But Friday and Saturday night, inside the Havre Ice Dome, Glacier will host Billings, the last team it beat and a club that has also lost 21 straight games. The first puck will drop Friday night at 8. Start time for Saturday’s game is 7:30 p.m.

Statistically, the two teams are very similar. Glacier has three points in the standings for the season, while Billings has nine. Glacier has allowed 279 goals, Billings 265. Both teams have also struggled to score. The Nationals have just 40 total goals on the season, compared to 80 for Billings.

The Nationals have been unable to find a consistent source of offensive output, but have been getting solid efforts from Gavin Cline, the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals, as well as Lindros Beard, who is second on the team with five. Currently, Billings is in a similar situation. The Bulls did have double-digit goal scorers, but neither remains active with the team. That leaves Austin Lange with seven and Gage Thompson with five, as the top goal scorers still on the club. Thompson also leads the team in assists with 20.

Between the pipes, the Nationals have three options: Will Langstaff, Brendan Schultz and Jeremiah Clark, while the Bulls will turn to Simo Huhtanen, Ethan Wiese and Cam Kollar.

The two teams met earlier in the season, playing four games in consecutive weeks. Glacier won the last of those games, which game Oct. 8 in Havre, when the Nationals earned a 6-3 victory. After taking on Billings this week, the Nationals will close out their 2016-17 season against teams such as Yellowstone, Gillette, Great Falls and Helena.

The action will get underway at 8 p.m. Friday. The second game between the two teams will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Both will be held inside the Havre Ice Dome.

 

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