A new season began in Butte on Saturday when their I-90 rival Bozeman Icedogs arrived to kick off the 2021-22 NA3HL campaign. The Cobras left the packed crowd at Butte Community Ice Center wanting more as they defeated the visitors 2-1 in overtime.
Beginning their fourth season as a member of the NA3HL, expectations are high after the positive steps made last winter. A new coaching staff along with a number of new players have the team poised to be a competitive squad in the Frontier Division.
Veteran Luke Schleusner got the Cobras off to a good start on Saturday scoring the first goal of the season at 7:06 of the opening period. Robbie Arver and Fabian Aarstad Vik assisted on the play.
A powerplay goal by Bozeman evened things two minutes into the second period beating goaltender Caleb Cross. It would be the only shot that got past the rookie netminder though as the teams remained tied 1-1 for the final 38 minutes of regulation.
After being outshot 50-28 in the first two periods the Cobras were the better team in the third (14-4 shot advantage) and carried that momentum into the extra session. Quinn Nichols ended the game at 1:47 of overtime scoring with assists from Jonah Gilbert and Jonathan Schoof.
Cross was the difference for much of the game making 53 saves in his Junior debut. The 2021 Mankato West HS graduate was quick to praise his defense after the win.
“The defense did a good job clearing rebounds and bodies from in front of the net,” said Cross. “The fans where loud and into the game. An OT win is a great way to start off the season. I’m excited for what’s ahead in Butte.”
Next up for the Cobras is a Montana road trip where they will face the Icedogs in Bozeman Friday night before heading north to the capital to take on the Helena Bighorns on Saturday.