Sioux Falls, SD--For the third time this postseason the Herd came out on top with their backs against elimination, using two power play goals to power past the Fargo Force for a 5-3 Game 4 Victory at the Arena. Sam Rothstein and Dennis Kravchenko had two goals each for the Herd, who for the second series in a row will have a Game 5 in their friendly confines, set for 7:05 pm Wednesday in Sioux Falls. Thomas Forgione also chipped in a score for the Herd, while netminder Charlie Lindgren stopped 21 of 24 Force shots.
“Our backs were to the wall,” said head coach Cary Eades, who is on the verge of taking the Herd to the Clark Cup Finals in his first season. “We needed a grade A performance and we got it.”
The Herd made it quite apparent they wouldn’t be shut out two games in a row when Rothstein struck only 15 seconds into the early evening, the Minnetonka, Minn. native’s second goal of the playoffs.
“I just kind of got in on the fore check there,” said Rothstein. “I ended up getting the lucky bounce behind the net and luckily enough I got to put it away.”
However, Fargo replied almost six minutes later at 6:11 on a freak goal from forward Austin Ortega when the puck squirted under the pads of Lindgren to even the game 1-1. Sioux Falls came within inches of regaining the several times before Rothstein punched it in again on a man advantage with 7:56 to go before intermission. It was a welcome sight for the Herd, who hadn’t lit the lamp during a home power play since a March 30 game against the Lincoln Stars.
“They weren’t necessarily conventional power play goals but they got to the back of the net,” said Rothstein. “It was just getting it to the net and still having confidence.”
The game was tied again at 6:18 of the second when Fargo winger Dominic Toninato threw a rebound into an empty net from the left side, but Sioux Falls responded once more 1:59 later thanks to another power play tally, this time from Thomas Forgione. The future Vermont Catamount sneaked the puck in from behind the net near the right side for his third postseason goal. A fight between C.J. Franklin and Ortega left Herd fans rowdy and raucous heading into a final period with their team up 3-2.
“It (the fight) gave us a lot of momentum and a lot of energy but we knew what we had to do,” said Kravchenko.
Sioux Falls bumped their precious lead to two goals courtesy of a beautiful score from Kravchenko at 9:50 in the third, who had left the penalty box on a roughing call just ten seconds earlier. The forward flew down the right side and beat Johnson with a smooth back and forth move, giving the Herd a 4-2 cushion with a little over half the period left.
The Force did not go quietly though, retorting once again with another rebound from Ortega almost three minutes later. Nonetheless, Lindgren and the Herd staved off the Force pressure until an empty netter from Kravchenko clinched a 5-3 Game 4 victory. The clubs will now wait until Wednesday at the Arena to decide who will face the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL Clark Cup Finals.
“It’s a one-game showdown,” said Eades. “Two good hockey teams going head-to-head.”
Tickets for Wednesday’s Game 5 go on sale 10 am tomorrow at the Sioux Falls Arena box office or any Ticketmaster location.