Sioux Falls, SD—Jared Westcott’s goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation lifted the Sioux Falls Stampede to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Steel in Game 1 of the Clark Cup Final Friday night at the PREMEIR Center. Game two of the series takes place on Sunday in Sioux Falls. The Stampede have now won the first game in all four playoff series this postseason.
On a blue out night, 6,912 fans cheered the Herd onto victory and watched them take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-five series. Carl Berglund and Andre Lee also scored for the Herd while Jaxson Stauber earned his ninth playoff victory, turning aside 20 of 22 shots on the night.
After a scoreless first period in which the Herd outshot the Steel 10-4, things picked up in the second. The Herd got the first goal of the series just 1:23 in on Carl Berglund’s second of the postseason. Brendan Olson sent a pass into the right circle for Cade Borchardt who spun with the puck and sent a pass into the left circle for Berglund who wristed a shot right through the five-hole of Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins. It remained that way until 6:37 when the Herd extended their lead on Andre Lee’s fifth of the playoffs. Blake Bride took the puck behind the net and sent it into the left circle for Lee who wristed it perfectly into the upper right-hand corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Chicago picked up their game after that goal though and got one of their own at 11:04 when Josiah Slavin scored. A shot from Gunnarwolfe Fontaine was blocked but the puck bounced high into the air and was grabbed by Slavin who quickly put the puck onto the ice and wristed a shot perfectly into the upper right-hand corner of the net to make it a 2-1 game. That gave the Steel some life and they added some more quality scoring chances, but Jaxson Stauber and the Herd stood tall and kept the one goal lead into the third period. Chicago outshot the Herd 10-9 in the period.
Chicago tied the game just 2:32 into the third on a goal from John Spetz. Owen Power sent a pass to the left point for Spetz who blasted it through traffic and into the upper right-hand corner of the net to make it a 2-2 game and silence the PREMIER Center crowd. Chicago gained a little momentum from that and the Stampede started to bend a little bit, but didn’t break and the game remained tied at two. As the game approached the final six minutes of regulation fans were starting to think we might be in for another long night at the PREMIER Center, but Jared Wescott had other plans. Brian Chambers took the puck from behind the Chicago net and sent a pass just inside the left circle to Westcott who quickly one-timed it right through Robbins and into the net to make it 3-2 and send all 6,912 fans to their feet.
Things got interesting in the final three minutes as Brendan Olson got called for high sticking and the Steel went on the power play. With their goaltender pulled it gave Chicago a 6-ond-4 advantage, but Stauber was solid once again and shut the door leading to a Stampede victory in Game 1.
Sioux Falls outshot Chicago 10-8 in the third period and 29-22 in the game. The Steel finished 0-for-2 on the power play while the Stampede did not have any power play opportunities in the game.
Both teams will get an extra day of rest and return to the PREMIER Center on Sunday for Game 2 of the Final. Puck drop is at 5:05 PM and the first 4,000 fans will receive a free Stampede blue rally towel, compliments of Dental Solutions. A free tailgate party will take place outside the Birdcage from 3-4:30 PM with inflatables, lawn games and more. The Stampede office will be open from 12-3 PM on Saturday for all your ticketing needs or you can get tickets through Ticketmaster.