Sioux Falls, SD--A 2-1 first period deficit wouldn’t prove to be the end of the world as the Stampede came together for three goals in the second en route to a 6-3 victory over the Tri-City Storm Friday night at the Arena. First-year winger Tony Calderone snapped a four game scoreless streak with three points (2 G, 1 A) for the Herd, who remained in first place in the West with the victory.
“I’ve had some some bad luck,” said Calderone, a future Princeton Tiger. “I’m just trying to hit the open net and I was able to hit them tonight.”
Sam Rothstein, Dennis Kravchenko and Thomas Forgione also put the puck in the net for Sioux Falls (17-8-1) with goaltender Charlie Lindgren prevented 21 of 24 shots from the Storm (12-13-2).
Sioux Falls took little time getting reacquainted with their home environment, grabbing the game’s first goal 3:47 into the opening period thanks to center Sam Rothstein. The Minnetonka, Minn. native squeezed a rebounded puck in between the goal post and Mattsson’s glove, giving the Herd a quick 1-0 advantage. However, any momentum Sioux Falls was holding onto was vanquished by two Storm scores late in the period, the first a lightning-fast wrist shot from the left circle via Trevor Moore at 16:14. Grant Opperman doubled his team’s goal total during the Storm’s second power play, giving his team a 2-1 lead over the Herd with 43 seconds to go before intermission.
“It was kind of a different first period. We really came out for the first 15 minutes with a lot of speed and anticipation,” said head coach Cary Eades. “They made a play, got a bounce and all of a sudden in a period we dominated we’re down.”
The first period rally by the Storm only proved to wake the horned, hoofed beast known as the Stampede offense, as Sioux Falls tacked three goals on Mattsson in a twenty minute span completely dominated by the team in white. Two of the scores belonged to winger Tony Calderone, who evened the contest at 11:15 when a lone puck ended up near him in front of Mattsson. A mere 41 seconds later center Dennis Kravchenko rifled a wrister through the Tri-City netminder to give the Herd a 3-2 edge, a lead that blossomed to 4-2 with 3:45 left on a Calderone wrist shot inside the left circle.
“I play with good kids,” said Calderone. “You have to give a lot of credit to them too. I’m not doing this by myself.”
Tri-City couldn’t muster much of a threat in the third period, adding a score but only after the Herd had already made it 5-2 with a goal from Thomas Forgione. An empty-netter from the Herd’s Zeb Knutson iced the cake for a 6-3 Sioux Falls victory, a win that ensured the Herd stayed in first place in the Western Conference for at least one more night.
“The more points we can put in the bank, the more of a gap we can build,” said Eades. “Those are things they can’t take away from you.”
The Stampede return to the Arena tomorrow night to face the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at 7:05 pm. The first 1,000 fans will receive a Stampede Santa hat. Santa Claus himself will be at the game and fans can get a chance to meet him and get a photo taken. Tickets are available through the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office.