Sioux Falls, SD—Five different players scored and Charlie Lindgren stopped 29 shots as the Sioux Falls Stampede earned a huge road victory Friday night, defeating the Fargo Force 5-3 in Fargo. The win improved the Stampede’s record to 19-8-1 and moved them four points ahead of Force for first place in the West. The Herd have now won six of their last seven games and improved to 4-0-1 against the Force this season.
The Stampede grabbed the first goal just 1:52 when Kyle Schempp tallied his seventh goal of the season. Schempp brought the puck down the left wing side and wristed a shot onto Fargo netminder Brendan Jensen who stopped the first shot, but the rebound went behind the net where Schempp picked it up and sent it towards the net, bouncing off Jensen and into the goal. Both teams would exchange powerplay opportunities later in the period, but came up empty. The Herd grabbed a two-goal lead at 17:06 when Conner Valesano recorded his first career USHL goal. Tony Calderone made the play happen by driving towards the net and getting a shot on goal that was stopped, but the rebound bounced out into the slot to Valesano who tucked the puck just underneath the crossbar to make it a 2-0 game. Sioux Falls took that lead into the locker room, outshooting Fargo 14-11.
In the second, the Force got on the board 5:53 in when Dave Gust recorded his 13th goal of the season. The puck was sent in behind the net by Nate Arentz and went under the stick of Charlie Lindgren before being picked up by Gust who quickly backhanded the puck into the net past a diving Lindgren and into the back of the net. The Herd tallied 11 more shots in the period, but also hit the goal post three times and had a flurry of shots in front of the net stopped by Jensen who made several big saves to keep the Stampede from adding to their lead. The Herd outshot the Force 11-7 in the period and put their perfect record when leading after two periods on the line entering the third.
Sioux Falls increased their lead just 5:27 into the first period when Sam Rothstein dove through the crease and batted in loose rebound in the crease off a shot from Dennis Kravchenko for a power play goal that made it a 3-1 game. Moments later, the Force climbed back within a goal when Brendan Harms backhand shot rolled over the right shoulder of Lindgren to make it a 3-2 game. A few minutes later the Stampede went back on the power play and struck again. This time, Sioux Falls got a little luck when C.J. Franklin’s wrist shot bounced off a Force player and then was swatted into the net accidently by a Force player.
The Stampede put the game away for good at 15:16 when C.J. Franklin intercepted a pass at the Fargo blueline and fed Zeb Knutson who was alone between the circles and wristed a shot under the right pad of Jensen to give the Stampede a 5-2 advantage. The Force would score with under a minute to play, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Stampede topped the Force, 5-3. Sioux Falls outshot Fargo, 35-32 on the night and finished 2-for-5 on the powerplay while Fargo was 1-for-4.
Sioux Falls returns to action this Sunday when they host the Des Moines Buccaneers at 5:05 PM. Tickets are available at the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster location. Fans are encouraged to bring their skates and skate with the Stampede immediately following the game for 30 minutes!