Sioux Falls, SD—Swedish forward Andre Lee tallied his first career USHL hat trick and added an assist as the Sioux Falls Stampede topped the Chicago Steel 8-6 in a wild one Friday night at the PREMIER Center. The two teams combined for eight goals in the final period, but the Herd prevailed to win their seventh straight on home ice before 6,039 at the Denny. Ethan Phillips tallied a goal and two assists while Brandon Tabakin, Blake Bride, Artem Ivanyuzhenkov and Anthony Romano all added goals in the victory.
The win moved the Stampede (25-10-4) into sole possession of third place in the Western Conference, four points behind second place Waterloo. The Herd are now 16-3-1 at the PREMIER Center this season and have won 12 of their last 13 home contests. The Stampede have now won four straight games overall and are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games. Since December 1st, the Stampede have gone 17-3-2.
Chicago, who entered the game 8-2-0 in their last 10 and in second place in the East, controlled much of the play in the first period and grabbed the first goal of the game at 10:11 when Nick Abruzzese one-timed a pass in the slot from Mathieu St. Phalle for a 1-0 lead. The Stampede responded just 43 seconds later when Ethan Phillips stole the puck at center ice and raced past two defenders and in on a breakaway where he beat Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins under the left pad. The Steel regained the momentum after that and outshot the Herd 12-4, but the game remained tied 1-1 heading into the second.
Sioux Falls took their first lead of the night at 2:21 when Andre Lee knocked home his own rebound for his 14th of the season. The Steel would respond less than three minutes later when Owen Power snuck down the left-wing side and one-timed a pass inside the circle to tie the game at two. Sioux Falls came right back over a minute later to regain the lead when Blake Bride took the puck at the top of the right circle, spun around, and wristed a shot past the glove side of Robbins for 3-2 advantage. It stayed that way until 16:24 when Chicago cashed in on a Stampede turnover. The puck deflected off a Stampede player and stayed in their own zone where Chicago’s Mathieu De St. Phalle sent a pass to the edge of the left circle to Robert Mastrosimone who sent the puck across the slot to a wide open Abruzzese who knocked it in for his second of the night and to tied the game, 3-3. Sioux Falls outshot Chicago 8-6 in the period.
Things got crazy in the third period when the two teams combined for eight goals. After giving up a goal just 12 seconds into the period, Sioux Falls responded to tie it up at 3:37 when Artem Ivanyuzhenkov tallied his team leading 19th goal of the season. The Herd took the lead just over a minute later when Austen Swankler connected with Brandon Tabakin on a nice give-and-go play which resulted in Tabakin one-timing a pass from the right circle into the back of the net for a 5-4 advantage. Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored on a breakaway less than minute later for Chicago to tie the game at five for Chicago. That brought Jaxson Stauber into the game for Sioux Falls.
The Stampede would respond, scoring at 6:54 when Lee tallied his second of the night, this time on the power play. Jami Krannila took the puck from the left point and slid it over to the right circle for Lee who quickly blasted it into the net for a 6-5 advantage. It remained that way until 13:43 when Anthony Romano scored his 14th of the year. Phillips drove to the net and was stopped by Robbins, but the rebound bounced to Romano who dove in and knocked the puck into the net for a 7-5 lead. The Steel would pull Robbins for an extra attacker, but the Herd put the game away for good when Lee completed the hat trick with an empty net goal with 40 seconds left, bringing the hats onto the PREMIER Center ice. The Steel would score in the final seconds, but it wouldn’t matter as the Herd collected their seventh straight home victory.
Chicago outshot the Herd 28-23 in the game and finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play while the Stampede were 1-for-3.
Sioux Falls will now hit the road for the first of five straight games away from the PREMEIR Center starting Saturday night in Waterloo against the Black Hawks. The Herd trail Waterloo by four points with two games in hand for second place in the West. Puck drop is 7:05 PM with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:40 PM on KELO News Talk 1320-AM, 105.1-FM, 107.9-FM and KELO.com.