Sioux Falls, SD
With 18 game left in the regular season, the Stampede are primed to return to the Clark Cup playoffs after missing out last year. Helping that cause has been Sioux Falls' play of late, as they've earned a point in 9 straight games.
"I think the guys have finally bought in that we have a special team and we can make a good run in the playoffs. guys are starting to get more physical, get pucks, all the little things we're doing a lot better so it's come a long way since the beginning of the season and now we're in our groove going good right now," Defenseman Paul DeNaples said.
For the Herd, one year can make quite the difference as their 54 points through 42 games this year has already surpassed last season's point total of 51.
"This year's a lot different than last. Last year we were out so guys kind of just waited for the season to be over. Now we have a chance to make a run for the Clark Cup, so it's a lot more excitement, lot more energy that guys know we're going to be playing all through April," DeNaples said.
Head Coach Scott Owens says that energy has also transferred to their practices.
"I think overall the practices, they're more purposeful you know. I think we feel like we're playing for something significant and it certainly helps in your practices," Scott Owens said.
As the Stampede make their playoff push they'll have to find success on the road as they play 8 of their next 11 games away from Sioux Falls. But the Herd are confident in their gameplan which has led them to earning 26 out of a possible 38 points on the road so far this season.
"You don't want to do a lot of things that force you to lose a game by taking penalties or turning the puck over. We just call it playing good, smart, road hockey and we've been able to do that for the most part this year," Owens said.
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