Sioux Falls, SD--The Sioux Falls Stampede finished their fun at the only home they’ve ever known on a bittersweet note Saturday night, falling to the Omaha Lancers 4-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,772 at the Arena.
Keith Burchett had two goals (34-19-7) while affiliate netminder Stefano Lekkas came in relief of Art Brey and stopped 12 of 12 shots for the Herd, who will face the number one seed Waterloo Black Hawks next week in the first round of the USHL Playoffs. The loss was witnessed by the Stampede’s ninth sellout of the season and caps a year that saw Sioux Falls lead the USHL in attendance for the first time ever with over 127,000 fans and an average of 4,257 fans a night.
“Each and every night we’ve had great attendance,” said head coach Cary Eades. “They were a factor tonight and they rallied us in getting us back in the game.”
Omaha took no time at all setting the tone of the first period, jumping on their first power play of the night only 20 ticks into the game and scoring on the aforementioned power play 1:03 later. Lancer forward Brian Williams compounded that lead to 2-0 6:24 later with a nifty backhand in front of Brey. The Herd had several chances to hit the board in the period but whiffed on three separate one-on-one breakaway chances on Omaha netminder Cole Bruns.
A tally by Lancer winger Ryan Tait kept the momentum rolling for Omaha at 7:04 mark of the third period, making the game 3-0 on a brutal wrist shot from the right side. Tait’s goal would be curtains for Brey, who was pulled after the score in favor of affiliate player Stefano Lekkas. The Herd finally hit the scoreboard 3:20 later after winger Keith Burchett threw a wrister in from the left circle after a pass from Dennis Kravchenko.
“We took our foot off the gas pedal here the last couple week,” said Eades. “Maybe the guys are looking forward to the playoffs. It is what it is.”
Burchett continued the Herd rally late in the third period at the 12:38 mark, tipping in a Garrett Cecere blast that came from the top of the point and bringing the Herd within 3-2. However, that rally would take its last breath with 1:06 in the game as an empty net goal by the Lancers sealed the 4-2 victory. Sioux Falls will now travel to Waterloo to face the Black Hawks Friday at 7:05.
“We played Waterloo tough the last two times we were there,” said Eades. “Everybody starts at 0-0 in the playoffs.”
Games 1 and 2 are next Friday and Saturday night in Waterloo before the best-of-five series shifts to Sioux Falls for Game 3 on Thursday, April 17th. Tickets are available at the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office or any Ticketmaster location. The entire schedule is below.
Tony Cola - Stampde