The team that finished dead last in the USHL in points last year set their franchise record for wins in season Friday night as the Sioux Falls Stampede routed the Des Moines Buccaneers 6-1 at the Arena for their history-making 44th victory of the year.
“It’s a good accomplishment,” said Todd Skirving, who had two points for Sioux Falls and was a remaining player from last year’s squad. “We’ll sit on it for the night and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
C.J. Franklin and Zeb Knutson had three points apiece for Sioux Falls (44-17-2), while goaltender Charlie Lindgren stopped 12 of 13 shots before making way for David Jacobson who stopped all six shots he faced. The victory meant an undefeated year in regulation for the Herd against their conference rivals, going 5-1-0 in six contests.
“I’m very proud of our sixty minute effort tonight. That’s the kind of hockey we play that makes us difficult to beat,” said head coach Cary Eades, who won his 100th career USHL game last Saturday against Dubuque. “We were hard in all areas and really had an extra jump in our step.”
Knutson grabbed the 1-0 lead with 3:08 on the clock in the first on a nice play from Franklin, who worked his way around a defender with the puck and dumped it to his linemate in perfect position. The Minnesota State-Mankato recruit took the feed on the right side and banged it past Des Moines goalie Nick Ellis for his 25th goal this year.
“C.J. had the puck and he was working hard to fight off a guy. I figured I’d come in behind him for support and he ended up going in the middle,” said Knutson. “The five-hole ended up being open and it went in.”
Two consecutive scores by Sioux Falls within 37 ticks of each other provided the Herd a 3-0 cushion 3:43 into the second period. Franklin took credit for the first of the pair with a nasty wrist shot from the left circle, his team-leading 32nd tally of the year. Mere seconds later fellow Minnesotan Ryan Siiro bumped it to a three goal margin with slicing shot in between the circles from a Dennis Kravchenko pass during a beautiful 3-on-2 rush. A Conner Valesano goal with 10:31 in the period gave the Herd three scores in the period and a comfortable 4-0 pillow entering the final twenty minutes.
“We seemed to be finding the back of the net pretty easy,” said Knutson. “Sometimes it just goes your way.”
The Herd piled on two more goals for a 6-0 lead before a multiple brawls on the ice halted things at 6:29. Multiple players from both teams were sent off, and at one time the Herd had seven players sitting in their penalty box. A total of 11 penalties were called and a combined 98 penalty minutes were called during the game.
“It’s a hockey game and that’s going to happen in any kind of hockey game,” said Skirving. “I thought the guys held their composure there for the most part.”
Des Moines broke the shutout shortly after with 12:25 remaining in the game on a fluky bounce, but it would be no more than a note in the stat book as the Herd coasted to a 6-1 triumph and Lindgren’s 35th win of the season.
The Herd finish the regular season tomorrow night against the Omaha Lancers at 7:05 PM.
Courtesy: Jim Olander, Stampede