The USHL season is an eight-month grind, complete with peaks and valleys, and with 17 regular season games to play, the Sioux Falls Stampede is quickly ascending the mountain.
The Stampede tallied only one win in the year's opening month, but has won three-of-four since the calendar page turned to February, including Sunday's win over Waterloo, which snapped the Black Hawks' streak of 23 games without a loss in regulation.
"We really played a strong 60-minute game. Waterloo had a 23-game unbeaten streak that we snapped, and we really played a strong hockey game. The power play was two for two. It was great to finish them off," Stampede Head Coach Cary Eades said.
"It's definitely big getting that win. It's a big confidence booster for the team. Just getting that win makes you feel like you can do a lot of things if you do the little things right, good things will come," Stampede Forward C.J. Franklin said.
Sioux Falls has made a number of transactions in recent weeks, tweaking the roster for the stretch run.
"We had some opportunities to obtain some real good players. We think, on paper, that we're a contender. We have to prove that here in the last 17 games of the year. We've made good strides. We've won three of our last four. Now we want to get on a roll," Eades said.
"It feels like they've been with us all year. It's honestly a great transition for them and we welcomed them pretty good. It's a great fit for them here," Franklin said.
The new-look Herd plays three games in three days, all at home, starting Friday night, and the goal is a weekend sweep.
"We hope to get all three for sure. We've had great crowds. We had some struggles at home in January. We were able to beat Fargo in our last game. So, we want to carry that momentum of the Fargo home win and the Waterloo win on the road into tomorrow night's game against Des Moines," Eades said.
"I think just doing the little things right. Working hard every game, in and out. Just putting it all out on the line", Franklin said.