Three first year forwards are giving the Sioux Falls Stampede quite the boost this season. As of right now, the Herd sits in first place in the Western Conference thanks in part to 41 goals combined from C.J. Franklin, Tony Calderone and Sioux Falls native Zeb Knutson.
With a new head coach and plenty of new faces, players didn't know what to expect heading into this year, but with a seven game winning streak and the top spot in the west in their hands, it's safe to say the guys are meshing pretty well.
"I wasn't expecting it. Back home I've been with the same kids I don't know how many years,” Franklin said. “Coming here I thought it was going to be a huge difference but the vets welcomed us quickly and we got all together real fast.”
Franklin along with Calderone and Knutson are three of five Stampede players with 13 or more goals. The first-year standouts have bought into Coach Cary Eades style and are executing it on the ice.
"We're a hard working team. We'll outwork you all over the ice. It's really good. We got guys that can bury our chances. Nothing really flashy, we're just hard-nosed Stampede hockey," Calderone said.
The Herd will take that style on the road now and play nine games away from the arena over the next month. Knutson, who has 14 goals and 12 assists, doesn't expect anything to change.
"Just because the fans aren't there doesn't mean we don't have to play as hard or we don't have anything to play for,” Knutson said. “We play for ourselves and our team and that's what we're going to have to do on the road.”
The Herd takes on Des Moines this Friday.