A four-goal comeback effort by the Fargo Force wasn’t enough to prevent the red-hot Sioux Falls Stampede from collecting their lucky seventh home win in a row, as the Herd downed their division rival 6-4 in front of 3,719 fans Friday night at the Arena. Forwards Todd Skirving and C.J. Franklin had two goals apiece, while Zeb Knutson and Tony Calderone each had a goal and assist as well for Sioux Falls, who is an undefeated 7-0-0 at home this year.
The goals were Skirving’s fifth and sixth in three games, continuing his absolutely torrid pace for the Herd. Sioux Falls built up a 4-0 lead after three quick goals in the second period, but the Force tied it up after three rapid-fire scores of their own in the second and a strike 6:27 into the final period. However, Calderone clinched the victory a little over 90 seconds later when he snapped a wrist shot home from a Matt Van Voorhis pass.
“We’re comfortable in our home barn, so we didn’t panic,” said Skirving, who has seven goals on the season. “Coach came in and we stayed calm.”
There are few certainties in life – the sun will rise, winter will be cold and shopping malls will be crowded at Christmas time. The Stampede scoring first at home is quickly adding itself to the list as Skirving one-timed a beauty via Zeb Knutson from the right side at 11:22 in the opening period, his fifth goal in three contests and the seventh home game in seven Sioux Falls has hit the scoreboard before its opponent.
The rout seemed to be on in favor of Sioux Falls only 3:12 into the second period, smacking Fargo with three goals in under two minutes for a hefty and what looked to be safe 4-0 advantage. C.J. Franklin, Zeb Knutson and Skirving combined for the trio of Herd scores in the period, but a Connor Valesano roughing penalty at 3:39 swiftly placed the game’s momentum in the hands of the Force. Fargo center Nate Arentz capitalized on the power play, giving his team its first tally of the night and igniting a Fargo firestorm. Almost three minutes later the blaze was kept aflame thanks to a Brendan Harms score at 7:18, chopping the Stampede’s lead in half to 4-2. Fans in the anxious crowd had little time to breathe as the Force took a mere 22 seconds to add their next score, courtesy of Fargo defenseman Taylor Fleming.
“I’ve got less hair and what hair I do have is gray because of game like this,” head coach Cary Eades said with a laugh. “There are some things we definitely have to learn about getting up and having our minds go to mush.”
Another unfortunate Sioux Falls penalty presented the Force with their third power play of the evening, and they grabbed the chance to even the game 4-4 only nine seconds into the man advantage with a score from forward Gabe Guertler. Nevertheless, the tie was short-lived as Herd veteran Matt Van Voorhis found Calderone on the right side, who sunk the game-winning puck.
“Van Voorhis made an unbelievable pass across the ice which set up that play,” said Calderone, who was the first overall pick in the 2012 USHL Entry Draft. “I saw the spot and I shot.”
The Stampede have scored 34 goals in seven games this season at the Arena, a positive sign for a team that struggled mightily on offense last season.
“We’ve a full team here and every line’s going,” said Skriving. “It doesn’t matter who’s scoring as long as we’re getting the wins, especially here at home.”
The Stampede return to the Arena tomorrow night to face the Chicago Steel at 7:05 PM. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free Stampede commemorative puck. Doors open at 6:15 PM and tickets are available at the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office.
Courtesy: Jim Olander, Stampede VP Broadcast & Communications