The Chicago Steel did what six other teams could not this season as they snapped the Sioux Falls Stampede’s seven-game undefeated streak at home with a 7-4 victory Saturday night at the Arena. Stampede winger Todd Skirving continued his tremendous play with two more tallies, but the Steel (8-2-1) were too much for the Herd (8-4-0), who were coming off a 6-4 home win over the Fargo Force the previous evening. Zeb Knutson and Matt Van Voorhis also scored for Sioux Falls, with starting goaltender Jan Obernesser stopping 9 of 13 Steel shots before being pulled for Friday night’s netminder Charlie Lindgren who finished the game with eight saves.
“It’s tough to take in right now,” said Skirving, who leads the Herd with nine goals on the season. “We had the Steel coming into our barn tonight and they’re a great hockey team.”
An ill-fated puck broke the Stampede’s streak of scoring first at home as it wandering into the goal off of Sam Rothstein’s skate, giving Chicago a 1-0 early into the opening 20 minutes. The small black discs were flying all over the place in front of Obernesser in the first period and the Steel doubled their lead to 2-0 with a deflection that was credited to Chris Dodero, pitting the Herd in a rare two goal hole on their home ice.
“We kind of held back at the beginning and there was no physical presence,” said Skirving. “The start of the game killed us.”
Herd winger and Sioux Falls native Zeb Knutson assured that deficit didn’t last too long, as he chipped the puck into the net after goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos misplayed it. The Herd brought the contest back to 2-2 courtesy of Todd Skirving’s seventh goal in four games with 4:06 left, but the Steel would respond rudely with a pair of their own scores, the first a scorching rocket from Joel Benson just outside the top of the right circle. A mere 33 seconds later Steel center Phillip Marinaccio put Chicago back on top by two scores with a graceful backhanded shot past Obernesser at the 17:53 mark.
Charlie Lindgren came out in net for the Herd in a quick-paced second period that saw Chicago and Sioux Falls take turns lighting the lamp. Marinaccio did the honors as he added another goal first for the Steel for a 5-2 lead, though the Herd were far from discouraged. None other than Todd Skirving replied for Sioux Falls with a nasty wrister into the top left corner of Sakellaropoulos’ net on the powerplay, keeping the Herd only down 5-3 going into the final period, maintaining hope for a team that has proven it can score in bunches.
However, the team from the Windy City removed most of the suspense in the building with two more goals including an empty-netter in the final period to take the 7-4 victory and present the Stampede with their first loss of the season at the Arena.
“Like coach (Cary) Eades said, we got just knocked off the bull,” said Skirving. “A little bit of adversity can be nice to have early on after the winning streak we just had. It’s a little bump in the road but we’re going to get back up on our feet and overcome it.”
The Stampede will travel to Kearney Friday night to face the Tri-City Storm 7:05 PM at the Viaero Event Center before returning to Sioux Falls next Saturday for “Pink in the Rink Night” at 7:05 PM. The Herd will be playing on pink ice and wearing special pink jerseys that will be raffled off during the game. Proceeds from the game will benefit the Avera Cancer Institute. Tickets are available through the Sioux Falls Arena Box Office or any Tickemaster location.
Courtesy: Tony Cola, Stampede