SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Sioux Falls Stampede are playing to defend their title following their Clark Cup championship win in May. The Herd opened the season at the Fall Classic in Pittsburgh.
“I think it’s coming right along the right pace. You know, we were 4-2 on the preseason and a split on the road to start the year. I think we’re on pace to have a good club,” Stampede Head Coach Scott Owens said.
“All the young players are gelling better. They’re finding the systems easy and learning into it, but obviously there is more improvement for us. Pretty good start for us in Pittsburgh going 1-1 against a good Chicago team, who we know familiar from last year’s final, but I liked how we played,” Stampede right wing Ryan Sullivan said.
The Herd started the season with a 6-3 win over Des Moines, but suffered their first loss of the season with a 4-2 outcome against Chicago.
“A few guys stepped up that we thought had looked good in September; they were able to score and make plays. I thought our goal tending was good. I thought we were very competitive,” Owens said.
Fans will notice a lot of new faces with this year’s Stampede team. The team returns only four players; only two played full-time last season.
“We do think it’s a team with some offensive potential. I think they showed it out in Pittsburgh, but I do think it’s going to take a while for the real young guys to catch onto the league. It’s pretty competitive. It’s not as big as some of the teams we’ve had in the past, but it’s got some talent,” Owens said.
“We’ve really got good chemistry, teams like this year. The guys really connect with each other well and I think that’s pretty important to have on a team. Obviously looking back to last year, our chemistry was just so good and that’s really what made us good,” Stampede left wing Brenden Olson said.
The young Stampede team will play in the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in front of thousands of fans for the first time this season on Saturday.
“I think they are going to be a little bit in awe. I hope they aren’t going to be overwhelmed. I hope they’re excited to understand how big it is,” Owens said.
“I just tell them how much fun it is and you’re going to love it every night when you’re playing here and just wait until you see the crowd and how excited they are for you and you’ll be even more excited to play for them. So it’s a great experience,” Sullivan said.
It’s the home game since the title run, which means the 2018-19 Clark Cup championship banner will be raised prior to the puck drop.
“It’s going to be an emotional night; it’s going to be pretty cool. Obviously seeing all the fans here and seeing the banner raised is just going to be a pretty cool experience,” Olson said.
“You know, it’s going to be very, very enjoyable. I mean, last year’s group was such a fun group and it came together so well with the playoff run and winning the cup, and I think it’s going to be really great for our fans,” Owens said.
The Stampede host the Lincoln Stars on Saturday with the puck drop at 7:05.