SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Believe it or not, it’s already hockey season as the Stampede took to the ice this past weekend, splitting their games at the USHL Fall Classic. After finishing in last place in the Western Conference a year ago, the Herd are looking to get back to the Clark Cup Playoffs as they enter year two under Head Coach Marty Murray.
The Stampede gave up the third most goals across the USHL a year ago and made sure to address that area this offseason.
“We drafted Isak Posch second overall in the draft this year. Young Swedish goaltender committed to St. Cloud State. Big body, I think he looks the part so far and we have some good goaltending depth as well,” Head Coach Marty Murray said.
The Herd’s defensive core will look different this year, with just one key returner back, but feel they have the players for a stout blue-line group.
“Our d-core, with the returning players we have as well as some new faces, Cal Thomas, drafted by Arizona this year in the NHL draft, he’s really taken some big steps. We think he’s going to be a key contributor on the back end,” Murray said.
“Knowing what Marty does and what Marty wants done, it’s good to have a guy leading these younger guys and try to help them learn the system,” Third-year Stampede Defenseman Brandon Chabrier said.
Sioux Falls lost 8 of its top 10 scorers. While they’ll miss the firepower that 1st round NHL draft pick Cole Sillinger and others brought, they believe they have the pieces up front to be a potent attack.
“Best thing about this year’s forwards compared to last year’s forwards is we’re deep. I got a lot of trust in the other forwards, I think we all trust each other and when we’re going we’re really good,” Forward JP Turner said.
Just 10 players return from last year, but with this season having a more normal feel to it, the players say building team comradery has come quickly.
“Last year with COVID we couldn’t bond as a team really well with all the restrictions. Not going out to eat with guys and not being able to hangout with guys outside the rink,” Chabrier said.
“This year you know we have more freedom. We’re bonding really well and all the guys get along really great. We got a tight group this year. It’s super exciting,” Turner said.
The Stampede continue their season Saturday at rival Sioux City. They’ll host Lincoln on Saturday, October 9th for their home opener.