The Stampede have their sights set on a third Clark Cup championship, while Chicago eyes its second title in three years.
Sioux Falls won both its meetings with the Steel during the regular season, each a high-scoring game, but after only playing twice, the Stampede will be ready for whatever style of play comes their way.
“Every style fits us. I mean we don’t have, there’s no team we don’t match up well with us I think, just with our depth and stuff. We don’t really care who we face,” Stampede Forward Cade Borchardt said.
The Herd’s run to the finals has been paced by defense and goaltending. Jaxson Stauber has been stout in net, allowing less than a goal-and-a-half per game.
“Having him play the way that he’s been playing has been instrumental in our success. We have confidence in him and when you have confidence in your goaltender, it allows you to do a lot more in front of him,” Defenseman Max Crozier said.
Chicago’s offense will challenge the Stampede, as the Steel lead the USHL in playoff scoring. They’re paced by their top line, which features the league’s leading scorer, Nick Abruzzese (ab-ra-zee-zee)
“We’ll see how they stack up. I think that, from a defensive standpoint, our six defensemen are outstanding. We basically play them even. I think it’s going to be a really good series,” Head Coach Scott Owens said.
Sioux Falls will look to get its power play going. After converting over 21 percent during the regular season, the Stampede have seen that mark drop to less than 12 percent in the playoffs.
“You know we’re going to study their penalty kill a little bit better, or a little closer I should say, and just make sure we can find some little things,” Owens said.
Unlike their two previous series, the Herd have home-ice advantage, which they hope propels them to their first championship since 2015.
“When we need some momentum, they get into it and that gives us that jump for sure. That jump is going to be instrumental for us in game one and game two,” Crozier said.
The Stampede and Steel cross paths in game one of the Clark Cup Final Friday night at the PREMIER Center. The puck drops at 7:05.