Hats were on the ice and pucks were in the net as the Sioux Falls Stampede manhandled the Tri-City Storm 5-2 Saturday night at the Sioux Falls Arena. The win extended their torrid undefeated home winning streak to six games, a feat accomplished by the Herd once in 11 years.
Todd Skirving recorded a hat trick for Sioux Falls (7-3-0) midway through the second period, while Dennis Kravchenko added a goal and two assists and C.J. Franklin posted the final goal for the home team. Jan Obernesser also enjoyed a nice evening in net, only allowing two Tri-City goals on 23 shots. Brian Ward had the lone two goals for Tri-City (3-5-1).
"We've got a good streak going at home right now," said Skirving, who has four goals in the last two games. "Everyone in the lineup is scoring and every line is working hard."
The player who had the most important goal Friday evening put the Stampede on top first in the opening period when the veteran Skirving wristed a shot past Johan Mattson from the top of the left circle during a power play for his third goal of the year. Skirving's goal marked the sixth straight time Sioux Falls scored first in a see-saw opening 20 minutes.
The period was a tale of two contrasting halves, with the Stampede controlling the first while the Storm dominated the latter. Tri-City eventually wiped out the Herd's one-goal advantage at 11:39 when Brian Ward made a nifty little move in front of Obernesser and slid the puck under his pad, evening the contest at 1-1.
However, Skirving carried his hot play into the second period, blasting his second goal through Mattsson at 7:45 and clinched a hat trick almost three minutes later in the midst of another Stampede man advantage, leaving the score at 3-1 in favor of Sioux Falls.
"We expect big things from our veterans and Todd came out huge right away," said Dennis Kravchenko, who was one of Skirving's linemates for the evening. "It really makes the younger guys feel better when they see vets getting goals out there. It makes everything that much easier."
The success on the power play was quite a change from Friday when the Herd came up empty-handed on five tries.
"We've been talking to the guys about shooting the puck," said head coach Cary Eades, whose team has put up 28 goals in six games at the Arena this season. "We created a good breakout and Todd fired one from the top of the circle for the first one."
A Dennis Kravchenko wrist shot from the left side with 47 seconds left in the period added another goal to the deficit, though Tri-City would retort promptly 29 seconds later sliced the Herd lead to 4-2 before the last intermission.
C.J. Franklin made sure the Stampede held on for the victory at the 12:22 mark with a sweet little wrister from Tony Calderone directly in front of Mattsson.
Sioux Falls finished 2 for 5 on the power play Saturday night, while Tri-City whiffed on all three man advantages they went on.
"These were two big division wins for us in Sioux City and Tri-City," said Eades. "With these home games we have to take advantage of them and put some hay in the barn."