After having their undefeated home winning streak snapped last weekend the Sioux Falls Stampede showed no lingering effect Saturday evening, getting back to business and defeating the division rival Lincoln Stars 5-2 at the Arena in front of sold out crowd of 4,759 fans. The game was played on pink ice and the Stampede wore special pink jerseys to benefit the Avera Cancer Institute.
Sam Rothstein paved the way for Sioux Falls (10-4-0) with three points (2 G, 1 A) while goaltender Charlie Lindgren proved a steadfast barrier in net, only allowing two goals on 28 shots. Zeb Knutson, Sean Murphy and C.J. Franklin contributed the other three Sioux Falls scores. The win improved their home record to 8-1-0 and was their 10th win overall in their last 12 games.
"We played a hard-nosed, physical and disciplined hockey game and when we play like that we're tough to beat," said head coach Cary Eades. "Lincoln and Waterloo are the cream of the crop in our division."
The opening period resembled a professional boxing match more than a hockey game as it seemed a minute didn't go by with at least one player from each team sitting in the penalty box. Tensions came to a head early at 4:52 as Dennis Kravchenko and Jake Wood duked it out, followed by a bout three seconds later between Ed McGovern and Dominik Shine, leaving the well-represented Herd crowd erupting in cheers and applause. The Stars played a chippy game all night, though the Stampede were impermeable to their antics for the most part.
"Every team gets mad and we understand their frustration," said Stampede leading-scorer Dennis Kravchenko." "We stayed above it and we put pucks in the net."
Though the Herd squandered their three power play chances of the opening period, Sam Rothstein provided the Stampede the first lead of the game with 2:25 left when he chipped the puck in from the left side past Teichroeb, letting the Herd go into the locker room up 1-0.
Two Herd goals by Sean Murphy and C.J. Franklin kept the Stampede on top despite handing the Stars four power play chances in the following period, only one of which the team from Nebraska capitalized on. A rare shorthanded Sioux Falls goal via Sean Murphy doubled the Herd's lead at 4:05 when the forward punched in a rebound off a Rothstein shot, his first goal of the season.
"The goal gave us confidence to go up on Lincoln," said Kravchenko. "Getting that goal made it a lot easier for us."
Lincoln and Sioux Falls alternated lamp-lighting duties in the second, with two Lincoln tallies sandwiching the Franklin score and the Stampede leading 3-2 at the end of two periods. The Stampede's perfect record of 7-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes was kept intact thanks in part to an effortless goal by Rothstein on a breakaway at 5:46. The Minnetonka, Minn. Native fooled the Star netminder with convincing backhand-forehand move for his sixth goal of the year, getting his team back on top by two goals at 4-2 and all but clinching the contest for the Herd.
Lindgren and the Stampede held on the rest of the way, with Zeb Knutson slamming the final nail in the coffin with a goal at 13:26. The victory was the second in two nights for Lindgren, who shut out Tri-City Friday evening and only allowed two scores in 46 shots between Friday and Saturday night.
"We've been alternating our goaltenders and we decided to go with the hot hand," said Eades. "He (Lindgren) earned it tonight and played very solid."