A tough start to the second period for the Stampede led the way to five straight Des Moines goals giving the Buccaneers all they needed as they defeated the Sioux Falls Stampede 5-1 Friday night in front of 4,122 at the Sioux Falls Arena.
Five different players lit the lamp for the Bucs (10-10-1) while goaltender Billy Christopoulos bamboozled the Herd (13-6-1), pushing away 37 of 38 Sioux Falls shots. Tony Calderone had the lone goal for Sioux Falls and Jan Obernesser allowed three goals on 12 Des Moines attempts before heading to the bench in favor of Charlie Lindgren in the second period. It marked the first time since 2006 the Bucs were able to beat the Herd in regulation at the Arena.
"We allowed our frustrations of the puck not going in on one end to lose our mind defensively and it allowed basically five open net goals," said head coach Cary Eades.
Sioux Falls made life miserable for Buc goaltender Billy Christopoulos in the first period, racking up 16 shots on the netminder and battering the net with quality shot after quality shot. One of the attempts finally went in with 3:36 to go when Tony Calderone knocked in a rebound past the sprawling Christopoulos during the Herd's second power play of the period. The power play goal was the 12th time this season Sioux Falls has grabbed the first lead of the game at home. However, Des Moines obliterated any momentum the Herd had heading into the locker rooms as they struck with two lightning-quick tallies only 43 ticks into the second period.
"We played great hockey, built a 1-0 lead and one minute into the second period we're behind," said Eades.
Seth Adams evened things with a power play goal 12 seconds after the puck dropped, and 31 seconds later the Bucs seized the 2-1 lead with a nifty backhand move from winger Joseph Gambardella. The 2-1 score became 3-1 at 15:50 when the Bucs pounced on a chance with Obernesser out of position. That would be the night for Obernesser, who was pulled after the goal for Charlie Lindgren. Eades said the move was made "to shake things up and get our team back on track."
"I thought it worked for a while, but we're just not able to sustain anything through a long stretch right now," said Eades.
The Bucs came in leading the USHL in penalty minutes and bearing a reputation as a team that wasn't afraid of the box, a forewarning that was realized with under a minute to go in the period. Play was halted for several minutes with 51 seconds left after a huge, nasty brawl in front of the scorer's table that left Herd defenseman Zack Habscheid and forward Dennis Kravchenko out for the rest of the game.
"It was not a good exchange for us and it was a good exchange for them (Des Moines)," said Eades. "One of our tough guys came to aide another."
Two more Des Moines goals in the third period sealed the Herd's fate, letting Christopoulos and the Bucs glide to the end for a 5-1 victory over the Herd. The loss leaves the Herd scrambling for answers before a tough match tomorrow night against the Lincoln Stars.
"We have to play as good of a team game as we did last time they were in here," said Eades. "They (Lincoln) have a real good team and we need to sustain a great team effort from start to finish."