Fargo, ND—The Sioux Falls Stampede scored four times in the third period and increased their lead for first place in the West to five points with a 6-3 victory over the Fargo Force Friday night at Scheels Arena. Sam Rothstein scored twice while Thomas Forgione added a goal and two assists in the win. Charlie Lindgren earned his league leading 24th win of the season in goal with 30 saves.
The win improved the Stampede's record to 32-12-2 while Fargo fell to 28-15-5 and five points behind the Stampede for first place in the Western Conference. The Herd also improved to 5-0-1 against the Force this season and won for the third straight game.
The Stampede came out flying in the first and grabbed the first goal of the game 33:39 when Sam Rothstein tallied his 15th goal of the season. Thomas Forgione wristed a shot from just inside the right circle that was deflected in by Rothstein who was standing in front of the net and tapped the directed the puck into the back of the net. The Herd took a 2-0 lead at 7:55 when Todd Skirving recorded his 17th goal of the season. Zeb Knutson took the puck behind the Force net and fed Skirving inside the slot who quickly tipped the puck past the glove side of Fargo netminder Brendan Jensen. Sioux Falls would outshoot the Force 13-7 in the period and take that 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The Stampede continued to control play until midway through the second period when Gabe Gurtler was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. He converted on the penalty shot when he tipped the puck through the pads of Stampede netminder Charlie Lindgren to make it a 2-1 game. Minutes later the Force scored again when Chris Dines wrist shot from the high slot was tipped by Jared Dedenbach and bounced over the pads over Lindgren and into the net to make it a 2-2 game. Fargo outshot the Herd 13-6 in the period.
The third period was full of excitement as the game went back-and-forth. The Herd gained a 3-2 lead just 2:08 into the period when Ian Mansfield scored right off the face-off. Valesano won the draw right back to Mansfield who wristed a shot past the glove side of Jensen. Austin Ortega answered for Fargo though just 2:05 later when his shot from a tough angle found its way through the pads of Lindgren to tie the game 3-3.
The game wouldn't stay tied for long though as the Herd regained the lead just 26 seconds later when Rothstein scored his second goal of the night. Thomas Forgione and Ryan Siiro played the puck into the slot where Rothstein picked it up and wristed it past Jensen to give the Herd a 4-3 advantage. The Stampede took a 5-3 lead at 6:44 when they scored again on another face-off goal. Kyle Schempp won the draw back into the top of the right circle where Tony Calderone fired a shot into the back of the net to give the Herd a 5-3 advantage. Sioux Falls would seal the game at 18:31 when Thomas Forgione scored on an empty net to give the Stampede a 6-3 victory.
Fargo outshot the Herd 33-29 on the night and finished 0-for-5 on the powerplay while the Herd were 0-for-3.
Sioux Falls returns to action Saturday night when they travel to Omaha to face the Lancers at Ralston Arena. Game time is 7:05 PM and fans can listen live on KELO-AM 1320 starting at 6:40 PM or watch online through www.ushl.fasthockey.com. The Herd close out the weekend with a home game on Sunday against Green Bay at 5:05 PM.