Sioux Falls, SD--The Sioux Falls Stampede concluded a rare three game in three night stretch on a triumphant note as they controlled the Green Bay Gamblers 4-1 in front of 3,537 at the Sioux Falls Arena Sunday evening.
"This is where it gets down to the grinding part of the season, when you have a three-in-three like this," said Skirving, who's shorthanded goal in the third period gave the Herd a vital three-goal lead with 9:09 remaining in the game. "I thought we handled it pretty well."
Two goals from Thomas Forgione along with tallies from Sam Rothstein and Skirving provided the offense for Sioux Falls (33-13-2), while ever-reliable goaltender Charlie Lindgren prevented 28 of 29 Gamblers, who were also playing their third game in three days. The victory boosts the Herd's lead in the Western Conference up to five points over the idle Fargo Force.
Herd center Sam Rothstein sparked the scoring with a wacky goal at 9:09 of the first when his shot from the left side skipped off the back of Green Bay netminder Richard Ullberg and into the goal. A little over ten minutes later, Thomas Forgione bumped the lead to 2-0 when he fooled Ullberg with a gorgeous deke off of a feed from Dennis Kravchenko, his sixth point in six contests. Neither goal was on the power play, as the Herd whiffed in two tries although they dominated the shot on goal stat in the first, 14-7.
"When you're a little bit tired getting a lead is really important," said head coach Cary Eades. "It's especially hard to come back when both teams are tired."
Green Bay brought the offensive pressure in the following period, getting multiple opportunities on the Herd and nearly evening the shots on goal. Sioux Falls' power play struggles continued in the second, as they couldn't get the ever-important three-goal lead during a 5-on-3 with just under five minutes to go. In their last four games the Herd have gone a combined 0-for-17 on the man advantage, with their last power play strike coming on Feb. 13 against the Omaha Lancers.
"We've lost our confidence in that area a little bit and we're a little bit hesitant," said Eades. "We're creating some chances, but we just need one to go in and give us a lift."
Though the Herd didn't score on a power play of their own for the fifth straight game, Skirving's goal with 9:09 to go during a Gambler man advantage finally awarded Sioux Falls the three-goal margin they were seeking. The 6-foot-2 winger evaded a Gambler defender and fooled Ullberg with a backhand move, his 19th goal of the season.
"Sammy (Rothstein) made a forecheck and I just basically filled my lane like Coach (Eades) wants us to do," said Skirving, who scored last night in Omaha as well. "I took it to the net and fortunately it went in for us."
Sioux Falls found the cushion short-lived as Gambler leading scorer Kyle Novak shrunk the lead back to two with 7:08 on the clock. However, the Herd were undeterred by the Green Bay rally and Forgione sank the final nail into the coffin a bit over four minutes later with a his second score of the night, clinching a 4-1 win for the club from Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls ended the game 0 for 4 on the power play, with their opponent successful once in six chances.
The Stampede and Gamblers will go at it again this Friday when the teams meet again, this time in Green Bay. Game time is 7:05 PM and fans can hear all the action live on KELO-AM 1320 starting with the Next2New Wireless Pre-Game show at 6:40 PM.