After a year that saw Sioux Falls set a franchise record for most wins in a season, victories at home, and points, the pressure is on in Stampede country to duplicate those numbers.
"The fans, the media, ourselves...we all have high expectations," Stampede Head Coach Cary Eades said. "We have to get better each and every day, live up to that, and definitely not take anything for granted."
Sioux Falls is a team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season and is returning 13 players, including Sioux Falls native Zeb Knutson, who was third on the team in scoring last season.
"It is a big deal to have so many returners, and a lot of them are dominating guys," Knutson mentioned. "We are going to have a good leadership core."
But one of the 13 players not returning to the herd was the best goalie in the USHL last season, Charlie Lindgren.
"There are big shoes to fill, but I don't want to play like Charlie Lindgren," David Jacobson, the Stampede's new goaltender said. "I want to play like David Jacobson and do my part… help us win by doing whatever I can.
Another new player expected to contribute to the Herd's success this year is first round draft pick Chad Duchesne, who is also trying to figure out a balance between playing in a new league, and being away from his native Canada.
"Adjust to how you behave on and off the ice and how to adjust to the speed of the game," said Duchesne, "…how to just be a USHL player."
As the season begins for the Stampede, the goal is the same for the new guys and for the ones who have been here before: be the last team standing.
"I just want to win the Clark Cup. I really want that for myself and for the rest of the team," Returning Forward Dennis Kravchenko, who led the Stampede in scoring last season said. "I hope we can just come together as brothers and as a family and can win the whole thing."
The expectations are high for the Stampede this year, but as the saying goes no pressure…no diamonds.