Sioux Falls, SD--Revenge was oh so sweet for the Sioux Falls Stampede Saturday night as they defeated the Fargo Force 2-1 in a too-close-for-comfort game at the Arena. The Force overcame the Stampede in the Western Conference Finals in five games, putting a damper on a record-breaking 2012-2013 campaign. Tony Calderone's goal in the second period snapped a 1-1 tie and provided the Herd the boost they would need to get their first win at home this young season.
"That was a big one," said Calderone. "We had a rough night last night but we came back strong tonight. A good, hard-fought win." Connor Valesano also scored for the Herd (7-3-1) while netminder Art Brey pushed away 16 of 17 pucks thrown at him. The Herd walloped opposing goaltender Cameron Johnson with shots, barraging the net with 50 shots in the game, a nice change from the previous night in which the Herd allowed 53 shots in a 6-2 loss to Waterloo.
Things in the first period seemed to be headed the same direction as last night, with the Herd finding themselves on an early 5-on-3 at 5:53. The Force capitalized on the opportunity, getting the puck into the net with an extra man on the ice 7:22 into the night. In a strong showing of resolve, Sioux Falls struck gold on a power play chance of its own with 1:49 left on the clock. The game-tying goal came from Valesano as the winger sat on the doorstep on the right side of the crease and tipped in a blast from defenseman Ed McGovern, leaving both teams 1 for 2 on the man advantage heading into the locker rooms.
"It wasn't the scripted way we wanted to start the game, giving up another 5-on-3," said head coach Cary Eades. "You have to fight through some adversity. I thought our team showed a lot of resolve after that."
Matters in the second period remained square at one despite two straight Stampede power plays, but that would all change with just 2:11 to go before intermission thanks to a highlight reel play by forward Dakota Joshua. The Deerborn, Mich. native gracefully dished the puck in between his legs to a waiting Tony Calderone, who promptly wristed the biscuit into the basket to break the 1-1 tie. The score gave the Herd their first lead at home heading into the final period play this year.
"He (Joshua) made an unbelievable pass," said Calderone. "He outworked the guy and was able to get it to me in the slot."
The Herd defense clamped down on the Force in the final thirty minutes, allowing a mere 3 shots on Brey and squashing a huge Fargo power play. A Fargo penalty at 1:29 all but removed any advantage to sending the goaltender to the bench as time winded down, and the Herd clenched tight for a close 2-1 win over their northern foes.
Coming off the big win Sioux Falls will spend their next five games without offensive weapons Zeb Knutson, C.J. Franklin and Dennis Kravchenko, as they play for Team USA in the World Junior A Challenge in Canada starting next weekend.
"We're going to be missing them for the next five games, so it's going to give us an opportunity for some other players to get some ice and hopefully really develop.," said Eades.
Sioux Falls will hit the road next week for their longest trip of the year as they play in Ann Arbor, Mich. against the U.S. Under-18 Development Team on Wednesday before traveling to Youngstown for a pair of games with the Phantoms on Friday and Saturday. The Herd will return to their friendly confines Friday, Nov. 9 when they host I-29 rival, Sioux City. Tickets are available through the Sioux Falls Arena box office or any Ticketmaster location.