Sioux Falls, SD--Nails were bitten and knuckles were white at the Arena Saturday night as the Sioux Falls Stampede clinched on with all their might for a 5-4 win over the Chicago Steel in front of a sellout crowd of 4,772 fans. The hard-fought victory marked the seventh time this season the Herd has played in front of a capacity crowd.
Keith Burchett tallied three points and was one of five players to touch the twine for the Herd (31-16-6), while Art Brey stopped 19 of 23 shots from the Steel. Sioux Falls remains three points behind the Musketeers after Sioux City defeated Tri-City Saturday evening.
"We were able to regroup," said head coach Cary Eades. "We were able to come back and get back to our game. We'll learn from situations and try to have a little bit more of a killer instinct."
The Stampede opened the scoring in the first period for the second straight night, this time a split-second wrist shot from Zeb Knutson in between circles only 1:31 into the game. A Stampede tripping call at 3:56 rewarded the Steel with their first power play of the game, and they would capitalize as Robby Jackson threw in a wrister from the left circle 50 seconds into the man advantage to make it 1-1. The tie held until a mere 14.6 seconds remained on the clock, at which time the Herd broke the tie on a gorgeous one-two play between Keith Burchett and Jason Stephanik. Burchett tossed the puck across the right circle to Stephanik, who struck pay dirt for the second game in two nights to retake the lead for Sioux Falls.
Sioux Falls opened the second period picking up where they left off in the first, lighting the lamp thanks to a rocket of a shot by Keith Burchett, his third point of the night. The two-goal lead turned into a three-goal lead 2:25 later when Tony Calderone tipped in a Chad Duchesne shot from the left point for his fourth point in two evenings.
Calderone's goal would be the end of the positives for the Stampede in the period as the Steel rallied for three straight goals in a little over seven minutes, starting with another tally from Robby Jackson at 8:27. Two more scores from former herd defenseman Viktor Bjorkung and Danny Fetzer penalty shot knotted things up 4-4 heading into intermission in Sioux Falls.
"We had a team down 4-1, but we wanted to make it interesting for the fans," said Eades. "You have to credit Chicago for coming back and tying the game."
The final tie-breaker and game-winning goal came 8:49 into the third period when defenseman Ed McGovern blasted a rocket from the left point, giving the Herd the 5-4 advantage and sealing the victory. Though the Stampede finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, they ended the weekend with four points after a Friday-Saturday sweep.
"We beat a very hot hockey team two nights in a row," said Eades. "That's four points in the bank. There are lots of things to move forward on."