Sioux Falls, SD—Austen Swankler’s goal 7:59 into the third period proved to be the game winner as the Sioux Falls Stampede earned their fifth straight win on home ice, 6-4 over Central Illinois Thursday night.
The Herd have now won 10 of their last 11 games at the PREMIER Center and are 14-3-1 on home ice this season. Six different players tallied goals and Alec Calvaruso stopped 15 shots for the Herd who moved into a tie with Des Moines for third place in the Western Conference with the win and improved to 23-10-4. The Stampede finished the month of January with a 7-2-1 mark.
Even though it was a Thursday night game, it looked anything like that in the first period. The Flying Aces grabbed the games first goal at 9:20 when Phillip Lapointe tallied his 7th goal of the season. Off a face-off Ryan Seedem sent a pass to the right point for Lapointe who quickly one-timed the puck through traffic and into the upper left-hand corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last for long as the Herd responded at 11:06 when Andre Lee posted his 13th goal of the season. Blake Bride took the puck behind the Flying Aces net and sent a pass into the slot which was gloved down by Lee who faked out Flying Aces goaltender Mitchell Gibson and beat him on a backhand shot to tie the game, 1-1. Sioux Falls outshot the Flying Aces 10-7 in the period.
Sioux Falls came out flying in the second and converted on the power play just 4:16 into the period. Jami Krannila fired a shot from the slot that bounced off a defender and onto the stick of Brian Chambers who quickly knocked the puck into the net for a 2-1 lead. Less than three minutes later the Herd were back on the power play and scored again, this time on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play which involved Austen Swankler to Cade Borchardt who found Artem Ivanyuzhenkov in the slot who one-timed the puck past Gibson for his team leading 17th goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.
The Flying Aces responded with a wrap-around goal from Stephen Halliday, but the Herd retook the two-goal lead at 11:35 when Anthony Romano scored. Jared Westcott fired a shot from the high slot that missed the net, but bounced to Romano who wristed a shot off the left pad of Gibson and into the net for a 4-2 lead. Sioux Falls outshot Central Illinois 13-6 in the period.
Things got crazy in the third as the Flying Aces scored twice to tie the game 6:50 into the period. The Stampede would bend, but wouldn’t break and responded at 7:59 when Austen Swankler played hero again. Ryan Johnson sent a pass in the neutral zone to Swankler weaved his way through traffic and in between the circles before wristing a shot past the glove side of Gibson for a 5-4 lead. The Flying Aces pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker in the final 90 seconds, but the Herd sealed the game when Ryan Sullivan skated in an put in an empty netter to secure a 6-4 victory.
The Stampede outshot the Flying Aces 28-19 and finished 2-for-5 on the power play while the Aces were 1-for-4.
Sioux Falls returns to action Friday night when they host Lincoln at 7:05 PM for Military Appreciation Night. Current military members and veterans can receive free tickets through the Stampede office by stopping by Friday between 9 AM and 3 PM. Players will be wearing specialty jerseys that will be given away through a live auction after the game with Last Chance Auction Company. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Warriors Never Give Up. Tickets are available through the PREMIER Center or Ticketmaster.