After four over-times, nearly 123 minutes of game play and five hours, Sioux Falls Stampede forward Austen Swankler ended the longest game in USHL history during the Tier I era.
“It felt like it because it was actually a really good game, it wasn’t just tired teams stumbling around. There were plays being made on each end and good scoring chances," said Stampede Head Coach Scott Owens.
“It was pretty crazy, that was one of the few chances where it honestly probably shouldn’t have went in but got lucky and just drove to the net, but it was a pretty crazy moment," said Swankler.
"Yeah it was like finally, you know their goalie played an outstanding game, made some really big saves and it was like finally, finally I get to go home," said goaltender Jaxson Stauber.
“I said it was the game that would never end, and it kind of felt that way just because so many good saves by both goaltenders, and really just a crazy game like you’d expect, but to go four over-times, nobody would have ever expected that," said Stampede President Jim Olander.
In a game with 93 combined shots, Stauber stopped 39 shots, en route to the 3-2 final, advancing the Stampede to the semifinals.
“You know mentally it’s tough when you’re on the ice for that long, but you’ve just got to find a way to quiet your mind. For me, I just take some deep breaths and just tried to focus," said Stauber.
The Herd now have to quickly bounce back from their historic win and prep to play in Waterloo. Had Sioux Falls lost, they would’ve have had to be back at the Premier Center for the deciding game three Thursday night.
“The mindset was that it was sudden death, and I think our guys embraced that and played hard. Both team would have been in the same boat, you know they would have had a little bit more of an emotional lift but it would have been very, very tough and then to go onto the next series. So I’m just happy the way it all came out," said Owens.
After not practicing on the ice on Wednesday, the Stampede are riding the momentum off of Tuesday's win in hope of keeping their season alive in the next round.
“We’ve been successful against them, but playoffs is a whole new thing and they’ll be rested, so we’ve got to be extra prepared," said Stauber.
“In Waterloo, they’re pretty crazy there and they have a good fan base, but it doesn’t compare to here. Hopefully we get a couple win, bring it back to home and win it here," said Swankler.
The Stampede will play games one and two of the conference semifinal series on Friday and Saturday night in Waterloo. Game three will be back at the Denny Sanford Premier Center on Tuesday. Game four is needed would also be in Sioux Falls next Wednesday. If a game five needed to be played, that would be back in Waterloo a week from this Saturday. Waterloo edged Sioux Falls for the first round bye after having more regulation and overtime wins, despite the Stampede going 4-1-1 against them this season.