The Sioux Falls Stampede were welcomed back into town on Saturday night via a police escort and dozens of fans who braved the cold and rainy weather to celebrate their third championship in the franchise's history.
It seemed only fitting that during their 20th anniversary season the Stampede would claim their third Clark Cup title and they did just that Friday night in the windy city. Five different players scored goals while Jaxson Stauber stopped 20 of 21 shots in goal to lead the Stampede to a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of the Clark Cup Final. The win gave the Stampede the series sweep and means the Clark Cup is coming back home to Sioux Falls.
The Herd finish their impressive run in the postseason with an 11-1 mark and capture their second title in just five years. Sioux Falls went a perfect 7-0 at home and 4-1 on the road. Jaxson Stauber was named playoff MVP after going 11-1 with a 1.46 GAA and a .941 save percentage. He set franchise records for most wins and best goals-against-average and save percentage.
The Stampede knew the Chicago Steel would come out flying with their season on the line and they did just that throwing 11 shots on goal, but Jaxson Stauber continued his strong play and kept them off the board. After two unsuccessful power play chances, the Herd would not disappoint on their third. Anthony Romano took the puck out of the left-wing corner and drove to the net where he was able to lift the puck over Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins for a 1-0 lead at 17:42. Chicago outshot the Herd 11-4 in the first.
Sioux Falls added to their lead 4:22 into the second period when Blake Bride tallied his second of the playoffs. Sam Stevens wristed a shot that was stopped by Robbins, but Bride picked up the rebound off his pad and into the net to make it a 2-0 game. It remained that way throughout most of the period with the Stampede outshooting the Steel 9-5. The Steel went on the power play at 14:05 trying to get back into the game, but the Stampede would take advantage of the opportunity. Stevens stole the puck at center ice and drove in on a breakaway getting a shot off that was stopped by Robbins, but grabbed his own rebound and lifted it over Robbins right shoulder and into the net for a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the third.
Sioux Falls controlled play throughout the third period and kept the three-goal lead until the 16:06 mark when Chicago finally broke through Stauber. Nick Abruzzese sent a pass into the slot for Josiah Slavin who quickly wristed a shot through the pads of Stauber to make it a 3-1 game. The Steel pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker to try to pull within one, but Jared Westcott would end things for good when he fired a shot from center ice into the empty net for a 4-1 lead at 18:33. Seconds later the Herd got the puck back and Ryan Johnson backhanded a shot from center high into the air that bounced all the way down into the Chicago net to seal it at 5-1 and the celebration was one for the Stampede who became Clark Cup champions.
Chicago outshot the Stampede 21-17 on the night and went 0-for-2 on the power play while the Stampede finished the night 1-for-5.
The Stampede also won Clark Cup titles in 2007 and 2015. An end of the year celebration will take place early next week. Exact details will be released soon, stay tuned to sfstampede.com or be sure to follow the Stampede @sfstampede on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.