LINCOLN, Neb. – The Sioux Falls Stampede dropped the weekend series opener by a 5-3 score at the Ice Box Friday night. The Stars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first and commanded the game from there. Jared Westcott, Garrett Pinoniemi and Austin Heidemann all scored in the contest for the Herd, while Nate Reid made his first start in net since Oct. 11, stopping 24 of 29 shots.
The Lincoln Stars had been struggling as of late, dropping their past two matchups with the Omaha Lancers and were 3-5-2 in their past ten games. The team was able to command the lead with a goal 1:43 into the first period from Josh Groll, his twelfth of the season, that beat goaltender Nate Reid on the glove side. The Stars extended the lead 2-0 ten minutes later with a goal from Owen Michaels assisted by Robert McCollum and Zach Urdahl.
Jared Westcott cut the deficit in half with a goal in the second period on the Stampede penalty kill. Westcott was able to steal the puck on the move in the neutral and raced in to beat goaltender Jacob Mucitelli one on one for the unassisted, short-handed tally. Spencer Smith responded with a goal for the home crowd three minutes later to extend the late back to two.
Forward Matt Barbolini scored his twelfth goal of the season to extend the lead 4-1 in favor of the Stars one minute into the third period. One minute later Cam MacDonald disrupted a defensive zone breakout that allowed Garrett Pinoniemi to score on Mucitelli for his third of the season and second in three games. Forward Austin Heidemann brought Sioux Falls back within one with 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
An unfortunate loose puck found its way to slot and allowed Brock Bremer to re-extend the lead two goals halfway through the third period. The Herd finished the contest without a power play opportunity but stopped all three man-advantage opportunities for the Stars.
Sioux Falls will drop to 11-15-3 on the season with the loss.
The Stampede will matchup again with the Stars tomorrow night at the Ice Box to finish the weekend series. Puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Fans can catch the game streaming live at HockeyTV.com or listen live on KELO Radio 107.9 FM, 1320 AM or Kelo.com.