The Sioux Falls Stampede let a late lead slip away, but still earned a point in the final regular season game of the year, falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Fargo Force Sunday night in Fargo. Matt Gould and Nolan Walker scored goals to build a 2-1 lead, but the Force scored on the power play with 45 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game and eventually won in a shootout.
The Herd finished the regular season with a 32-19-9 record and earned at least a point in eight of their ten meetings (7-2-1) against the Force this season, including a 4-0-1 mark in Fargo. The Stampede will have a quick turnaround as they host Lincoln on Tuesday to open the Clark Cup Playoffs.
For a team that had not scored a goal in over seven periods heading into the game Sunday, getting a goal felt pretty good. Matt Gould got the Herd on the board at 11:32 when he drove down the right wing boards and backhanded a shot right through the five-hole of Fargo goaltender Ryan Bischel for a 1-0 lead. The Force would respond five minutes later when A.J. Drobot deflected in a shot from Spencer Meier and into the net to tie the game 1-1. Sioux Falls outshot Fargo 12-11 in the period.
The Stampede kept up the intensity and pressure into the second period and regained the lead at 12:04 when Nolan Walker tallied his 21st goal of the season. Walker picked up the puck in his own zone and raced down the left-wing boards and into the offensive zone before cutting in front of the net and lifting the puck over the glove of Bischel and under the crossbar for a 2-1 advantage. Sioux Falls outshot Fargo 12-8 in the period and took the one-goal lead into the intermission.
The Stampede held tight for most of the third period, but Fargo was awarded a power play with just over a minute remaining. They pulled their goaltender and it paid off when Spencer Meier blasted a shot from the high slot that went through traffic and into the upper left-hand corner of the net to tie the game at two and force overtime.
The Stampede had a power play of their own entering the extra session, but couldn’t connect and the game remained tied. Sioux Falls nearly won it in the final seconds overtime when Kevin Conley broke in on a breakaway, but his backhand shot was stopped by the left pad of Bischel and forced a shootout. Ben Meyers scored in the first round of the shootout for Fargo and that would be all they would need as they took the shootout in three rounds and the game by a final of 3-2.
Sioux Falls outshot Fargo 5-3 in overtime and 41-29 in the game, but went 0-for-6 on the power play while the Force were 1-for-6.
The Stampede open their best-of-three first round playoff series against Lincoln on Tuesday at the PREMIER Center. Game 2 is slated for Wednesday night and, if necessary, Game 3 will be Thursday night, all at the PREMIER Center. Tickets for Games 1 and 2 are on sale now through the PREMIER Center or any Ticketmaster outlet. Stampede season ticket holders can pick up their tickets at the Stampede office on Monday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Courtesy: Sioux Falls Stampede
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