Herd Stifling Defense Continues Against Bucs

This time it was Lekkas' turn for a shutout

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The Stampede score three goals in the final period and Stefanos Lekkas earned his fourth shutout of the season with 22 saves as the Stampede blanked the Des Moines Buccaneers 3-0 in front of 4,895 at the PREMIER Center Wednesday night. The win was the fourth straight for the Herd overall and the seventh straight on home ice as Sioux Falls improved to 31-20-5 on the year and moved within three points of third place Omaha with four games remaining in the regular season. The Herd have allowed just one goal over their last three games, outscoring opponents 10-1.

The Stampede racked up 27 shots through the first two periods, but Bucs goaltender Ryan Ruck shut down the Stampede offense and kept the Herd off the board while Stefanos Lekkas knocked aside all 14 shots he faced for the Stampede and both teams entered the third period in 0-0 deadlock.

The Stampede were finally able to solve Ruck at 9:59 of the third period when Logan O’Connor tallied his 15th goal of the season to give Sioux Falls a 1-0 advantage. Cooper Marody’s shot from the right circle went off Ruck and then the post, but O’Connor skated in on the left side and was able to control the puck and place it into the back of the net. Less than four minutes later the Herd made it 2-0 when Troy Loggins danced round the Des Moines defense and wristed a shot from the slot right past the glove side of Ruck and into the back of the net for his 14th of the year.

The Bucs tried to rally just moments later with some offensive pressure, but Lekkas and the Stampede defense turned away all eight shots in the period to keep the Bucs off the board. Kieffer Bellows sealed the game for good with an empty net goal with just 45 seconds remaining in the game. The goal was his 30th of the season, putting him in the top five in the USHL in goals scored, just two behind league leading Chris Wilkie of Tri-City. It marks the first time since the 2012-13 season that a Stampede player has scored at least 30 goals, C.J. Franklin finished with 32 that year.

Sioux Falls outshot the Bucs 36-22 on the night and went 0-for-3 on the power play while killing off all three Bucs power plays. The Stampede finished the season series with a 5-1-0 mark against Des Moines, winning the last five games by a combined score of 20-6.

The Herd return to action on Friday night when they host the Tri-City Storm at 7:05 PM.

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