Bellows Wins In Return To Sioux Falls
Struggling Stampede Fall To Team USA 3-1
The scoring woes continued for the Sioux Falls Stampede Friday night as they fell 3-1 to the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 before 6,397 fans at the PREMIER Center. Shane Sellar tallied the only goal of the game for the Herd in the first period. Sioux Falls is now 16-13-2 on the season, but 0-3-1 since the winter break and have tallied just three goals in those four games. Stefanos Lekkas was solid again between the pipes stopping 28 of 30 shots, but the Herd failed to generate many scoring chances in the third period and fell despite a solid overall effort. Despite the loss, Sioux Falls trails Lincoln by just four points for first place in the Western Conference, but are now tied for second with Tri-City.
The Stampede paid tribute to former forward Kieffer Bellows before the game and had the tough task of keeping his line off the board. The Herd played with a lot of intensity early and kept the U.S. off the board. Sioux Falls would register the first goal of the game at 14:47 of the first when Shane Sellar tallied his first career USHL goal. Jack Becker broke in front of the goal and wristed a shot that was stopped by USA goaltender Joseph Woll, but the rebound bounced to Sellar who quickly sent the puck past Woll and into the net to give the Herd a 1-0 lead. Sioux Falls would take that lead into the locker room, but USA drew a penalty late, giving them the advantage heading into the second period. Sioux Falls outshot Team USA 13-8.
The Herd would kill off that penalty, but the U.S. broke through at the 6:25 mark when leading scorer Clayton Keller picked up a puck in the left circle and wristed a shot past the stick side of Stampede goaltender Stefanos Lekkas to tie the game 1-1. It stayed that way until late in the period when the U.S. was able to convert on their fourth power play of the game. With just seconds left in the advantage Trent Frederic sent a pass into the slot for James Sanchez who quickly tapped the puck past Lekkas to give Team USA their first lead of the night at 2-1. The U.S. would take that lead into the locker room, outshooting the Herd 12-8 in the period.
In the third the Herd battled hard to try and tie the game, but the U.S. defense was too strong, limiting the Herd to just three shots in the period and at total of 10 shots in the last 40 minutes of the game. Sioux Falls was looking for the equalizer in the final minutes and pulled Lekkas for an extra attacker, but a turnover gave the puck to Keller who skated into the Herd zone and scored on the empty net to seal a 3-1 victory for Team USA.
Team USA outshot the Herd 11-3 in the final period and 32-23 on the night. USA was 1-for-4 with the advantage while the Herd were 0-for-3.
The Herd will try and get back on track Saturday when they travel to Des Moines to take on the Buccaneers at 7:05 PM. Fans can listen live starting at 6:40 PM on KELO News Talk 1320-AM, 107.9-FM, KELO.COM or on the KELO Radio App. The game will also be available for purchase through FASTHockey.