SIOUX FALLS, SD -- The Sioux Falls Stampede bounced back from a disappointing loss at Tri-City with a 24-save shutout from netminder Art Brey Sunday evening as they held off the Fargo Force 1-0 at the Arena in front of 4,122 fans.

Keith Burchett provided the offense with the lone goal for the Herd (19-7-2), who are now within six points of the conference-leading Omaha Lancers. The win moved the Stampede back into third place in the Western Conference with 40 points.

“We didn’t come ready to play (last night),” said Brey, who spent last season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints before arriving in Sioux Falls.  “We weren’t happy with our performance.”

Brey’s second shutout of the season came after the Herd fell 3-1 to the Storm Saturday in Kearney, Neb., their first game back following the Christmas break

“Art Brey was outstanding in goal,” said head coach Cary Eades.  “It was a real goaltenders duel, and we needed the two points.”

Sioux Falls waited until the 14:07 mark of the opening period to take the game’s first lead, grabbing the momentum when Burchett found a rebound on the left side and launched the puck past Fargo goalie Cam Johnson.   Both clubs came up empty on the power play in the physical first period with each team failing in two tries.

The 1-0 score held through a chippy first period that saw multiple close Fargo scoring chances and two unsuccessful Herd man advantages.  Nonetheless, Brey pushed away all ten Fargo shots thrown at him in the period and helped the Stampede keep their paper-thin lead over the Force.

“Fargo’s got a great big defense that likes to bang around, and we play physical as well,” said Eades.  “It was a good hard-hitting but clean hockey game.”

A power play from a Daniel Fritz cross-checking penalty at 8:10 in the third period gave Fargo a prime chance to tie the affair but was stone-walled by the stalwart Herd penalty kill, who squashed all five man advantages Fargo had in the game. Brey and the Herd defense withstood Force rush after Force rush in the final twenty minutes, allowing the Herd to stay on top for their ninth home win of the year.

“I have to credit the guys in front of me,” said Brey.  “They battled, they blocked shots and they made my job easy.”

The Stampede won’t have to wait long to see the Force again as they play in Fargo on Tuesday night at 6:05 PM before returning home this weekend for a pair of games against Tri-City.

Courtesy:  Sioux Falls Stampede

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