SIOUX FALLS, SD -- A huge matchup between heated conference rivals lived up to its billing Friday night as the Sioux City Musketeers squeaked out a tight 2-1 win over the Sioux Falls Stampede in front of 4,827 fans, the largest Arena crowd in Stampede history.

Christian Horn had the lone goal for the Herd (34-17-6) while goaltender Art Brey allowed two goals on 23 shots from the Musketeers (37-17-3), who move ahead of the Herd by three points for third place in the Western Conference.

“We played well enough to win, but not great enough not to lose,” said head coach Cary Eades.  “We wanted that one.  We needed it and we didn’t get it.”

Both teams ended up scoreless after an intense first period that witnessed several close chances for both clubs, with the Herd dominating shots on goal by a mark of 15-5. Sioux Falls whiffed on the lone full power play chance they had, though they were awarded a man advantage on a cross-checking call with only 2.6 seconds sitting on the clock.

The contest remained at a tense 0-0 standoff until Horn finally found the net at 9:01 of the second period.  Horn’s 22nd goal of the season came when worked his way around a Sioux City and wristed the prize into the basket from left circle, breaking the ice and giving the Herd a 1-0 lead over the Musketeers.

That one-goal lead was snapped almost six minutes later on a freak goal that deflected off a Musketeer player and somehow floated past Brey, knotting things back up at 1-1 with 5:01 left in the game.

“It was a playoff atmosphere game,” said Eades.  “The refs let us play. We just didn’t finish off enough chances and we had a couple breakdowns defensively that led to their goals.”

Sioux City took their turn breaking ties at the 8:09 mark of the final period, grabbing the 2-1 lead on a goal by winger Joel L’Esperance.  The Musketeer forward flew down the right wing and sunk a shot from the right circle on a give-and-go play, putting his team on top after finding themselves tied or down for most of the game.  L’Esperance’s goal would end up being the game-winner, as the Musketeers and their netminder Kyle Hayton held on the rest of the way to snap the Herd’s six-game winning streak at home.

Things won’t get any easier for the Herd Saturday night, as they head to Waterloo to face the first-place BlackHawks.

“We’ve got a heck of a tough game tomorrow in a big rink,” said Eades.  “We better check a lot better and a do a lot of little things better than we did tonight.”

Game time Saturday night is 7:05 PM.


Ryan Schwalbe, Sioux Falls Stampoede and Kyle Hayton, Sioux City Musketeers, 03-28-2014
Sioux Falls Stampede

Courtesy:  Sioux Falls Stampede

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