Sioux Falls Stampede


The Sioux Falls Stampede opened the USHL Clark Cup Finals with a 3-2 come from behind victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks Saturday night.

After a scoreless first period, Muskegon cashed in on the power play early in the second. Matej Paulovic pounced on a rebound and put it past Stampede goaltender Stefanos Lekkas for a 1-0 lead at 4:12.

The third period belonged to Sioux Falls. Dakota Joshua went top shelf for the equalizer at 5:58. Captain Ryan Schwalbe put the Herd in front less than five minutes later at 2-1.

Muskegon answered just 38 seconds later when Mark Pataccio tied the game at 2-2, but the Stampede didn't flinch.

In a key sequence in the game, the Lumberjacks were about to go on the power play after Troy Loggins was called for a cross checking minor at 6:48, but Muskegon's Christian Wolanin took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the whistle that left the teams at even strength. Sioux Falls took advantage and grabbed the lead for good with 5:52 left in the game when J.M. Piotrowski knocked in a rebound past Lumberjack's goalie Eric Schierhorn to make it 3-2.

Muskegon pulled Schierhorn late, and Joshua missed on an empty net chance that would have iced the game for the Stampede with 22 seconds left. But he wisely chased down the rebound and held the puck against the boards to run time off the clock and preserve the Herd's victory and a 1-0 lead in the best of five championship series.

Game 2 of the Clark Cup Finals is Sunday night at 6:15 PM in Muskegon.

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