SIOUX FALLS, SD—The Musketeers made the quick trip up to Sioux Falls on Friday night for a critical game against the Stampede. The Musketeers came into this game tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Lincoln Stars, and they did not make things any easier for themselves with a 7-2 loss to the Stampede.
The 1st period started out fast and mostly in the Musketeers favor. For much of the period, Sioux City controlled the play and never really allowed the Stampede to get any sustained pressure. Sioux City had a few good chances but couldn’t manage to get anything by Mikhail Berdin. The Stampede caught a break halfway through the period when the puck bounced over Nate Knoepke’s stick at the blueline. The result would be a two on one break for Sioux Falls, and they buried it to take a 1-0 lead. The Stampede would begin to build on their momentum and managed to go up 2-0 just 5 minutes later on a strange play. Musketeer goaltender Matt Jurusik picked up the puck behind the net and then sent a no-look backhand pass towards one of the Musketeer defenders. The pass was off the mark and bounced off the defenders skate right to the front of the net where Reid Stafanson had a wide open net, and he did not miss.
Things would not get much better for the Musketeers the rest of the period. Matyas Svoboda took a boarding penalty with two minutes to play in the period giving Sioux Falls’ dangerous powerplay a chance. Sioux City did a good job killing off most of the penalty, but AJ Villella would fire a puck from the blueline past Jurusik with just 16 seconds left in the period to give the Stampede a 3-0 lead.
Sioux City did not fare much better in the 2nd period. After controlling much of the play in the first and putting plenty pressure on the Stampede Sioux City just couldn’t get anything going in the 2nd period. They struggled to complete passes, clear the zone and put the puck on net. Sioux City did manage to get on the board in the period. Micah Miller made a good initial shot on net that Berdin was not able to corral. Miller made his way around the net and back out front where the bouncing puck landed right on his stick, and he put it past Berdin to bring the Musketeers within two. Sioux Falls managed to regain their lead on a point shot by Jack St. Ivany that looked like it was tipped on its way past Jurusik. St. Ivany would wind up getting credit for the goal, and the Stampede would take a 4-1 lead. Sioux City could not get anything by Berdin the rest of the period and would head back to the locker room still trailing by three.
The Musketeers would continue to struggle in the 3rd period. Sioux Falls would take a 5-1 lead after a harmless looking shot by Artem Ivanyuzhenkov somehow made its way past Jurusik. The Musketeers continued to look flat for much of the period but gained some life towards the end. Berdin is known to play the puck more than most goaltenders, and he got himself in trouble on Sioux City’s second goal. After collecting the puck behind the net, Cole Kopeke put the pressure on Berdin to make a play. Berdin tried to skate it out from behind his net but coughed it up right to a waiting Bauer Neudecker who buried it to give the Musketeers their second goal of the game. Sioux Falls would get it back just seconds later after a shot Colin Swoyer barely snuck through Jurusiks pads to give the Stampede a 6-2 lead with just over 5 minutes to play. Sioux Falls would continue to pile on and added a seventh goal just two minutes later. Sioux City could not add any more goals of their own and left the Denny Sanford Premier Center with a very disappointing 7-2 loss on Friday night.
With the loss, the Musketeers road to the postseason becomes even harder. If the Lincoln Stars come out on top in their game against the Dubuque Fighting Saints, they will take over sole possession of 6th place with a two-point advantage and a game in hand on the Musketeers. Sioux City now has eight days off to think about this loss before they play this very same Stampede team at the Tyson Events Center on Saturday, March 17th. For tickets call the Musketeer office at (712)252-2116 or visit Tysoncenter.com.