SIOUX CITY | Sampo Ranta sensed plenty of confidence from the Sioux City Musketeers Friday night.
Ranta scored a first-period goal that gave the team their first lead at the end of the opening period this season. He then stuffed in a shootout goal past the reach of goaltender Dryden McKay that gave the Musketeers a 2-1 United States Hockey League win over the Madison Capitols at the Tyson Events Center.
“We had confidence with that (first period) goal,” said Ranta. “I think we had a good breakout. The defensemen stood out pretty well today. Our line rushes worked. We were really happy with how we played.”
Ranta equaled his goal output (6) from all of last season. Winning goaltender Matt Jurusik (4-4-2) improved his season shootout record to 2-1 and the defense in front of him didn’t allow Madison’s leading scorer, Alexander Broetzman (6 goals, 7 assists), to take a shot.
Jurusik had 18 saves in regulation and Madison didn’t take a shot in overtime. Broetzman, who entered the game riding a five-game scoring streak, took the last of the three shots in the shootout against Jurusik.
“We’re getting on the right track and we’re starting to finish games out,” said Jurusik, who entered the game sixth in the USHL with a 2.41 goals-against average. “We’d like to do it in regulation one of these times. But if we can close it out in overtime or a shootout, there’s nothing wrong with that.
“We had really good lockdown game tonight. We gave up under 20 shots. Whenever you’re doing that, your defense is really clicking. Our defense played a solid game in front of me. It was really easy out there.”
Parker Ford and Mathieu De St. Phalle assisted on the Ranta goal that enabled the Musketeers to score the game’s first goal for only the second time this season. The first came in a season-opening 3-2 overtime win at Fargo on Oct. 7 when Hayden Rowan scored in the second period.
Momentum was on Sioux City’s side and it could have easily been a 2-0 lead. Eighteen seconds after Ranta’s goal, Madison’s Cade Borchardt was penalized for slashing and with 31 seconds left on the power play, Rowan saw his man-advantage goal waved off by officials when the Musketeers’ Dylan Mills interfered with McKay.
Winning coach Luke Strand saw confidence throughout the night from his squad.
“I thought our group showed a family atmosphere the whole time,” he said. “We wanted to make this a statement that we have more in the tank than what has been showing. Scoring the first goal, I thought we had a lot into it. We finally got a result for some work a little bit.
“The second one getting called off, would have been exciting to not get called off because at that point, our guys were out there skating excited. But that’s part of hockey. I like that we stuck together. We had a couple of lapses, but all in all, we held it together.”
Strand hopes that what the Musketeers accomplished is a tune-up which will give his team a win over Fargo tonight. Ranta scored the overtime goal in the season-opener, but the Force avenged that loss with a 4-2 win last Saturday.
“We have to keep the confidence,” said Ranta. “Fargo is going to be a tough team. They play hard. We have to play hard too. It’s going to be a war tomorrow. We have to prepare for that and take all the positive things from this game and transfer it into tomorrow’s game.”