SIOUX CITY | Five out of six points isn’t what the Sioux City Musketeers wanted from the last three days of work.
A victory over the Sioux Falls Stampede would have pulled the surging Musketeers within four points of their fifth-place Western Conference rival. It didn’t happen, as Paul DeNaples scored with 2:04 left in overtime and the Stampede escaped with a 2-1 United States Hockey League victory at the Tyson Events Center.
Sioux Falls (18-11-6) had lost the three previous games of the series to Sioux City (15-13-6). DeNaples has confidence on his side after scoring his first goal of the season, fueled off assists from Nolan Walker and Kirill Panyukov, teammates who have 30 and 18 points, respectively.
“I saw the lane open and I saw Walker in the corner, one of our most skilled forwards,” said DeNaples. “We kind of made a little eye contact. He threw it to me and I kind of walked in. The pass wasn’t that high so I just ripped it. This is a great two points. It’s always a battle when we come down here to play at Sioux City or if we play them at the Denny (Sanford Premier Center).”
Starting for the first time in two weeks, goaltender Ben Kraws (1-3-2) deserved a better fate, recording 35 saves for Coach Luke Strand’s squad, which was outshot 37-23, but had several near misses on goal chances. The first came about a minute and a half into the game when Dylan Mills missed a rebound shot which a surprised Mikhail Berdin somehow saved.
The Musketeers’ best shot for a win came when an apparent goal from Hayden Rowan was reviewed and taken away with 9:49 left in regulation and the game tied at 1-all. Mills and Randy Hernandez weaved passes to set up the chance for Rowan, who hasn’t scored in his last 14 games.
“We got a point and we’re in business right now to collect points, but that’s a very disappointed room that we didn’t get a second point,” said Strand. “We didn’t necessarily earn a second one either. I thought we left some of the things we had been doing really well and those things didn’t show up tonight. That was part of it.
“Part two, Sioux Falls is a hungry and talented team. And they did a nice job. They skated. We have a disappointed group right now which is good. They could all be saying five out of six points on the weekend, we’re going to pat ourselves on the back. But they wanted the sixth. They want to get back at it.”
Sioux Falls entered the game with the USHL’s top power play, which converted 24.5 percent of its opportunities. Adam Dawe recorded his sixth man-advantage goal of the season, burying a second-period shot past Kraws.
Sioux Falls had scored the first goal in each of the four games in the season series between the Western Conference rivals. Sioux City followed the template set in the previous three games by scoring the tying goal, this time with 8:51 left in the second, as Cole Koepke tallied his team-high 14th goal assisted by Matyas Svoboda, who has scored in each of his five games since arriving to the Musketeers Jan. 17.
Musketeers scoring leader Sampo Ranta (11 goals, 9 assists) was able to play. Ranta had provided a scare the night before, suffering facial lacerations when he was knocked to the boards with eight seconds remaining in the third period of the 2-1 win over Fargo.
“Sampo desperately wanted to play tonight,” said Strand. “Moving forward, I think we’re going to find another version of Sampo who went through something which has adversity for him. He went through (concussion) protocol. That’s good or he wouldn’t have played for sure.”
The Musketeers will play Tuesday at Lincoln. Green Bay will then visit the Tyson Events Center for games on Friday and Saturday.