If Friday's game between the Sioux City Musketeers and the Sioux Falls is any indication, the first-round Clark Cup playoff series between the two rivals should be a tight best of three series.
While Sioux City was able to slow down one of the top-scoring teams in the league, the Stampede basically did what they have been doing all season in Friday's win - score first and win at home.
That's the challenge for the Musketeers, who have to find a way to not only slow down the Stampede's offense for two to three games but also win at least twice at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center and try to keep the Stampede from scoring first.
The series between the two teams, who are separated by only 85 miles, starts Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. The second game is Wednesday and if a third game is needed, it's on Thursday, all with start times of 7:05 p.m.
The Stampede have scored 234 goals this season, the most in the Western Conference and the third-most in the USHL this season. The Musketeers were able to hold Sioux Falls to only two goals in Friday's 2-1 loss.
Sioux Falls did its damage early, though. All of the Stampede's scoring was done early. Cade Borchardt scored the first goal of the game nine minutes in and Sam Stevens added the second goal two minutes before the end of the first period.
The Stampede are one of the toughest teams in the league to beat when they score first. They are 23-4-0-1 when scoring first for an .839 winning percentage, the third-highest winning percentage in the league when scoring first.
Sioux Falls has also been one of the best teams when defending home ice. The Stampede are 23-5-1-2, the second-most home wins in the league. Sioux Falls did lose to Youngstown 3-0 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center on April 6 and suffered three more home losses in March.
Sioux City is 15-12-3-1 on the road and the Musketeers have struggled against Sioux Falls this season, winning only once against the Stampede this season. Sioux City's lone win was the second game between the two of the season when Sioux City won 4-3. The two goals the Musketeers allowed to the Stampede on Friday were the fewest Sioux City has allowed to Sioux Falls all season.
The Musketeers were on a hot streak right before the playoffs started. In order to clinch a playoff berth, Sioux City won eight of 10 games to hold off Omaha. But Sioux City suffered a setback this past weekend with a 2-1 loss to Sioux Falls and a 6-1 loss to Tri-City, the Anderson Cup champions.
Sioux City's Bobby Brink is fourth in the league with 65 points and Martin Pospisil is ninth with 63. Brink is second in the league with 35 goals and Pospisil is second with 47 assists.