SIOUX CITY | Charlie Dovorany took advantage of an opportunity the Sioux City Musketeers wished they would have taken care of in regulation.
Dovorany scored two important points for the Tri-City Storm Friday night. He tallied his first game-winning goal of the season with 28 seconds remaining in overtime, helping his team maintain a tie for first place in the Western Conference following a 3-2 United States Hockey League win at the Tyson Events Center.
“The puck was in the corner,” said Dovorany. “It was a scrum. I saw an opportunity to fly the zone. I got a great pass and I made it happen. It was a hard-fought game and a great win for our boys.”
Tri-City (12-3) posted its third win of the season over Coach Luke Strand’s Musketeers. Dovorany, who assisted on Hugo Blixt’s third-period power-play goal, plays for a squad that has tallied 24 points, same as Fargo (11-5-2), which hung on for a 4-3 win at Des Moines.
Sioux City (4-7-3) played a game unlike the previous two meetings against the Storm. Ryan Leibold’s first goal of the season gave the Musketeers a 1-0 first period lead and Micah Miller snapped a 1-all tie for a squad that took a lead after two periods for the first time this season.
Positives were happening despite the fact that the Musketeers were unable to take advantage of a unique 4-on-3 situation late in the second period. Tri-City, the USHL’s penalty kill leaders (88.4 percent) going into the game, showed its strength while stopping Sioux City’s power play.
However, Sioux City’s penalty kill stopped each of Tri-City’s first four power-play chances, a positive considering the fact that Friday night’s opponent possessed the USHL’s sixth-best power play (21.8 percent) going into the contest. Seven seconds remained on the Storm’s man advantage when Dovorany scored his first power play goal of the season.
“We keep taking strides in a lot of right directions,” said Strand. “The journey here has got to be continued progress. As we make progress individually, we have to make it as a team as well. It’s going to have to be done in key moments.
“I’m proud of the guys’ effort. I have no problem effort-wise. Now, we have to iron out some situations that hurt us in those key moments. Those will be vital in our team’s success.”
Tri-City marked a few team firsts as well. For example, it was the first time Dovorany’s squad trailed after two periods this season.
All of those Sioux City firsts were coming against the USHL’s best goaltender. Fillip Larsson (11-2), a sixth-round NHL Draft selection of the Detroit Red Wings last summer, leads the league with a 1.39 goals-against-average and three shutouts. He’s 3-0 against the Musketeers this season, a ledger that includes a 3-2 shootout victory on Oct. 28.
“We came out with a slow start, but we picked it up,” said Dovorany, who will be a future teammate of Musketeers’ left wing and alternate captain Cole Koepke at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “We came together in the locker room and told each what we needed to do. We came back and took over the game.”
Sioux City will shoot for its first regulation win of the season tonight at Dubuque (6-5-3), a 3-1 winner at Madison Friday. The Musketeers are 1-1 against Eastern Conference opponents.
Turnovers are one situation which the Musketeers will need to avoid as Tri-City’s Jake Crespi took the puck away from defenseman Lucas Bahn to score a breakaway goal that tied the game 1-1 68 seconds into the second period.
“You want to be rewarded for your effort,” said Strand. “We have to find a different way to change the outcome. That’s going to totally stay with the process.
“It’s about playing for the family and playing for each other to the point where that matters more than anything you do, statistically. Individually, it doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s for the betterment of the team. There’s moments where we’re right there and some moments where we still need some growth.”