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Stampede Blank Stars In Game 5, Advance To Conference Finals

Sioux Falls Stampede vs Lincoln Stars, USHL Western Conference Semifinals, 04-23-2013
Steve Knutson/ESPN 99.1

SIOUX FALLS, SD — An airtight, white knuckle Western Conference semi-finals ended in perfect fashion as a monumental shutout performance by Charlie Lindgren lifted the Sioux Falls Stampede past the Lincoln Stars in a 2-0, Game 5 win, clinching the series for the Herd.

Lindgren didn’t allow a single goal on a whopping 34 shots from Lincoln, with his team getting the first goal of the game early into the final period from Ryan Siiro.

“The guys played really well tonight.  It was your prototypical playoff game right there,” said Lindgren.  “It was a blast.”

The Stampede will now wait for the result of the Fargo/Waterloo series before knowing who they will face on the road this Friday.  Due to the circus in town this week the Herd will spend the first two games of the next series on the road before coming back to the Arena for three games, if necessary.

“Charlie’s our man, and he proved tonight that he’s one of the elite goaltenders in the league,” said head coach Cary Eades, who has taken his team to the Western Conference Finals in his first season as Stampede head coach.

Both teams came up scoreless in an opening twenty minutes that saw the Herd throw 15 shots at Lincoln netminder Michael Bitzer.  The lone power play of the period went to the Herd, who couldn’t get it in despite several prime chances.

A fantastic mid-air snag by Lindgren kept the game scoreless and ignited a crowd who was eager to see their team clinch the series.  The future St. Cloud State Husky had a brilliant period, keeping the Stars off the board while stopping 19 shots.

“He (Lindgren) played out of his mind tonight,” said Siiro, captain of the Stampede.  “We just kept going and going.”

Zeb Knutson had a wide-open net on a 2-on-1 with less than seven minutes left, but couldn’t catch the pass from the left side.  The Herd killed off the only penalty the Stars received in the second, leaving both teams empty in one attempt through the first 40 minutes.

“We had the play in the first period and they took it to us in the second,” said Eades.  “It was two heavyweights going toe-to-toe.  We staggered them early and they staggered us back.”

Anxieties and nerves of Herd fans were broken at 1:19 of the third period as Siiro sailed a wrist shot from the left circle, the forward’s first goal of the series giving his team a 1-0 lead.

“I shot it and it got blocked,” said Siiro.  “I just kind of threw it on net after that and it happened to go top shelf.”

Siiro’s tally would hold, as the Herd’s impermeable penalty kill stunted three different Star power plays in the last period.

“As a goalie seeing your guys go all out like that is unbelievable,” said Lindgren.  “I feed off that, too.  The penalty kill was really good tonight.”

The game and series was clinched with 41 seconds left when Thomas Forgione hit the empty net through a hapless Lincoln defender, sealing the 2-0 Herd Game 5 victory.

Sioux Falls will now wait to return to their fans until next Thursday for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

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Courtesy:  Sioux Falls Stampede

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