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Matt Zimmer / Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Published May 02 2013

Gust scores lone goal as Force win playoff game

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –The Sioux Falls Stampede are facing elimination once again.

Fargo’s Dave Gust scored on the Force’s first shot of the game just less than four minutes in, and that proved to be the only score of the game, as the Force took a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-5 Western Confer-ence finals with a 1-0 win over the Stampede on Thursday night at Sioux Falls Arena.

The Stampede will try to extend the series in Game 4 on Sunday. Game 5, if nec-essary, would be Wednes-day, and the good news for Sioux Falls is they’ll both be at home.

Well, that, and the fact that the Stampede have already come back from a 2-1 deficit once in these playoffs. Now they just have to do it again.

It won’t be easy, and the Force, who also overcame a 2-1 deficit last round, aren’t taking anything for grant-ed.

“We still have to win (a total of) three games, and this is a hard rink to play in against a very good hockey club,” said Force coach John Marks. “They didn’t allow us too many opportunities, but we did what we had to do. We could’ve played better, but I’m obviously happy with the win.”

For Sioux Falls, it was more offensive frustration. It’s now scored just 13 goals in eight playoff games.

Stampede coach Cary Eades credited the Force’s defensive play, but sug-gested his team needs to be better on offense to survive this series.

“I thought Fargo played an outstanding defensive game. From the nets on out, they didn’t give us any second chances,” Eades said. “But we have to be sharper, too. Our passing execution just wasn’t at the standard it needs to be. We just didn’t make enough plays to the net. The effort was there. The execution wasn’t.”

Ryan Siiro nearly got the Stampede on the score-board midway through the second when he zipped a wrister past Force goalie Cameron Johnson, but it dinged off the inside of the post and came back out. Fans thought it should’ve been ruled a goal, but Eades and Siiro both said the refs made the right call.

After few chances came up empty in the third, the Stampede went with the extra attacker with 1:33 to go in the game, but were unable to get much going, and that was a theme all night.

Though the Stampede outshot their opponents 31-18, Johnson wasn’t forced to make too many highlight saves. Eades attributed that to Johnson’s ability to limit rebounds and the Force’s success in clearing in front of the net.

“That’s what we have to do if we’re going to beat them,” said Marks, adding that his team had fresher legs after having played their fifth game in seven days in Game 2. “They go to the net hard, but you can’t give them second chances or you’re going to get beat.”

Charlie Lindgren made 17 saves for the Stampede in another strong, but losing effort. Sioux Falls will have to hope he can continue his stellar play, but more important, find a way to break through on offense. The Stampede hope to recapture the attitude and discipline that helped them come back to knock off Lincoln last round.

“We have to, it worked for us last series,” said Siiro. “It’s an opportunity, but our backs are definitely against the wall. Our season could be over if we don’t play well.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Gust (Fleming, Guertler) 3:47.

SECOND PERIOD: No scoring.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: F, Johnson 31. SF, Lindgren 17.