SIOUX FALLS, SD -- The Sioux Falls Stampede used two goals from C.J. Franklin along with three points each from Zeb Knutson and Griffen Molino to continue their successful five-game homestand as they overwhelmed the Indiana Ice 5-4 at the Arena Friday night.

Knutson and Molino had a goal and two assists apiece while Keith Burchett also contributed  a score for the Herd (12-5-2), who are 3-0-1 at the Arena in their last four games.

“We’ve been doing pretty good lately,” said Knutson.  “It’s something we need to establish here.”

Indiana grabbed the first lead of the game 5:28 into the first after a goal by Ice leading scorer Scott Conway. The one goal deficit wouldn’t last for long, though, as two goals within 1:55 of each other put the Herd on top 2-1 going into the locker room. Franklin took credit for the first score during a power play with 4:30 to after a pass from Knutson found the winger in front of the net, allowing Franklin to hit the puck into the bucket. Less than two minutes later Burchett scored from the slot when he intercepted a clearing attempt from Indiana goaltender Jason Pawloski and beat him stick side, providing the Herd a boost of momentum heading into the first intermission.

“One of our players made a mistake on a goal and he came out on his next shift, made a great play and scored,” said head coach Cary Eades. “In the game of hockey you’re going to make some mistakes, especially when you’re playing against a team with their speed.”

The Ice killed any roll the Herd were on only 55 seconds after the teams hit the ice in the second, evening the score on a controversial goal by winger Denis Smirnov.  No signal was made initially and the net appeared to be dislodged, but after a discussion by the referees the call stood.  Nonetheless, the relentless Stampede regained their one-goal advantage close to three minutes when Knutson and Franklin hooked up for another beauty of a score. Knutson sped down the right side, whirled around a defender with a smooth 360 and backhanded a pass to Franklin, who then wristed the puck past Pawloski for his seventh goal of the season.

“I was trying to read what the defenseman was going to do,” said Knutson. “I decided to turn around, whip it over there and hope it got to him (Franklin).”

Knutson followed up his highlight reel play with a goal of his own at the 1:06 mark of the third period, blasting in a shot off a great pass from Molino. Molino’s score came 7:43 later and sealed the victory for the Herd, though the Ice would make it close with two straight goals to bring it to 5-4. The last score came with 6.7 seconds left and their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker, but the Herd would hold on for their fourth home win of the season.

“All in all, not a perfect 60 minutes but enough to win the hockey game,” said Eades.

The Stampede close out their five-game homestand Saturday night when they entertain the Fargo Force at 7:05 PM.

Courtesy:  Sioux Falls Stampede