WATERLOO — In a game where time and space were at a premium, a defensive communication decided it.

Two Waterloo Black Hawks defenders went with one offensive player, leaving Sioux Falls’ Reid Stefanson open on the back side and his 3-on-3 goal 55 seconds into overtime allowed the Stampede to pull out a 3-2 United States Hockey League win Sunday at Young Arena.

“It was a good, hard-fought game. A hard-fought point,” Waterloo head coach P.K. O’Handley said. “What can you say? When it is three-on-three, it is anybody’s game.”

The game-winner came after Waterloo made the first strong attack of the extra period.

After Sioux Falls gained possession, Kevin Conley was chased by two Waterloo defenders. He slipped the puck through the goal mouth to Stefanson, who waited for Waterloo goalie Jared Moe to make his move, then lifted the puck up and over Moe for the winner.

“It was a breakdown. I’ve got to look at the video, but we just lost coverage,” O’Handley said.

With more than a quarter of the USHL regular season still left, Sioux Falls, Waterloo, Fargo and Omaha are all tied for second behind Tri-City in the West Division with 44 points each.

“Too early to really be looking at that I think,” O’Handley said.

“When it gets down to the roots, we have a really good team and have everything we need to get to No.1 in the lockerroom,” forward Solag Bakich said. “We just have to have confidence in ourselves.”

Waterloo trailed 1-0 after one period, then created better opportunities in the second and took advantage.

Joey Cassetti tied the game 3:27 into the second, then with 11:05 left in the period Garrett Wait pushed home a rebound during a scrum in front of the Sioux Falls net. Jack Drury and Ben Finkelstein assisted on the power-play goal as Drury extended his point streak to 17 consecutive games.

“There wasn’t a lot of time and space out there. When there was, it closed down fast and you had to make a quick decision, play,” Bakich said. “Wish we could’ve made a couple more plays.”

Sioux Falls forced overtime when a rebound bounced to Jaxon Nelson, who lifted it over Moe with 7:36 left in the third.

“It was a good hockey game, well-played on both sides,” O’Handley said. “We had plenty of opportunities. It was just a hard-fought, in-the-mud game.”

Waterloo returns to action Friday when it hosts Tri-City.

Sioux Falls 3, Waterloo 2, OT

SCORE BY PERIODS

Sioux Falls 1 0 1 1 — 3

Waterloo 0 2 0 0 — 2

FIRST PERIOD — 1. Sioux Falls, Marko Reifenberger, (Colin Swoyer, Jaxon Stauber), 5:48. Penalties — Paul DeNaples SF (high sticking), 6:41, Swoyer, SF (high sticking), 11:08, Evan Dougherty, Wat (roughing), 13:52, Artem Ivanyuzhenkov, SF (cross checking), 13:52, Mason Palmer, Wat (major, cross checking, game misconduct), 17:34, Adam Dawe, SF (roughing), 17:34.

SECOND PERIOD — 2. Waterloo, Jay Cassetti (Dougherty, Michael Ferrandino), 3:27, 3. Waterloo, Garrett Wait (Jack Drury, Ben Finkelstein), 7:55, pp. Penalties — Bobby Trivigno, Wat (elbowing), 5:21, Antti Virtanen, SF (roughing), 5:21, Swoyer, SF (cross checking), 6:55, Niko Esposito-Selivanov, Wat (hooking), 13:30, Hank Sorensen, Wat (high sticking), 18:48, Jack St. Ivany, SF (kneeing), 18:56.

THIRD PERIOD — 4. Sioux Falls, Jaxon Nelson (Swoyer, Kevin Conley), 12:34. Penalties — None.

OVERTIME — 5. Sioux Falls, Reid Stefanson (Conley, St. Ivany), :55.

SHOTS ON GOAL

Sioux Falls 11 7 9 1 — 28

Waterloo 10 14 7 0 — 31

Goalies — Sioux Falls, Jaxson Stauber (29 saves). Waterloo, Jared Moe (25 saves). Referee — Cameron Fleming, Erick Krasnichuk. Linesmen — Neil Frederickson, Justin Esterly.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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