The league leading Fargo Force went on the road again for a much anticipated matchup with second place Lincoln, at the Ice Box with a chance to increase their lead in the conference standings. This would be the third and fourth matchups against the Stars this season, with each team getting a win in the previous two games. Unfortunately for the Force that plan would not come to fruition.
On Friday January 6th, the Force would battle for the majority of the first period to a scoreless tie, but that ended with a Michael Mesic goal at the 14:40 mark. The first period momentum shifted to the Stars after that goal and they added two more goals that period, one by Tanner Ludtke and the other by Keaton Peters. The second period was another evenly played period until late in the period when Doug Grimes extended the lead to 4-0. Fargo tried to get back into the game in the third when they pulled Goalie Anton Castro for the extra attacker, however, that plan didn’t work as the Stars capitalized with an empty net goal by Brennan Ali to end the scoring for the evening. Cameron Whitehead earned the shutout in net for Lincoln, stopping all 32 Fargo shots. The Force were unable to capitalize on the power play, going 0/6, while Lincoln was 2/4 on the power play that evening.
Saturday’s game was much closer with far less penalties, but still not the result the Force were looking for that evening. Lincoln once again got the scoring started, this time by Tanner Ludtke At 7:12 of the first period. Jakob Stender would tie things up on his 4th goal of the season. The only goal in the second period belonged to Lincoln as they retook the lead on a Antonio Fernandez goal at 5:50 in the second period. The Force would tie things up at 7:16 in the third period on Bros Skalos’ third goal of the season. The force were unable to take the lead and fell behind again after Doug Grimes scored with about seven minutes left in the game. The Force pulled goalie Anton Castro with 1:50 remaining and also went on the power play four seconds later on a slashing call against the Stars. The Force could not get one past Cameron Whitehead to send the game to overtime and returned to Fargo having dropped back-to-back games against Lincoln.
The Force remain in first place in the Western Conference by 4 points over second place Lincoln after this weekend’s games. The Force are now 19-7-0-3 (41 points) which is the best record in the Western Conference and just a point behind Chicago for the best record in the league. The Force return to the ice on January 13th with a road trip versus the Sioux Falls Stampede (12-14-2-2 28 points) and then head south to face the Sioux City Musketeers (13-11-2-3 31 points). The Force will return to Scheels Arena on January 20th.