The Fargo Force continued the five game home stand at Scheels Arena with a Wednesday make-up game versus the Sioux Falls Stampede and a weekend series versus the Lincoln Stars. The Force entered the weekend series with a six game point streak and looked to remain the top team in the USHL.
On Wednesday, February 15th, the Force continued their dominance over the Stampede this season with a convincing victory by a final of 4-2. Fargo scored two goals in the first, one each by Cole Knuble and Kyle Smolen, while out shooting the Stampede 15-5 in the period. The two teams would trade goals in the remaining two periods. In the second Tanner Bruender for Sioux Falls and Brasen Boser for Fargo. In the third period Mac Swanson’s goal put the game away, but Sioux Falls continued to play hard and answered with a Isaac Gordon goal to round out the scoring. The games 3 Stars were all standout Fargo players, 1st Star Cole Knuble, 2nd Star Owen Mehlenbacher and 3rd Star Brasen Boser.
Friday, February 17th was the anticipated home matchup vs the Lincoln Stars, who swept Fargo the last time the teams met for a weekend series and had won three out of four games versus the Force this season. After a scoreless first period where Fargo had opportunities to capitalize on loose pucks in front of the net, Lincoln got the scoring started with a goal by Doug Grimes just 63 seconds into the second period. Almost 11 minutes later the Stars would score again and look to be in control after Daniel Sambuco got one past Matej Marinov. As the second period wound down the momentum would shift dramatically as Cole Knuble would get the Force on the scoreboard with just 46 seconds remaining in the period. Fargo would keep the momentum going in the third period when at 3:30 Joe Paloichuk would tie the game with his 7th goal of the season. Just a minute later Owen Melenbacher would give the force the lead on his third goal as a member of the Force and his 14th overall this season. Fargo would hang on to the lead in this one and bring home the victory with a 3-2 score. The Game’s 3 Stars were 1st Star Owen Mehlenbacher, 2nd Star Bret Link, and 3rd Star Joe Palodichuk.
Saturday’s game was an opportunity for the Force to sweep their 5 game home stand and run their point streak to 8 games. Lincoln took an early lead, scoring at the 2:33 mark of the first period on a goal by Tanner Ludtke. Fargo would respond this time on a goal by Jakob Stender at 4:30. Fargo would take the lead at 17:13 when Charlie Russell scored his 13th goal of the season. Lincoln would tie the game in the second period at 6:48 when Cole Crusberg-Roseen beat goalie Matej Marinov. The game looked like it would head to overtime, but JP Turner made a nearly impossible goal and it gave the Force a lead at 17:42 of the third period. The Game’s 3 Stars were 1st Star JP Turner, 2nd Star Matej Marinov, and 3rd Star Charlie Russell.
After a weekend series that had the intensity of a playoff series the Force remain at the top of the USHL and the Western Conference after a 6 point week. The Force have an overall record of 30-8-1-3 (64 points) and will head south as they take on Waterloo (27-14-1-0 55 points) and Des Moines ( 16-18-5-3 40 points) on the road this weekend (February 24th and 25th). The Force will return to Scheels Arena on March 3rd and 4th when they host the Omaha Lancers (13-22-4-2 32 points).