Fargo Force Week 25 Recap

Fargo Force Logo
Fargo Force Logo

The Fargo Force returned to Scheels Arena for what many were anticipating as a possible playoff preview between the top two teams in the Western Conference. The Force looked to continue their now 15-game point streak and to try and all but lock up the top seed in the Western Conference and home ice in the USHL Playoffs.. 

On Thursday, March 16 the first of the three games seemed as though it would keep Fargo’s hot streak going as Bret Link got the first goal of the evening at the 6:01 mark and an early lead for the home squad. The game would stay that way until the 11:37 mark of the second period when Miko Matikka would tie the game for Waterloo. Fargo wouldn’t get a goal to retake the lead in the second period despite getting 20 shots on goal. The game would remain a tight defensive battle in the third period until with just 1:11 remaining Bret Link would light the lamp again. The crowd at Scheels Arena erupted and felt like a victory was in hand with such little time remaining. Just as Waterloo was pulling goaltender Emmett Croteau, a centering pass from the corner went off a Force defenseman and off the skate of Force goalie Matej Marinov into the net just nine seconds later to tie the game and force overtime. Neither team was able to capitalize in the extra period and the game headed to a shootout. Waterloo would convert on two of three penalty shots to take the hard earned extra point in the standings. Bret Link was named the game’s 2nd Star and Jacob Napier was the 3rd Star for the Force.

Friday, March 17 the Force looked to the luck of the Irish to get them back in the win column. The first period really had nothing to do with luck as the Force scored three times in the first period to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the intermission. Fargo got goals from Bret Link, Anthony Menghini, and Verner Miettinen. The second period continued the Force’s good fortune as a bouncing puck got past goalie Jack Spicer for a commanding 4-0 Force lead at the 16:20 mark. Waterloo wouldn’t go away as they got two goals back in the last two minutes of the period on goals by James Hong and Connor Brown. The Force maintained that 4-2 lead well into the third period, when a bouncing puck of their own got the Black Hawks to within one goal with just 1:57 left  in the game when Gavin O’Connell scored. The Force were able to hold on this evening and get the victory 4-3. The Game’s 3 stars included 1st Star Bret Link, 2nd Star Mac Swanson and 3rd Star Camden Shasby of the Force.

Saturday, March 18 was the rubber match as both teams had gotten a win during the three game series. The final game of the series would not be as close as the previous two as Waterloo scored very early and then just continued to take advantage of mistakes made by the Force. Three first period goals from Waterloo preceded the lone Force goal of the evening, which was scored by Cole Knuble. The goal was significant as it was the annual Teddy Bear Toss night, where fans toss stuffed animals onto the ice after the Force’s first goal. All of the items are collected and donated to charity. The Force would substitute out goalie Matej Martinov at intermission trailing 4-1 and Anton Castro would shut the Black Hawks out in the second period. However, the third period was much like the first as Waterloo would score three more goals in the final period. The final score of 7-1 was the largest margin of defeat for the Force this season and gave Waterloo a series victory and an overall record versus Fargo of 4-2-0 this season. 

The Fargo Force  remain at the top of the USHL and the Western Conference with an overall record of 36-9-2-4 (78 points) and lead Waterloo (33-17-1-0 67 points) by 11 points in the Western Conference. Despite losing two of three games this weekend, the Force did manage to get three out of a maximum six points this weekend to continue a double digit point lead in the standings over Waterloo.

The Force heads to Nebraska this week to take on the Tri-City Storm in three game series and another possible playoff preview March 23rd, 24th and 25th. The following week the Force will have a home and home series with the Sioux City Musketeers on March 31st at Scheels Arena and April 1st in Sioux City at the Tyson Events Center.