The Fargo Force were hosts to Sioux City Friday night and then traveled to Sioux City Saturday night in a rare home and home weekend series. The Force hoped to end a four game losing streak and regain their momentum as they entered the final month of the regular season.
On Friday, March 31 The Force got the first goal of the game when Cole Knuble scored his 28th of the season. The lead would last exactly six minutes until Tomi Leppanen tied the game at the 18:07 mark. Sioux City took the lead just two minutes into the second period when Tyler Hotson scored. Owen Mehlenbacher would tie the game for the Force at 10:14 of the second and the teams would head to the locker room tied 2-2. Scoring chances would dwindle in the third period as the shots on goal would be nearly cut in half for each team. Sioux City would take the lead at 8:38 of the final period on a Sam Deckhut goal. That would be all the Musketeers would need to get the victory, extending the Force losing streak to a season-high five games. Fargo had two players named to the 3 Stars of the game in 2nd Star Owen Mehlenbacher and 3rd star Cole Knuble.
Saturday, April 1 the Force hoped that there would be no April’s Fools Jokes regarding getting a victory. The Musketeers scored early in the game as Kaden Shahan scored just 3:09 into the first period. The Force were out shot in that period 11-3 and needed to create some more scoring opportunities. The second period did not produce many more shots on goal for the Force, outshooting Sioux City just 5-3. However, the Force made the most of those shots scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead over the Musketeers. Cole Knuble scored first at 4:42 and then Owen Mehlenbacher gave them the lead at 10:29 on a power play goal. The Force continued to limit Sioux City’s shots on goal in the third period, only allowing three shots to reach goalie Anton Castro. Fargo would add to their lead at the 10:51 mark of the period on a Verner Miettinen power play goal. Fargo would end the game’s scoring when Kyle Smolen added an empty net goal with 37 seconds remaining. Fargo’s 5 game losing streak was now a thing of the past.
The Fargo Force remain at the top of the USHL and the Western Conference with an overall record of 37-13-2-4 (80 points) and lead Waterloo (35-20-1-0, 71 points) by 9 points in the Western Conference. Fargo is four points ahead of the top team in the East, Chicago Steel (36-16-3-1, 76 points) and seven points of the East’s second place team, Youngstown Phantoms (34-17-4-1, 71 points).
The Force have six games remaining in the regular season and travel to central Iowa with games at Des Moines and Waterloo. The magic number for the Force is just 4, any combination of wins and overtime losses to get those four points will clinch the Western Conference for the Force. Fargo will either need to get 8 points to clinch the top record in the league or will need Chicago to lose a couple of games down the stretch to ensure the best overall record in the league. The Force will return to Scheels Arena on April 14th and 15th when they host a two game series versus the Lincoln Stars.