The Fargo Force traveled to Iowa to take on Des Moines and Waterloo in hopes they could wrap up the top seed in the USHL’s Western Conference Playoffs. The Force needed four points to wrap up that top seed, but it wouldn’t come easy as they had their last regular season matchup on Saturday versus a Black Hawk team that still has a chance to wrestle the top seed away from Fargo.
On Friday, April 7 the Force looked to start a new winning streak after their Saturday win last weekend. Fargo got the scoring started at the 11:54 mark of the first period when Mac Swanson scored his 11th goal of the season. The score would remain the same until 1:11 of the second period when Jacob Napier would put the Force ahead 2-0. Fargo would add two more goals in the first half of the third period, one each for Kyle Smolen and Girts Silalns, to take a commanding 4-0 lead. Des Moines would get one back at 11:47 of the third when Christian Kocsis scored to make it 4-1, however, that was as close as they would get and Fargo inched two points closer to that top seed. The Game's 3 Stars were all members of the Force, 1st Star Kyle Smolen, 2nd Star Anton Castro, and 3rd star Jacob Napier.
Saturday, April 8 the Force traveled to Waterloo for their last matchup with the second place Black Hawks, the team that helped start them on their recent 5 game losing streak. The game was a very tightly contested game between the two Clark Cup hopefuls. Waterloo scored first at the 15:31 mark of the opening period when Griffin Erdman got one past Force goalie Matej Marinov. That would be the only goal of the game well into the third period when with just 1:05 remaining in the game Cole Knuble became only the fifth member of the Fargo Force to score 30 goals in a season. The game would head to overtime and it looked like once again the two teams would head to a shootout to determine a winner. The Black Hawks had other plans as Garrett Schifsky scored with just 5 seconds remaining. Fargo’s Cole Knuble was named the Game’s 2nd Star. Waterloo has now gone 5-2 versus the Force this season, but of those victories, four of them have come in overtime or in a shootout.
The Fargo Force remain at the top of the USHL and the Western Conference with an overall record of 38-13-3-4 (83 points) and lead Waterloo (37-20-1-0 75 points) by eight points in the Western Conference. Fargo is four points ahead of the top team in the East, Chicago Steel (37-16-4-1 79 points), and eight points of the East’s second place teams, Youngstown Phantoms (35-18-4-1) and USA NTDP (35-18-3-2) who each have 75 points.
The Force have four games remaining in the regular season and their magic number for the Force is just one, any combination of wins and overtime losses to get that point will clinch the Western Conference for the Force. Fargo will either need to get 5 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 return to Scheels Arena on April 14 and 15 when they host a two game series versus the Lincoln Stars.