Lincoln Storms Back in Second Period, Steals Game 2 in Fargo

Fargo Force Clark Cup Logo (Courtesy of Fargo Force)
Fargo Force Clark Cup Logo (Courtesy of Fargo Force)

The Fargo Force and Lincoln Stars faced off Friday Night, May 5th in game two of the Western Conference Finals, with the Force looking to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series. Fargo was looking to get off to a quicker start this game while Lincoln looked to even the series at a game a piece.

In the first period Fargo got exactly what it had hoped for when at 3:14 of the opening period, a centering pass out of the corner found its way to the stick of an open Mac Swanson who banged home the opening goal for an early 1-0 Force lead. Just four minutes later the perfect passing as Verner Miettinen found Boris Skalos on an odd-man rush to make it a 2-0 lead for the Force. Fargo received a questionable double minor on Charlie Russell at 15:25 on a high sticking penalty. Fargo was able to kill off the penalty and take the lead into the first intermission, and Matej Marinov and the Force had shut out the Stars for four straight periods.

The second period was the definitive period in this game as Lincoln came out very aggressive in the offensive zone.  At the 1:59 mark, JP Turner was whistled for a hooking penalty and just 20 seconds later Lincoln put one in the back of the net as Boston Buckberger got his first goal of the postseason. After the ensuing face-off, Lincoln was able to score again just 14 seconds later when former Fargo Force member German Yavash redirected the puck past Marinov to make it 2-2.  Fargo would regroup nicely as at the 4:55 mark when a wide-open Girts Silkalns took a pass from behind the net and beat Stars goaltender Cameron Whitehead to regain the lead at 3-2. Shortly after the go-ahead goal, Fargo would go on the power play after a Keaton Peters slashing penalty. However, near the end of the power play a mishandled puck in the neutral zone by Zam Plante led to a turnover and a breakaway for Tanner Ludtke who capitalized on the opportunity to tie the game at 3-3. The teams would head to the locker rooms tied and set up a crucial third period.

The third period was very tightly contested with each team trying to make the most of their scoring opportunities but each goalie doing their best impression of a brick wall and players from both teams getting down on the ice and blocking any would-be shot attempts. With the back-and-forth final period it was going to come down to the next team to capitalize on a loose puck. Unfortunately for Force fans, it was Lincoln who had Mason Marcellus poke home a rebound that gave the Stars a huge goal late and a 4-3 lead. Fargo thought they were going to get a power play at 15:06 when Keaton Peters was called for holding, but Fargo was whistled for a penalty of their own as Charlie Russell was called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct as well. This led to two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. Fargo wasn’t able to capitalize on the more open ice and with 1:17 remaining in the game pulled goalie Marinov to no avail.

 Lincoln got an important road victory and wrestled home-ice advantage away from the Force. The Game’s 3 Stars were 1st Star Mason Marcellus, 2nd Star Verner Miettinen and 3rd Star Jakob Stender.

The Force travel to Lincoln for games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Game 3 is Sunday, May 7th at 5:05 pm and Game 4 is Monday, May 8th at 7:05 at the Ice Box in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Fargo Force will be hosting watch parties at the High Point Bar at Scheels Arena for both games.