Force Drop Game 1 of Clark Cup Finals

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

The Force opened the Clark Cup Finals as the host team and looked to use home ice to their advantage in a matchup with the Eastern Conference Champion Youngstown Phantoms. The game got off to a back and forth start with each team trying to get a feel for the other team. Both goalies played very well in net.

In the first period the Force were unable to get many shots on net, just getting three to Phantom goalie Jacob Fowler and Youngstown, while better, only got three more shots on goal against starting goalie Anton Castro. While a defensive struggle didn’t allow for many highlight reel plays, Mac Swanson again showed off his high hockey IQ and stick-handling skills as he assisted Castro in preventing what could have been the game’s first goal when he blocked a point blank shot while Castro was sliding across the crease. The game entered the first intermission tied at 0-0.

The second period would be a repeat of the first period, however, the game saw its first penalties of the series. Phantom defenseman Andrew Strathmann was whistled for slashing at 16:13, which looked to give the Force their first opportunity on the power play, but on that same play Girts Silkalns was also issued a two-minute minor for slashing and the teams skated 4-on-4 for two minutes and neither team gaining an advantage. Fargo was more aggressive in the second period getting 15 shots on goal to Youngstown’s 8. But with just 28 seconds left in the period, Silkalns was whistled for a high sticking penalty that would give Youngstown their first power play of the evening.

The third period started with Youngstown on the power play, but just 26 seconds into the period Fargo was called for another high sticking penalty on Bret Link. Youngstown would have a two-man advantage for just over a minute and a real opportunity to gain all of the momentum in the game. Fargo was able to kill off the Silkalns penalty, but just as soon as Silkalns got back on the ice, sustained pressure in the front of the net allowed William Whitelaw to bang home a loose puck and give the Phantoms a critical opening goal. Just over a minute later the Phantoms would get what would be the game winner when more pressure on the Fargo net would result in a Miles Gunty goal and a 2-0 lead. Youngstown would add a third goal that caromed off Castro’s back and into the net, the Phantoms also got an empty net goal to cap their scoring for the evening and make it a 4-0 game. The Force wouldn’t give up and with 58 seconds remaining Anthony Menghini would score his first goal of the postseason to make the final a 4-1 Youngstown victory.

The Game’s 3 Stars were 1st Star Jacob Fowler, 2nd Star William Whitelaw, and 3rd Star Anthony Menghini.

The Force will face Youngstown tonight at Scheels Arena at 6:05 PM. This is the last home game of the season for the Force if the series does not go the full five games. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for May 19th and 20th in Youngstown