The Fargo Force headed to the Ice Box in Lincoln for a weekend matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference, their first meeting of the young season. The first game of the weekend series was the first of five straight road games for the Force.
On Friday, December 2nd, the Force and Stars started as expected with two of the top defenses in the league resulting in a scoreless first period. The Stars struck first in the second period when Jared Mangan netted his 4th goal of the season. However, the lead was short lived, as Kyle Smolen tied the game just 13 seconds later. Fargo would take the lead at 13:44 of the second period when Ty Henricks scored his second of the season. The Force would extend the lead approximately two minutes later when one of the Force’s leading goal scorers, Anthony Menghini would get his 11th goal of the season. Fargo put the game away shortly before the midway point of the third period when JP Turner scored his fourth goal of the season and ended the scoring in favor of Fargo 4-1. Penalties were fairly even in the contest, Fargo had two power plays and Lincoln had three power plays. Neither team was able to capitalize on the man advantage which once again shows how effective each team is on the penalty kill. Fargo had two of the game’s Three Stars as Ty Henricks was named the 1st Star and Anthony Menghini was the 2nd Star.
The Force came into Saturday’s matchup having increased their lead in the Western Conference to five points over Lincoln, but the Stars were determined to get those two points back on the second night of the series. Once again the Stars first, this time on a first period power-play goal by Klavs Veinbergs. Also, like the previous game that lead was short lived as Moorhead native Harper Bentz scored his second goal of the season to tie the game just 22 seconds later. The game did not follow the previous night’s script as the two teams went scoreless for the rest of the first and second periods. After a penalty filled end to the first period and the start of the second things calmed down as both teams were locked in defensively. The third period only saw two penalties but both were whistled against the Force. The first was a hooking penalty against Jacob Napier wasn’t as costly as the high sticking call against German Yavash at the 7:23 mark of the third period. Just 17 seconds into the power play the Stars cashed in on their opportunity when Henry Nelson got his first goal of the season. That power-play goal was the difference in the game as Lincoln held on to split the weekend series and earn a 2-1 victory. Nelson was named the game’s 1st Star, while his teammates, Lucas Massie and Klavs Veinbergs were the 2nd and 3rd Stars respectively.
The Force were able to split the weekend series and maintain their three point lead over Lincoln as the top team in the Western Conference. As tough it is to stay consistent against a quality opponent the power play wasn’t able to produce any goals. However, the penalty kill remains fourth in the league which is a good sign going forward. The Force do have the best record in the Western Conference and second best in the USHL with a record of 13-4-0-3 (29 points).
The Force return to the road this week as they play three games in three days, starting at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City against the Musketeers (9-7-2-1 21 points) on December 9th and then back-to-back games at the Liberty First Credit Union Arena versus the Omaha Lancers (7-10-3-1 18 points) on the 10th and 11th. Sioux City is currently in fourth place and Omaha is in eighth place, but the Force cannot overlook either team as they are both tough physical teams that have been able to beat the Force this season.