OT Goal Lifts Phantoms to Game 2 Win

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

The Force hosted Game 2 of the Clark Cup Finals against the Youngstown Phantoms looking to even the series at a game apiece.. The game was eerily similar to game one, but with the home crowd on edge as they all knew the importance of this game in a short playoff series.

In the first period, the Force came out aggressive as they tried to set the tone early.  Fargo went on the power play first in the game when Youngstown’s William Whitelaw was called for Charging when he ran into Force goalie Matej Marinov, but the Force were unable to capitalize on the man advantage.  At 14:32 it looked like Fargo would get their second power play of the game when Jack Wilson was called for Youngstown’s second penalty of the evening, but on the same play Charlie Russell was called for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and the net result was two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. The Force would outshoot Youngstown in the first period 12-6 and had a couple of good opportunities, but once again couldn’t get anything past Phantom goalie Jacob Fowler. 

The second period started like Game 1, with each team remaining scoreless and whoever scored first would have a huge advantage. Youngstown was the first to seize that momentum as Miles Gunty got the first tally of the game when he slipped one past Matej Marinov.  Fargo was able to fight back at about the midway point of the period when Bret Link grabbed a loose puck and split two defenders and used a wicked backhand to get the game-tying goal for the Force. The rest of the period remained the status quo of the rest of the series, back-and-forth play with opportunities that were nullified by great goaltending and stellar defensive play. Heading to the second intermission in a huge game both teams sought to find the one play that could define a season. 

The third period began with Youngstown on the powerplay, another similarity to Game 1, but this time the Force weren’t whistled for another penalty at the beginning of the period and were able to kill off the penalty unscathed. Just like most of the game, each team had opportunities to take a late lead but each time there was a chance someone made a play to negate the other team. Fargo continued to crash the net and try to bang home a game-winner and get a much needed victory, unfortunately, the Force couldn’t find a second goal in regulation and the game would head to overtime.

The overtime period got underway and as some fans braced for what could be a long grueling haul, the Force looked to end things early. Just seconds into the overtime Cole Knuble had a great opportunity to get the win but Fowler once again denied him and the Force. Fargo continued to be the aggressor and looked like they would find a way to get the win. However, at 6:59 Andon Cerbone found himself open in front of Marinov and broke the hearts of Force Nation by burying a puck over the top of Marinov’s shoulder. Youngstown had taken both games in Fargo and a commanding 2-0 series with them back to Ohio.

The Game’s 3 Stars were 1st Star Jacob Fowler, 2nd Star Bret Link, and 3rd Star Andon Cerbone.

The Force will travel to Youngstown for games on May 19th and 20th (If necessary). Fargo will need to take both games in Youngstown if they want to hoist the Clark Cup this season. Fargo was 20-7-3-1 on the road during the regular season and is 2-0 on the road in the postseason, but traveling 16 hours away from Fargo and facing elimination is a difficult task. The Force have proven all season they are one of the best teams in the USHL so to say they can’t do it would be foolish, but Youngstown has proven to be every bit as good as Fargo and has arguably the hottest goaltender in the league right now in net. The Force will be hosting watch parties each night the Force play in Youngstown at the High Point Bar in Scheels Arena.