The Fargo Force split the weekend series with the Des Moines Buccaneers, falling 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night in front of a crowd of 3,540 at Scheels Arena.
The Force still sit in the second place position in the Western Conference standings, sitting four points ahead of the Lincoln Stars and seven points behind the Sioux Falls Stampede. The Force looked to gain points in the standings with a weekend sweep over the Buccaneers. Des Moines struck first in tonight’s contest with a goal by Joseph Gambardella. Cam Johnson in net for the Force had 16 stops through the first period and Buccaneers’ goalie Nick Ellis had 11.
With just 2:24 into the second period, the Force got on the board with a goal from Austin Ortega with a pass from Chris Dienes to even the game up at one a piece. Both teams battled with elevated tempers through the remainder of the second period, but neither side was able to find the net as both Johnson and Ellis held their ground between the pipes and the second period ended all knotted up at one. The Force led in shots on goal 31 to 16.
Over half way through the third period, Des Moines broke the tie when Axel Wemmenborn scored off of assists from his linemates, Ali Thomas and Danial Elser. With just 14 seconsd left in regulation the Force refused defeat and knotted it up with a goal by Gavin Bayreuther with assists from Dominic Toninato and Brendan Harms. With no time remaining, the game headed into overtime.
“Every point is big and Ellis came to play,” said Gavin Bayreuther. Bayreuther knew what he was up against when he scored in the final seconds of the game to send it to overtime after playing against Ellis last year in prep school.
With neither team able to advance their position to win the five-minute overtime, the game headed to a shootout. With Elser for the Bucs and Ortega for the Force both missing in the first round of the shootout, the game still remained even. Des Moines sent in Luke Voltin, who snuck one around the back of Johnson to give Des Moines the one-up. The Force sent up both Toninato and Gust for their final shots in the shoot out but Ellis blocked both shots to gain the win for the Buccaneers.
“Credit to Ellis, he had a great night and he won the game for them. Sometimes you play well and you don’t win,” said Head Coach John Marks. “We still earned one point which could turn out to be a big point.”
Duluth native, Philip Beaulieu, came to the Force this weekend off a run in the Minnesota High School tournament with Duluth East. “I didn’t think it was too much off the state tournament [Minnesota High School] pace but the guys are a lot bigger. Everyone is good out there, so you have to bring your ‘A’ game. It’s a grind,” said newcomer Philip Beaulieu. In the tournament, Duluth East played in the first round against Moorhead. Beaulieu is now teammates on the Force with Moorhead High School forward, Aaron Herdt. “Herdt and I have always been friends, I like him a lot and he’s a good teammate.”
The Force hit the road for the next two weekends but are back in town on April 5 to take on the Sioux Falls Stampede at 7:35pm. It’s Kids Rule Night courtesy of Stop-N-Go. Visit any Stop-N-Go location for a FREE kids ticket voucher. First 300 kids get Fargo Force player trading cards! Also come out to see all your favorite local mascots for Mascot Night.
Don’t forget about the Force Family Fun Giveaway! It’s your chance to win 2 laptop computers from Dell, a pop-up camper from Outlet Recreation.com or a hot tub from Tubs of Fun. Play Chuck-a-Puck during any game for a chance to be entered or just buy a ticket to the game as one random row will be selected at each game and anyone in that row will be entered in the giveaway. Prizes will be given away at the Force games in April and you must be present to win.
Single game tickets are available by stopping by the Scheels Arena box office Monday-Friday from 11am-6pm, calling the box office at 701.364.3672, stopping by any Ticketmaster location or by calling 800.745.3000 or online at ticketmaster.com.
By: Melody Neer