The Fargo Force came out on top over the Waterloo Black Hawks 4-3 in a shootout battle in front of a crowd of 3,698 at Scheels Arena.
The Black Hawks took an early lead with a score by Ian McCoshen in the early minutes of play. Taylor Cammarata and Mike Huntebrinker were both credited with assists on the play. At 11:11 into the first period, the Force tied the game up at one a piece with a goal by Austin Ortega, his first since joining the Force earlier this month through a trade with Indiana. With a goal by Alex Iafallo, the Force grabbed a 2-1 lead with less than five minutes left in the first. Dominic Toninato and Chris Dienes assisted Iafallo.
"It felt great. It took me a couple games but there was a lot of excitement and it's good to have that monkey off my back," said Ortega about scoring his first goal as a Force player. Ortega said that his teammates are really opening up to him and that he has had an easy adjustment after coming to Fargo.
Headed into the second period the Force held a 2-1 lead that stayed intact as both teams put up a defensive battle through most of the second period. With less then a minute left in the second, the Black Hawks knotted the game at two when Justin Kloos scored on the power play with an assist by Zach Stepan.
Just over five minutes into the third period the Force regained the lead as Gavin Bayreuther fed the puck to Jared Dedenbach to take the lead. Goaltender Brendan Jensen came up with a big save to preserve the lead as Force put themselves into a tough five on three situation just over half way through the third period. With less than two minutes to play, the Black Hawks' Victor Newell scored with an assist from Tim Lappin to tie the game at three. Neither team was able to gain the advantage in regulation so it headed to over time.
The Force began the overtime period on the power play but was unable to use the five on four matchup to their benefit. Neither team was able to score in the five minute overtime so the game headed into a shootout to decide the victor of tonight's contest. Jensen in net for the Force during the shootout made the save against Waterloo's Taylor Cammarata. Ortega is first out for the Force, slid the puck past Black Hawks' goalie, Eamon McAdams. Waterloo followed with Kloos with a miss. The Force sent Toninato to solidify the shootout win but McAdams with a quick save kept the Black Hawks' hopes alive. Stepan took his turn against Jensen but was unable to score and the Force beat the Black Hawks 4-3.
"I used my go-to move and I just stuck with it and it happened to work," said Ortega of the go-ahead goal in the shootout.
"They are a good hockey team and we can't give them anything, we have to make them earn it," said Head Coach John Marks. "Every game is a playoff game. We play everybody in our division except one game from here on out and the five of us are battling for those four spots."
Bremer Bank's Three Stars of the Game:
The Force are back in action tomorrow night for another matchup against the Waterloo Black Hawks at 7:05pm for Purple-N-Pucks, sponsored by State Farm Agent Jill Henning. The Force players will be auctioning off their custom purple game worn jerseys live after the game. Autographed purple pucks will also be sold at the game by the Fargo Force Liquid Ice Ice Girls for $5 a piece!