Force Finish Regular Season with Shoot-out Win
Fargo Force claim three seed in USHL playoffs
FARGO, N.D. (Fargo Force Hockey) — With playoff match ups locked up and no ground to gain in the standings, Fargo and Sioux Falls spent much of Sunday on the bus prior to their match up at Scheels Arena. After Saturday night’s game was postponed, the teams had to make the journey to Fargo in less-than-ideal conditions.
“It’s crazy,” Fargo forward Ben Meyers said. “We kind of got trapped in Sioux Falls there, but we had a nice relaxing day off yesterday and then hopped on the bus again and drove through a little bit of a storm to get to the game tonight. It all worked out.”
The trip was worth it.
The Force scored a goal in the final minute and Ryan Bischel stopped all three Sioux Falls shots in the shootout to claim a 3-2 victory in front of a sold out crowd of 4761 fans Sunday night at Scheels Arena. Fargo got the win without its top forward line or top defensive pairing, who head coach Cary Eades elected to rest ahead of the playoffs.
After Sioux Falls claimed a 2-1 lead in the second period, it took Fargo all 60 minutes to find an answer, which they did late thanks to a goal from Spencer Meier with 45 seconds left in regulation. Meier’s shot from the point somehow found its way through traffic to beat the Stampede goaltender and send the game into overtime.
“That was huge,” forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, who, along with his linemates Grant Hebert and Griffin Loughran, got the night off, said. “It just shows how deep our team is. You can take the leading line off the ice and they still go out and win. It’s unbelievable. It just shows how good the guys we have in the room are and how good we are up and down the lineup.”
Fargo killed a penalty in OT before Ryan Bischel stopped all three Sioux Falls shooters in the shootout to give the Force the extra point.
The Force finish the regular season with a 37-16-7 record, good for third place in the Western Conference. Fargo has a five-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
Sioux Falls started out the scoring in the first period with a goal off the rush, but Fargo answered right back when a shot from the point by Spencer Meier deflected off the stick of AJ Drobot and into the back of the net. Drobot’s 14th goal of the season tied the game at 1-1 with 3:17 left in the first period.
Meier and Jordan Seyfert were credited with assists on the play. Seyfert extended his point streak to three games with the assist.
Sioux Falls scored again midway through the second, and the Force couldn’t capitalize on a man advantage late in the period to tie the game, giving the Stampede a 2-1 lead heading into the 180th period of the season.
Meier’s goal blew the roof off of Scheels Arena, and the Force were not going to be denied in the extra session.
Ben Meyers scored the game-winning goal in the shootout, and Bischel’s heroics saved the game for the home team. Affiliates Blaine Warnert and Spencer Cox — both 2017 draft picks — played their first career USHL games tonight.
The shootout win means Fargo finishes the regular season with 81 points, eight points more than the fourth place Stampede.
The Force begin their trek towards the Clark Cup with a best-of-three First Round playoff series against the Tri-City Storm Tuesday and Wednesday at Scheels Arena. A deciding third game will be played if necessary. Puck drop for all three games will be at 7:05 PM.
Fargo is 3-0-1 against the Storm this year, including a three-game winning streak against Tri-City back in February.
“They’re a good team,” defenseman Spencer Meier said. “We have to play hard and play a full 60 minutes. It’s playoff hockey and we have to play our best.”