Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.
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FARGO—The Fargo Force had one last hoorah together Monday at Scheels Arena before players head home for the offseason Tuesday. And they invited anyone in the area to celebrate the organization's first Clark Cup championship with them. "Ten years. Finally," team owner Ace Brandt shouted to the crowd of hundreds during a ceremony. "It was worth the wait."
FARGO—It's only fitting the Fargo Force have to travel the longest possible trip for the Clark Cup. It's nearly 17 hours and more than 1,000 miles to Youngstown, Ohio. The organization has been waiting 10 years to be crowned the champions of the United States Hockey League, so what's 17 more hours? "It's the end goal," Force defenseman Jonathan McDonald said. "It's a dream." The Force and Youngstown are tied 1-1 in the best-of-five series after splitting two games at Scheels Arena last weekend. Game 3 and Game 4 are at Covelli Centre on Friday and Saturday at 6:05 p.m.
FARGO—Scheels Arena stood silently a few hours before the Force took the ice to practice Tuesday. The lights were turned off. In the upper corner of the arena hang three banners for Western Conference championships and two for awards for United States Hockey League's organization of the year. A fourth Western Conference championship flag will be added at some point.
Fargo Agitating is an art form to Fargo Force winger Griffin Loughran. Whether it's blowing a kiss, winking, smiling or just reminding players on the opposing team that he's only 5-foot-6 and somehow still beating them, Loughran has many brushes to paint opponent's irritation. "Aggravate as many people as possible and put the puck in the net," Loughran said. "That's really my go-to."
FARGO—There's a sign taped to the wall in the hallway leading from the Fargo Force locker room to the Scheels Arena ice. It's the last thing players see before every period and practice. It says "Welcome to the house of pain!" with the last three words underlined. Someone wrote "Cary's" in marker before the word house. It's been there for years. The culprit has never been found out. "I don't know," Fargo Force Cary Eades said with a laugh when he was asked about who did it. "But I like it."
Fergus Falls, Minn. Heidi Fisher cries when she talks about her bowling team at Moorhead. She's been the coach of the adapted bowling team for the Spuds since the program began two years ago. The tears come from thinking about people like Katie Cragg, who said she had never waved and said good luck to a bus with her son Mitchell on it until he joined the team. Katie estimates she or her husband are with Mitchell 90 percent of the time. Mitchell is a seventh-grader and has a chromosomal condition called trisomy 13. He's nonverbal and has physical impairments.
FARGO—The Fargo Force entered the third period Saturday night trailing Waterloo. The Force left the third period champions of the United States Hockey League's Western Conference. The Force are headed to the Clark Cup Final for the first time since 2013 thanks to a 3-2 win and a 3-1 series win in the conference championship before 2,481 fans.
FARGO—The Fargo Force are one win away from heading to the Clark Cup Final for the first time since 2013. The Force topped Waterloo 6-4 Friday at Scheels Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. The Black Hawks will have to beat the Force in back-to-back games, something that hasn't been done since Feb. 23. "We hate losing," Force right winger Griffin Loughran said. "We're not good at it, we're not good at losing, we're not good at taking a loss." That could be why they keep winning.
MOORHEAD -- Moorhead's Sam Beedy is taking his managing talents to Concordia. Beedy has been on the sidelines, benches and dugouts for Moorhead for the last four years as a team manager of the football, boys hockey and baseball teams for the Spuds. He made it official on Friday with a signing ceremony at the high school. "It only seems fitting that we celebrate and show our appreciation for all that he's done," Moorhead athletic director Dean Haugo said. "He taught us a lot about how to do things right in life."
FARGO—The Fargo Force have open ice at 10 a.m. each day. It's not mandatory for the team to be there, but coaches would like to see players there once or twice a week. The Force coaching staff had to tell defenseman Spencer Meier to stop showing up because for months he was coming every day.