FARGO-The Fargo Force entered Friday's matchup against Waterloo with 11 less goals than any team in the United States Hockey League. The Force left Friday's game with a 6-0 win and a lot more confidence in their ability to find the back of the net.
"It shows that we can be a pretty good hockey club," Force coach Cary Eades said. "I thought we played with a lot of speed. I thought the precision of our passing was good. I didn't think we gave Waterloo much time to have open space. We did a lot of good things and power play had three tonight. Real big win, but it's only one. We have to keep this momentum going."
The Force didn't waste much time, scoring less than two minutes into the game on Carson Musser's shot from the point with traffic in front. Midway through the first, Denis Smirnov found Blake Lizotte to the left of Waterloo goaltender Cale Morris and Morris had no chance. He went low, Lizotte fired top shelf and the Force had a power-play goal.
Just 18 seconds after Lizotte made it 2-0, Hugo Reinhardt got behind everyone and fired a backhander into the back of the net to make it 3-0 and end the night for Morris. The Force scored three goals in 11 minutes, 43 seconds on their first 13 shots.
"It's a huge confidence booster," Lizotte said. "Hopefully, we can keep the momentum with this big blowout win and can carry it into tomorrow."
The Force (15-16-2) even scored short-handed Friday. Smirnov picked off a pass on the penalty kill, went the length of the ice and made it 4-0 less than two minutes into the second period. The Force held the Black Hawks to just four shots in the second period and 14 through the first two periods.
"We have a great group. We just need to get some things going and we'll be clicking," Smirnov said. "Our power play was much better and our defense was great."
The Black Hawks entered Friday's game with the most goals in the Western Conference. The Force became the first team to shut them out this season.
"It's team defense," Eades said. "It starts with taking care of the puck. I thought our puck pressure was good. When they had the puck there was always a blue jersey right on them."
Charlie Gerard joined the scoring party with a power-play goal midway through the third period to put the Force up 5-0. The icing on the cake for the Force was 16-year-old and 2015 first-round Phase One draft pick Tommy Miller scoring in his Force debut with 55.7 seconds left.
Eades hopes back-to-back shutouts will not make for a short-lived up on the roller coaster ride that has been the Force season.
"Obviously, it wasn't their best game. We caught them on an off night," Eades said. "We're looking up in the standings. We're mature enough to know this is one win."
FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Musser (Gallant, Gerard), 1:59. 2, F, Lizotte (Smirnov, Crone), 11:25, pp. 3, F, Reinhardt (Schaeffer), 11:43.
SECOND PERIOD: 4, F, Smirnov, 1:33, sh.
THIRD PERIOD: 5, F, Gerard (Lizotte, Smirnov), 10:51, pp. 6, F, Miller (Reinhardt, Belisle), 19:05, pp.
SAVES: W, Morris 10-x-x-10, Hotte 5-10-7-22. F, Wischow 10-4-11-25