Force games still a family affair even amid pandemic
"I love Fargo Force. I love hockey, so it's always good to come here and have fun with everyone else"
It's Friday night, and the Fargo Force are playing the Lincoln Stars in the second game of a three-game homestand.
The Koehler family sits in the lower bowl behind the benches, watching on.
"It's really fun. I love going here with my dad and my sister," said Josua Koehler.
Fargo Force games are and always have been a family affair for the Koehlers. Even when Josua and his sister, Katie, were younger.
"I've always come to Force games ever since I was a little kid. I can always remember coming here and having fun," said Katie.
The fun isn't slowing down. Even in the middle of a global pandemic. Even though Force games are limited to 1,000 fans.
"You're always going to see energy levels deplete when half the stadium isn't filled. We've had a decent dip in attendance, but overall the energy is still there and everyone is super happy to be here," said Katie.
For Josua, being in the crowd, cheering for goals and watching hockey live brings a different vibe than watching on tv.
"It just...a lot more professional level here," said Josua. "It's just...being in the game, and just seeing them pass the puck around instead of watching on TV is a lot more satisfying."
Fargo Force President Jon Kram says they've received positive feedback from fans about the experience in Scheels Arena this season.
"Really positive comments," said Kram. "Our fans are excited to be able to see live hockey. They're willing to comply with all the different guidelines. They got to wear masks when they're out on the concourse. They got to social distance at concession stands, and sit in their pods, but they're really excited to have something to come out to and enjoy."
The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks also had fans in the stands at their games in the summer.
Kram says fans who are able to attend Force games this season may leave with a greater appreciation.
"I think the one positive thing that we have come out of this is people do appreciate stuff a little bit more right now. The fans that are coming out appreciate it, where in the past they might've taken it for granted. Now they know it's a luxury. It's not always guaranteed."
Josua Koehler will continue attending Force fans this season. He won't let the pandemic slow him down, he says, because he wants to see the Force come out on top.
"I want to see them bring back the Clark Cup back to Fargo, North Dakota."
The Force recently completed a three-game sweep at home against the Stars. They are now on the road for their next four games. They return home Dec. 29 to take on Sioux City.