Force score three third-period goals in less than 2 minutes to beat Stampede
FARGO — The Fargo Force scored three goals in less than two minutes to erase a two-goal third-period deficit and defeat Sioux Falls 4-3 in United States Hockey League action on Friday at Scheels Arena before a crowd of 1,860.
Mason Salquist struck first with 6:29 to go, followed by Kyle Smolen with 5:29 and then Owen Gallatin with 4:48.
“I like the resiliency our group showed,” Force coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux said. “They went up two in the third, and I’m glad our group stuck with it. We showed a lot of guts and a lot of heart. We just needed one person to make a play and they came through. We got a couple of fortunate bounces and we stuck with it and we got the result we were looking for.”
Salquist scored his goal with a near-post shot from the deep left slot after receiving a pass from Tristan Broz who brought the puck up the right wing.
Kyle Smolen tied it up with an unassisted goal a minute later. About half a minute later, Owen Gallatin blasted in a shot from the point to give the Force the lead. Suda and Tyler Rollwagen had assists on Gallatin’s goal.
“You’re not going to score three in one shift. It was just get that first one and then work for the next one,” Lamoureux said. “We were able to obviously tie it up and then get the lead there. To score three goals there just shows our team’s toughness.”
The Force held a shots on goal lead in each period, leading 14-5 in the first, 10-8 in the second, and 14-4 in the third. It just took until the third period for the shots to start going in.
“I felt like we had a lot of the play for the course of the game,” Lamoureux said. “We talked to our group about staying in our scoring area. It’s not rocket science. Have good posture around the net, do the little things to make sure you’re outcompeting your opponent.”
The Force (4-1-1) are unbeaten in three games against the Stampede (2-4-0). Fargo defeated them 5-3 and 5-0 in a home-and-home to open the season on Nov. 13-14. Fargo opened the season on a three-game winning streak before dropping to in a row and then winning Friday.
“We consider Sioux Falls one of our biggest rivals if not our biggest rival,” Lamoureux said. “Games get heated against that team and we want to win. We’re just going to focus on the next game the next time we play them. We’re not going to focus on the record. We respect that team and how hard they work. We know every time we face them it’s going to be a hard fought game.”
Fargo scored first, but the lead lasted just a minute before Michael Citara scored the first of his three goals to tie it up.
Jeremy Davidson gave the Force a 1-0 lead with a power play goal with 16:57 to go in the second period. Matt Crasa centered the puck into traffic in front of the net. Davidson had an initial shot saved, but got the rebound and shoved it in at the left post. Grant Slukynsky also assisted on the goal.
Citara answered right back with a power-play goal of his own less than a minute later. He then added a second with 9:27 to go in the second period and a third early in the third period.
Citara’s third goal came on his first shift back after returning to the ice from a slashing penalty.
“He scored a hat trick on us,” Lamoureux said. “He’s a player that since Day 1 I’ve identified as a top player for Sioux Falls. He’s a dangerous player. Give him credit for executing on his chances. You’ve got to respect dangerous players but you’ve got to make it tough on them too.”
The Force killed two power plays in the first period to send the game into the first intermission tied at 0. But as the game wore on, the Fargo coach said the special teams broke down.
"Our penalty kill has got to improve," Lamoureux said. "Right now we’re getting scored on at least once a game. We did have some nice kills but that is an area we need to improve on for sure."
FIRST: No scoring.
SECOND: 1, FF, Davidson (Crasa, Braccini). 1, SF, Citara (Schweitzer, Pinoniemi) 3:57 pp. 2, SF, Citara (Fantauzzi, Pinoniemi) 10:34.
THIRD: 3, SF, Citara (Haskins) 2:33. 2, FF, Salquist (Broz) 13:41. 3. FF, Smolen (unassisted) 14:29. 4, Gallatin (Suda, Rollwagen) 15:12.
SAVES: FF, Boynton 14. SF, Burnham 34.