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Force try to stave off sour Saturdays

Force at Lincoln - When: 7:05 p.m. tonight - Up next: Fargo at Sioux City, 7:05 p.m. Saturday Fridays have been pretty good for the Fargo Force so far this season. Saturdays, however, have not been good. Fargo enters its third weekend of USHL pla...

Force at Lincoln

- When: 7:05 p.m. tonight

- Up next: Fargo at Sioux City, 7:05 p.m. Saturday

Fridays have been pretty good for the Fargo Force so far this season. Saturdays, however, have not been good.

Fargo enters its third weekend of USHL play at 1-3, and coach Dean Blais is hoping his team can kick the Saturday blues.

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"I look at our team last Friday, and even though we lost, I felt like we made progress from the week before," Blais said. "Then on Saturday, it's like, 'What are we doing? What happened to us?'"

Fargo was swept by the Indiana Ice last weekend, but Friday was much better than Saturday.

The Force hung with the Ice through two periods, then lost 3-1. One of those goals was an empty-netter. On Saturday, Indiana blew the Force off the rink, winning 6-2.

"That might be the way it is for awhile, but the conditioning is getting there," Blais said. "As a coach, I was happy with their effort on Friday, just not the result."

The weekend before was the same. A solid Friday effort led Fargo to a 4-2 win over Omaha, and then a sluggish start on Saturday led to a 3-2 loss at Sioux Falls.

"That 3-2 score was more of a compliment to the play of Mike Lee, because it could've been a lot worse," Blais said. "We've got to get in better physical condition, and I think we're getting there."

Lincoln leads the USHL West Division at 3-1, while Sioux City (1-2) is tied with Fargo in the bottom of the West with two points.

Witkowski, Demers return from injuries

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The Force are back on the road for the third straight weekend, but a couple of guys will likely be making their first trip of the season with the team.

Defenseman Luke Witkowski and forward Chad Demers are expected to make their return from injuries and play for the team this weekend.

Fargo plays at Lincoln today and at Sioux City on Saturday.

"We're hoping they'll be ready to go," Blais said. "We're getting healthy, and it will be nice to have them in the fold."

Witkowski has been out with a separated shoulder, and Demers has been out with a pulled groin.

Witkowski is arguably one of the Force's best players, and the Western Michigan recruit was voted as the team captain by his teammates.

Home sweet home

While the Force may feel like road warriors so far this season, the team might be getting into the Urban Plains Center fairly soon.

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Blais said the Force could be practicing in their new home as early as next week.

That should help the team get a little more comfortable as the home opener closes in on Oct. 30.

"It's coming around," Blais said. "We expect to put the ice in on Friday, and we're hoping we'll be able to skate in there next week.

"Maybe by Wednesday and Thursday, we'll be practicing in there."

After this weekend, Fargo has a pair of road games against the Green Bay Gamblers Oct. 24-25.

Readers can reach Forum sports writer Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins' blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com

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The Force scored three first-period goals, then added two late to fend off the Storm on Friday.