FARGO — The Fargo Force took a multi-goal lead in the first period and never relented as they defeated Waterloo 4-2 in United States Hockey League action Thursday at Scheels Arena.
The two early goals came from the first-place Force’s (12-3-2) top two point producers — Tristan Broz and Jeremy Davidson. Davidson continued his team-high points-per-game average, notching his 17th point in 17 games (6 goals, 11 assists). Broz pushed his tally to 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists).
“Broz is a returning veteran player — they’re both veterans,” Force coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux said. “Broz and Davidson are both playing the right way right now. They’re skating and checking and getting pucks. They’ve both got great offensive instincts. Offensively — they’re shooting threats and passing threats. They can score in a lot of different ways.”
On Broz’s goal, Ryan Richardson picked up a loose puck after an errant Waterloo pass in the left circle. He cut across the ice and laid off to Broz in the right circle. Broz wristed it top shelf and past the goalie to make it 1-0 with 4 minutes, 24 seconds to go in the period.
Two minutes later, Davidson doubled the tally with an assist from Aaron Huglen. Huglen fired a shot from the point, forcing a save. The puck ricocheted off the boards and onto Davidson’s stick. Davidson put on the brakes as he crossed the goal line, took a step back and deposited the puck into an open net.
“I thought we had a solid start to the game,” Lamoureux said. “Waterloo is a very well-coached team, hard working. The first 15 minutes of the first period was a really tight game. There weren’t a lot of chances either way. We got a good bounce on a turnover and capitalized on that.”
Huglen had two assists in the game. His second came on a Cody Monds goal in the third. They were the University of Minnesota commit’s second and third points since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for 20 months. He scored a highlight-reel goal in his first game back last Saturday.
“Huglen’s a high-end playmaker,” Lamoureux said. “He’s got some special ability and special talent. He’s going to be able to make plays when he’s out on the ice. He’s coming back after not playing for almost two years. You’ve got to manage his minutes and his shifts. He’s an elite talent and we’re glad he’s able to get back playing.”
Waterloo had most of the offense in the first 10 minutes of the second period. The Black Hawks put 10 shots on goal to Fargo’s 3 in that time and scored their first goal.
Ryan O’Hara put them on the board to make it 2-1 five minutes into the period.
The Force bounced back in the second 10 minutes of the period. They outshot the Black Hawks 8-1 in that span, but didn’t add to their tally until the third.
“We had to get back to making simple plays and taking what was there,” Lamoureux said. “Waterloo came out fast. There just weren’t as many plays to be made in the second period. We had to get back to playing simple hockey to get some momentum back.”
Fargo took the momentum back in the third. Erik Bargholtz scored with an assist from Trevor Griebel eight minutes into the third. Cody Monds scored a power-play goal with assists from Huglen and Matt Crasa with six minutes to go, extending the Force lead to 4-1.
Waterloo’s Owen Ozar added a power-play goal of his own a couple minutes later, but the Force already had the game in hand.
The Force have bounced back to win three consecutive games since dropping two in a row to Sioux Falls and Sioux City on Dec. 26 and 29. They beat Sioux Falls twice last weekend 6-3 and 4-1.
“When things aren’t going well and you lose some games, you’ve got to be able to get back on track,” Lamoureux said. “We had a couple of losses to Sioux Falls and Sioux City and that created some urgency in our locker room. And we’re battling some injuries. That gives guys a chance to step up.”
FIRST: 1, F, Broz (Richardson) 15:36. 2, F, Davidson (Huglen) 17:38.
SECOND: 1, W, O’Hara (Gucciardi) 4:56.
THIRD: 3, F, Bargholtz (Griebel) 8:02. 4, F, Monds (Huglen, Crasa) 14:07 pp. 2, Ozar (Waldron) 15:47 pp.
SAVES: F, Miller 9-12-3—24; W, Glockner 7-11-8—26.