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Key injury doesn't stop Force from knocking off Sioux Falls

FARGO-Inconsistency was the theme and the ultimate demise for the Fargo Force last season. Three wins in a row were seemingly always met with three losses, resulting in them sitting at home during the playoffs. A demoralizing loss like the Force ...

Jack Doremus, center, of Sioux Falls lands on goalie Ryan Bischel with Hank Crone of Fargo during their USHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, at Scheels Arena.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Jack Doremus, center, of Sioux Falls lands on goalie Ryan Bischel with Hank Crone of Fargo during their USHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, at Scheels Arena.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO-Inconsistency was the theme and the ultimate demise for the Fargo Force last season. Three wins in a row were seemingly always met with three losses, resulting in them sitting at home during the playoffs. A demoralizing loss like the Force had last week against the United States Hockey League's best team in Sioux City would have certainly been met with at least two more losses last season.

Had the Force lost their leading point scorer less than two minutes into the game like they did Friday, a loss would have been guaranteed. That was last season. The Force answered last Saturday's loss to Sioux City and the loss of their points leader with a 3-1 win over Sioux Falls on Friday, Dec. 2, at Scheels Arena.

"I think the group this year, the returning players, realized that's the difference between making playoffs and not making playoffs," Force center Blake Lizotte said. "We took that to heart. Not making playoffs was a big deal to us. We took that to heart this year and are striving to be more consistent."

Less than two minutes into the game, Force right winger Jack Adams went off the ice with a trainer and did not return due to a laceration on his arm that required stitches. Adams had a 10-game point streak and entered Saturday tied with Muskegon's Collin Adams for the lead for points in the USHL with 26, despite playing in three less games.

That didn't stop the Force (12-8), despite the fact they didn't dress an extra forward.

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"That really made us one forward short. We really had to mix up our lines," Eades said. "There were people in and out. Guys played a lot of minutes. You're either going to find the excuse or find a way to win and we've been doing that a lot lately. Hopefully Jack is back tomorrow night, but it doesn't seem like it's anything serious."

Hank Crone opened the scoring for the Force three minutes after Adams left, tossing a puck on net with Grant Meyer screening Sioux Falls goalie Jeremy Swayman. Swayman squeezed his glove a little early and the puck went in off it.

"It's pretty simple. He's out, so we have to step up," Crone said of the injury to Adams. "Guys had to play different roles tonight. Everyone did their job and stepped up and did what they had to do and it worked out."

Early in the second, Blake Lizotte found Crone in the slot. Crone's shot trickled behind Swayman, and Lizotte pushed it home to make it 2-0. Sioux Falls (7-11-1) answered five minutes later when Josh Passolt found the back of the net, but the Force never allowed the equalizer.

"We've been staying away from back-to-back losses and showing some good resiliency. A lot of that is the maturity of our team and the leadership not getting too down," Eades said. "It wasn't a pretty game. The puck was bouncing around a lot, but we found a way to get two points. Those are big two points for us. Another win at home and another step in the right direction."

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Crone (Meyer, Hurley), 5:08.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, F, Lizotte (Crone, McDonald), 3:55. 3, SF, Passolt (Johnson,
Karlsen), 8:23.

THIRD
PERIOD: 4, Sundberg (McMahan), 19:56, empty net.

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SAVES: SF, Swayman 7-8-10-25. F, Bischel 5-7-7-19

A: 3,454

Related Topics: HOCKEY
Murphy has covered sports in Chicago, Minnesota and North Dakota since 2009, working for The Forum since 2012. Contact: cmurphy@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5548
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