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Winter storm has Force hockey team stuck in Sioux Falls

FARGO-The Fargo Force were looking forward to playing a sold-out game at Scheels Arena on Saturday to close out the United States Hockey League regular season. As has been the case for many things of late, Mother Nature ruined everything.The Forc...

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FARGO-The Fargo Force were looking forward to playing a sold-out game at Scheels Arena on Saturday to close out the United States Hockey League regular season. As has been the case for many things of late, Mother Nature ruined everything.

The Force have been stuck in Sioux Falls, S.D., since their game against the Stampede on Friday night. With the Interstate-29 still closed as of 4 p.m. Saturday, the Force are staying Saturday night in Sioux Falls as well. That pushed the Force's game against Sioux Falls at Scheels Arena from Saturday at 7:05 p.m. to Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

"It's a curveball," Fargo Force coach Cary Eades said. "You can only control the things you can control. You can't control the weather and how your opponents are doing. We can only control how we play and how we react. Ideally, we would have loved to get home last night and stay in our beds and play in front of a packed house, as other teams are doing. It's just a part of life. We're just fortunate we didn't get caught out on the highway in the storm."

The Force generally leave for Sioux Falls at 12:30 p.m. when playing a 7:05 hockey game. The drive is about 3½ hours plus an hour to stop for a meal.

On Friday, the Force left at 11 a.m. with impending weather coming. It's a good thing they did, as the Interstate-29 was closed behind them as they hit Watertown, S.D.

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"It turned on like a light bulb, blowing, snowing and visibility was really bad between Watertown and Brookings," Eades said.

The Force arrived at 4 p.m., saw the forecast was legitimate and booked hotels for Friday night. Normally, the Force would take the bus ride back the same night when playing Sioux Falls.

"We'd much rather be playing tonight, but weather isn't allowing us to," Eades said. "We'll be ready to play tomorrow. We'll play the games when they're scheduled. We're just happy to be playing well, healthy and heading into playoffs."

The Force were on their bus on the way to a game against Green Bay on April 6 when news broke that the bus of the Humbolt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League collided with a semi-truck. There have been 16 reported fatalities from the crash.

"It hit pretty close to home with the amount of hours we spend on the bus, it's a junior hockey team like us with lives lost and players our age," Eades said. "We addressed it at a team meeting and it's something that is ongoing as far as the hockey world is concerned."

The Force will donate all of the proceeds from the chuck-a-puck contest from Sunday's game to the Broncos.

"Safety is always paramount," Eades said. "We don't put the kids at risk. As important as our games are, nothing is more important than safety of the kids."

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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