(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)
Coming into tonight’s USHL skirmish between the Fargo Force, and Sioux Falls Stampede, both teams had something to prove. The Force setout to lay claim to their fourth win in six games and grow their Western Conference lead, while the Stampede were aiming to get back to .500 on the season.
While Fargo had the last laugh tonight, things took awhile to get there.
After a first period where the Force controlled everything but the score, generating 14 shots on opposing netminder Trent Burnham to a mere five on Force netminder Brennan Boynton, it looked like the Force would take control of things in the second period. They did not, as Sioux Falls forward Michael Citara would get going towards a hat trick as he would score the next three goals after Jeremy Davidson opened things up on the power play.
The Providence commit looked to be the story of the evening as he was the star of the show. His line dominated play for every time they were on the ice, and in addition to that, the rest of the Stampede looked to bottle the Force’s quick strike offense up.
The plan almost worked
Then, St. Cloud State commit, Mason Salquist, got things rolling with a snipe 13:41 into the the third. Next, a mere 48 seconds later, Kyle Smolen pounced on a loose puck in the Sioux Falls end and fired one home to make it a tie game. Scheels Arena, with its socially distant crowd was rocking.
Owen Gallatin would then provide the game winning goal 15:12 into the final frame. He took a feed from Michael Suda and put the game back into the lead for the Force, and provided the final 4-3 margin.
This game showed a lot about both teams. For Fargo, it showed their continued resilience and ability to battle back through the face of adversity. The Force were really the better team for a five miute stretch to end the game, and in the heavy shot first period. Sioux Falls showed how their veteran side can grind down opponents and what they can do to start up after a slow beginning.
They also showed how they are vulnerable with turnovers and over reactionary play at times leading to bad results. It is only the sixth game of the season for these teams, and the playoffs are a long way away. Both have a lot to like, yet both team’s coaches will scratch their heads at points of this game. Bookmark this rivalry for later as both of these teams will play each other many more times this season.
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