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Published November 16 2010

USHL: Force standouts return after Junior ‘A’ Challenge

Now that gold medal run is over, the chase for a third consecutive Clark Cup Finals can finally get back on track for the Fargo Force.

The junior hockey team was without five players – Garrett Allen, Brian Cooper, Zane Gothberg, Jimmy Mullin and Colten St. Clair for the last two weeks. The quintet represented the United States in the World Junior “A” Challenge, which resulted in nabbing the gold medal for a third straight year.

Back in Fargo, it has been anything but golden for the Force. The team is mired in a seven-game losing streak, the second-longest in the United States Hockey League.

Five of those losses have been by one goal. Not to mention the tournament forced the team to revamp its roster.

Here’s a look at how the five Force players did for the U.S. and what they could do upon their return to the team:

- Allen, forward: He picked up four points (one goal, three assists) in Team USA’s four games. He was named Player of the Game in a 5-1 win against Canada West.

What it means: The Denver commit’s return gives the Force another top-six forward.

- Cooper, defenseman: Cooper was part of a defense that limited opponents to seven goals in four games. He also notched a goal and an assist.

What it means: He’s already one of the league’s better defenseman. Cooper adds depth and experience on a young back line.

- Gothberg, goaltender: Gothberg started all four games for the United States giving up one goal in each of the first three games. Gothberg was pulled in the title game after giving up four goals through 25 minutes.

What it means: It gives the Force another, healthy option at goalie while Ryan Massa is nursing a lower-body injury. Gothberg had played in four games before he left.

- Mullin, forward: He turned into the USA’s most dangerous forward led the tournament with six goals and was named to the first team.

What it means: The Force’s leading goal scorer has the touch and ability to draw defenders, which could help with opening up the offense and getting more chances.

- St. Clair, forward: Team USA’s captain tallied three assists en route to winning his second junior “A” gold medal.

What it means: The North Dakota commit brings leadership back to a young team and like Mullin, draws attention from other teams creating chances for his teammates.

On the fly

The Force added forward Justin Scott to the roster over the weekend.

He’s the fourth player the team has added over the last two weeks.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548