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Published January 18 2011

USHL: Force fall at home

Of course a rare Monday night game would provide a familiar scene for Zane Gothberg that could continue for years to come.

Gothberg, a North Dakota commit, got reacquainted with some old friends, who just happen to be Minnesota commits. Two of them managed to score on him helping the Sioux Falls Stampede grab a 3-1 win over the Fargo Force junior hockey team in front of 3,045 fans at Scheels Arena.

“Growing up, we’re all Minnesota boys so we played against each other,” said Gothberg, who made 25 saves in the loss. “Away from the rink, I really like those guys, but when we’re playing a game, we really don’t care for each other too much.”

Gothberg and Stampede forward Christian Isackson got a chance to catch up before the game. The duo, who are pretty good friends, have played each other so much there’s plenty to talk about.

Isackson got some ammo for their next meeting by scoring two goals for Sioux Falls (16-10-4).

But it was Ryan Reilly that got the reunion off to a fun start for the Stampede. He set up in front of net and deflected a shot from the point for a 1-0 lead with 9:54 left in the first.

Then it was Isackson’s turn. His first goal was scored like Reilly’s – He was in front of net and his stick deflected the puck in for a 2-0 lead with 5:50 left in the second.

His second goal came in the third when Gothberg sprawled for a loose puck, leaving Isackson to score into an empty net.

“I am thinking it might have been a coincidence,” Isackson said about the goals. “But I am hoping the trend continues.”

There’s no denying Isackson, Reilly and Reilly’s fraternal twin brother, Connor, picked a great night to help Sioux Falls extend its winning streak to five games.

That’s because Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was taking in the game. North Dakota assistant Carey Eades sat a few seats away from him.

NCAA rules prevent Lucia from saying anything about commits. Yet, if he could have talked, he’d have been pleased with his incoming trio.

Gothberg, however, wasn’t pleased, and he has a few more reasons outside of the three goals he gave up.

The Thief River Falls native does summer training in Minneapolis, and when he’s down there, he sometimes stays with the Reilly brothers.

“You know, I think I gave up both of their first (United States Hockey League) goals,” Gothberg said. “Yeah, it hasn’t been a fun time against those guys.”

Fun is a word that wouldn’t be used to describe the first period, according to Force (18-12-4) defenseman Brian Cooper.

Cooper, an assistant captain, said rough first periods have been a problem over the last two games.

He said the uneasy starts have led to players trying to do more by themselves instead of trying to fix things as a team.

“We’ve played three or four more games than most teams in the league,” said Cooper, who scored the Force’s lone goal, which came in the third period. “So when we don’t win games and get further behind Dubuque, or have a smaller lead on Sioux Falls, it hurts.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. SF, R. Reilly (Prochno, Jacobson), power play, 9:54.

SECOND PERIOD: 2. SF, Isackson (Pastore), 5:50.

THIRD PERIOD: 3. SF, Isackson (Coatta, Youngman), 1:44. 4. F, Cooper (Mullin, Lane), 15:36

SAVES: F, Gothberg 7-11-7 25 saves. Williams 7-6-11 24 saves.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548