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Published February 03 2012

Murray's overtime goal hands Force a loss

FARGO – Talk about having a fun trip back home.

OK. So Fargo isn't exactly home for Jimmy Murray.

But he did get to see family. OK. So it wasn't his family. It was the family of teammate Tanner Lane.

Either way, it wasn't a bad trip back to Fargo with Murray scoring the game-winning goal in overtime helping the Omaha Lancers beat the Fargo Force junior hockey team 4-3 on Friday night at Scheels Arena.

“I didn’t play well the last time I was here,” said Murray, a St. Cloud State commit. “We just had to be better.”

Murray was certainly better. He scored two goals and notched an assist.

It's a bit different than what he's used to doing. Murray's known more for his playmaking ability as he entered the night as the United States Hockey League's assist leader.

Murray's performance extended Omaha’s first-place lead in the Western Conference. Omaha improves to 24-12-2 while the Force fall to 19-15-4.

The Force, despite getting a point for an overtime loss, still slip further away from first place. The Force head into today in fourth place in the conference.

“We got the point,” said Force coach John Marks. “I am just disappointed.”

The Force took four penalties in the first 10 minutes, and Marks said it disrupted his team’s flow.

Murray, who spent part of last season in Fargo, scored the opening goal a little more than seven minutes in.

Even though Murray set up a go-ahead goal in the second period for a 2-1 lead, the Force stormed back for a 3-2 off a goal from Jordan Nelson.

Nelson, a former Mr. Hockey Award winner in North Dakota, scored two goals in the game.

The Force had 41 shots on goal. That appeared to be enough until defenseman and Denver commit Nolan Zajac struck midway through the third with a game-tying goal.

“I just remember getting the pass and going with it,” said Zajac, who is the younger brother of former University of North Dakota star and New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac. “I just put a shot on, but I didn’t think it was going to go in.”

Zajac's goal forced the game into overtime where Murray put the game away midway through the extra frame.

“There haven’t been too many times this year where we’ve given up a third-period lead,” Marks said. “You’d think we were fine and we were, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. O, Murray, (Bailey), 12:58. 2. F, Nelson (Corrin, Gothberg), pp., 19:16 SECOND PERIOD: 3. O, Gozzo (Murray), 2:43. 4. F, Richart (Corrin), pp., 5:26 5. F, Nelson (unassisted), sh, 9:17 THIRD PERIOD: 6. O, Zajac (Hamburg), 9:23

OVERTIME: 7. O, Murray (Bailey, Morrison), 2:16

SAVES: F, Gothberg 11-7-5-0 23 saves; O, Lyon 11-12-13-1 41 saves

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

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com