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Published February 24 2012

Ex-Force player Murray sparks Omaha victory in Fargo

FARGO – Games like this are why Jimmy Murray wanted out of Fargo.

Murray got playing time, but he wasn’t getting the kind of opportunities he wanted. It led to Murray asking for a trade to the Omaha Lancers in hopes of making an impact.

Murray made an impact Friday, scoring a goal and adding two assists in a 4-1 rout against the Fargo Force junior hockey team at Scheels Arena.

“I just try to play the same way every game, but playing against these guys is a little closer to my heart,” Murray said. “There are some things where I get a little lucky, but for whatever reason I put up points against this team, and that’s really it.”

Murray, a St. Cloud State commit, controlled the first period, getting a goal and an assist.

The Force (22-18-4) were on the power play when a turnover led to Murray getting the puck and ripping a shot past goaltender Zane Gothberg for a 1-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.

He was back at it 10 minutes later.

Murray had a defenseman draping him and was falling down, yet he slipped the puck to Chase Bailey, who scored for a 2-0 lead.

“When they had the puck in our end, we were awful,” said Force coach John Marks. “Jimmy Murray is allowed to just score short-handed, walks through our middle and then helps a guy score. He never got touched in the first period. Right away, him, him alone just toyed with our guys in the first period, because some of our guys never came prepared to play.”

The Force did make some adjustments in the second period, outshooting Omaha 14-3, but didn’t score until early in the third when Jordan Nelson cut it to 2-1.

The Lancers (27-15-3) became assertive getting in front of net and looking for a hole in the defense. Former Force forward Tanner Lane found one as he set up a goal for a 3-1 lead with 13:25 left.

With less than three minutes left, the Force were assessed simultaneous penalties, giving the Lancers a 5-on-3 and another goal that was set up by Murray.

Murray, who leads the USHL in assists, now has 11 points in seven games against the Force this season. It’s a turnaround from last season when he had 12 points in 33 games.

“I give credit to my coaches and teammates,” Murray said. “The coaches have put me out there, and my teammates allow me to do what I do.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. O, Murray (Morrison, Bailey), sh., 6:40. 2. O, Bailey (Bailey, Pedrie), 16:44 SECOND PERIOD: NO SCORING THIRD PERIOD: 3. F, Nelson (Hargrove), 1:47. 4. O, Hamburg (Vallis, Lane), 6:45. 5. O, Morrison (Murray, Gozzo), pp., 17:58

SAVES: F, Gothberg 9-3-6 18 saves O, Lyon 11-14-16 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