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Published March 24 2012

Gust helps Force top Des Moines

FARGO – Playoff berths are nice, but there’s more to gain.

Like first place in the Western Conference.

The Fargo Force, a day after they were guaranteed a spot in the postseason, used a two-goal game from Dave Gust in a 4-2 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday in front of 3,996 fans at Scheels Arena.

“Mathematically, we’re still in the hunt for first place,” said Force coach John Marks. “Until it is not mathematically possible for us to finish first, that’s what we are going for.”

Finishing first would give the Force (28-20-5) a bye for the first round. Staying in third or fourth would give them a first-round series where they would have home ice against a lower seed.

The Force – who are in third place – are eight points out of first place with six games left.

Gust did his part, scoring the game’s opening goal and then scoring later in the second.

“Last night we all thought our line didn’t do what we usually do,” said Gust, who was pointless in Friday’s

2-0 win. “So we wanted to come out and do what we usually do and I thought we did a good job of that.”

Gust’s linemates Gabe Guertler and Alex Iafallo also finished with two points each.

Gust’s first goal came 2 minutes, 13 seconds into the opening frame, marking the aggressive tendencies the Force showed all game.

The Buccaneers (20-28-4) tied the game twice, yet could never position themselves for a win.

Sweeping Des Moines comes two weeks after both teams had players who were the subject of a police investigation officially closed a few days ago.

Fargo’s Neal Goff was allegedly assaulted by two Buccaneers players a day after he used a racial epithet against Trent Thomas-Samuels.

Goff and his grandfather were in the stands when they were allegedly assaulted after the game in Iowa.

Police in Urbandale, Iowa, said Thursday it was issuing arrest warrants for Des Moines’ Kevin Irwin and Tanner Karty on separate assault charges.

Force captain Brian Cooper said the team wanted to use this weekend to move past the incident and to possibly move up the standings.

“Right now Omaha is up there, but if they keep losing and we have a couple games in hand, we could still move up,” Cooper said. “Lincoln is on the horizon and a lot can happen if we keep winning.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. F, Gust (Guertler, Iafallo), 2:13. 2. DM, Allen (Decowski, Kirtland), 8:12. 3. F, Chyzyk (Hargrove, Cooper), 12:45 SECOND PERIOD: 4. DM, Greco (unassissted), sh., 6:23. 5. F, Hargrove (Farley, Chyzyk), pp., 6:30. 6. F, Gust (Guertler, Iafallo), 11:42 THIRD PERIOD: NO SCORING

SAVES: F, Gothberg 6-15-7 28 saves; DM, Copley 8-5-10 23 saves

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com