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Published April 16 2012

Force skate by Sioux City in overtime

FARGO – With forwards buzzing the net, defenseman Willie Corrin figured he’d just throw the puck on net and hope someone would get the rebound.

But when Corrin saw the bench empty and everyone mob him, he knew something must have happened. Something, in this case, was scoring the game-winning goal in the Fargo Force’s 2-1 overtime win over the Sioux City Musketeers in front of 2,179 fans on Monday at Scheels Arena to open the United States Hockey League Playoffs.

“I saw (Austin) Farley come towards me and I’m thinking someone tipped it in,” Corrin said. “Then he told me that I scored and I was like OK.”

Corrin, a Minnesota-Duluth commit, put the Force a win away from advancing to the second round, where it would face the Lincoln Stars.

The Force will get that chance today with Game 2 starting at 7:05 p.m.

Corrin’s goal brought an exciting finish to a game that certainly had its dull moments in comparison.

Force forward Gabe Guertler scored in the game’s opening 20 seconds for 1-0 lead, giving the feeling this could be a high-scoring affair.

It wasn’t, with both teams playing an up-and-down style which didn’t generate much offense until the Musketeers tied it at 1-1 midway through the third.

“It’s playoff hockey and every team is playing defense,” said Gothberg, who made 27 saves on the night. “It’s human nature that it’s going to be a close game.”

Numbers also suggested it could be a close game. Gothberg, a North Dakota commit, led the USHL with seven shutouts.

Skoff, a Penn State commit, was second in the league with six shutouts.

He was holding his own until Corrin’s shot went in for the game-winner.

Corrin’s game-winner made for a quiet and visibly frustrated Musketeers locker room.

“I know that I have to make big plays,” said Skoff, who made 34 saves including two in overtime. “That was a puck I should have stopped.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. F, Guertler (unassisted), 19:40 SECOND PERIOD: NO SCORING THIRD PERIOD: 2. SC, O’Brien (Criscuolo), 9:07

OVERTIME: 3. F, Corrin (Chyzyk), 2:42

SAVES: F, Gothberg 12-7-8-0 27 saves; SC, Skoff 12-10-11-1 34 saves

Readers can reach Forum reporter

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

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com