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Published April 26 2012

Force ‘all focus’ after Game 3 loss

FARGO – Certainly the view is different this time around for Dominik Shine.

But will it stay that way?

Shine was a member of last year’s Lincoln Stars team, which was ousted from the playoffs by the Fargo Force.

Tonight provides the Stars a chance to shine by picking up a series-clinching Western Conference semifinal victory and in the process, ending the Force’s season.

Game 4 starts at 7:35 p.m. at Scheels Arena.

“For us it is about controlling our emotions,” said Shine, who is in his third year with Lincoln. “When we play hard and stay out of the box, and play an honest game, we can control a game.”

If Lincoln can control Game 4, it would end a one-sided rivalry in which Fargo had won two straight series without a loss.

The dominance continued through Game 1 with the Force taking the opener, but the series has changed.

Lincoln has used a physical, unforgiving style to stifle and frustrate a Force team that has yet to see a goal from its top line this series.

“It starts with the character in our locker room, and everyone on our team is on the same page,” said Stars forward Brent Tate. “Nothing against the Force. It’s just they play that cute, tic-tac-toe game. We don’t want to play like that at all.”

Force defenseman Justin Wade was taken aback by Tate’s comments, considering Lincoln’s Kevin Roy led the league with 104 points in the regular season.

He joked Roy played a “tic-tac-toe” game given how he scored his 54 regular-season goals.

Wade was serious about how a Game 3 loss shook the team to its core.

“In our locker room it is all focus,” Wade said. “Either it’s the end of our season or we continue it. Everyone knows the importance of this game.”

Force forward Colton Hargrove echoed Wade’s thoughts.

Hargrove said the Force’s locker room was silent for about 10 minutes following the loss.

It was at that point, Hargrove said, when the team realized by Saturday, the season could be over.

“It was pretty tough to take it,” Hargrove said of the Game 3 loss. “Going into (today’s) game, it will be a different atmosphere in the locker room. We know we need the win.”

Force coach John Marks said getting that win would mean getting some goals.

Offense has been at a premium for the Force since its five-goal, Game 2 against Sioux City in the first round.

The Force have scored five goals in three games against the Stars this series.

Prior to practice, Marks was in his office going over his team’s numbers.

The numbers told him something he already knew: The Force need goals.

Subtract Roy’s empty-net goal at the end of Game 3, and Lincoln has outscored the Force 6-5.

Marks’ point was if his team can get some goals, it would give his team an edge and perhaps a Game 5 date for Saturday.

“You can say they are big, you can say they are physical, but I have faith in our hockey team,” Marks said. “We can win Friday night and if there is a Game 5, I don’t care if it’s played in Lincoln, Omaha or in Timbuktu, I will take my chances. I’ll play that one game, anytime, anywhere.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter

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

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com