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Chris Murphy, Published September 28 2012

Force rally for OT win in season opener

FARGO – Thanks to a lack of execution on the power play, defeat seemed a certainty for the Fargo Force in the season opener versus Sioux City on Friday night at Scheels Arena.

The Force were 13 seconds away from letting their fourth power play get away from them and five minutes away from dropping to 0-1 on the season when Stanislav Dzakhov found Taylor Fleming for a blast on goal to tie things up at 2-2.

Dzakhov would fire in the game winner with one minute remaining in overtime off a nice feed from Dominic Toninato to cap the comeback and give the Force a 3-2 win in United States Hockey League play.

“It felt great,” Dzakhov said. “I got a nice pass from Toninato and just got lucky.”

Fargo wasted no time getting on the scoreboard when Brendan Harms and Toninato played give-and-go on a 2-on-1, with Toninato finding the back of the net less than four minutes into the game.

Sioux City answered less than four minutes later when David Goodwin centered the puck from the corner and found Jordan Boucher-Gold for a one-timer to tie the game.

Fargo nearly doubled Sioux City in the first period, putting 13 shots on goal to the Musketeers’ seven. The Force could only muster two shots, neither of which was very threatening, during the four minutes on the power play in the first period. The Force went shotless during another power play in the third period before Fleming netted the tying goal on the team’s fourth power play.

“Percentages are what they are, and 90 percent of power-play goals are scored from the point,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “We were playing on the side boards and killing the penalties for them.

“Fleming got it at the point and I don’t think the goalie saw it because of traffic. We have some work to do, but I’ll take a win over a loss any day of the week.”

The power play needs some work, but the Force did just enough to get the win.

“We were struggling on the power play,” Fleming said. “It was big for us to get something going our way, and after that we started to roll.”

Sioux City made Fargo pay late in the second period after an elbowing penalty cost Michael Booth two minutes in the box. Boucher-Gold found Conor McGlynn to make it 2-1 with the man advantage.

After giving up two goals in the first two periods, Force goalie Cameron Johnson settled down, making seven of his 24 saves in the third period and two in overtime to keep the Force in the game.

“I was definitely nervous to start off in my first USHL game,” Johnson said. “I knew we had it in us to come back. I figured if I would shut the door, they would get us back in the game and they did. It felt good to come from behind and win the game.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. F, Toninato (Harms) 3:19. 2. SC, Boucher-Gold (Goodwin) 6:42.

SECOND PERIOD: 3. SC, McGlynn (Boucher-Gold, Goodwin), 14:59.

THIRD PERIOD: 4. F, Fleming (Dzakhov), pp, 14:27.

OVERTIME: 5. F, Dzakhov (Toninato) 4:00. SAVES: F, Johnson 6-9-7-2 24 saves. SC, Hayton 12-6-6-2 26 saves.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548