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Chris Murphy, Published October 18 2012

Fargo Force pick up home win over Youngstown

FARGO – After being outshot 125-69 in the previous three games – still somehow going 2-0-1 in that stretch – the Fargo Force came into Thursday’s United States Hockey League matchup wanting to give up 25 shots or less.

The Force just missed that goal, giving up 26 shots on net, but they’ll certainly take the 2-1 win over Youngstown in front of 3,239 fans at Scheels Arena and a spot atop the Western Conference.

Force coach John Marks was willing to look the other way on the one extra shot allowed.

“We’ll count the turnover and their shot in the slot as the one extra shot,” Marks said. “We’re playing better hockey. We didn’t give them much space and they had trouble getting out of their end.”

It was the first time on the season Fargo (4-2-1) outshot an opponent, as the Force put 39 shots on goal. One of those shots on goal was off the stick of defenseman Justin Wade midway through the second period. Wade found a loose puck just inside the blue line and blasted a slap shot into the back of the net to make it

1-0. It was Wade’s first point on the season.

“Just took it on the ice, saw I had an open lane and shot it,” Wade said. “I was pretty relaxed about not having a point yet, but it felt good. We focused on the motions and the strategy in practice defensively and we’re finally getting the hang of the systems.”

Less than three minutes later, Fargo got fancy. Brendan Harms found Dominic Toninato in the slot, who sent a backhand pass to his left for a Jordan Nelson one-timer top shelf to make it 2-0.

Nelson talked about the goal as if he was accepting an Academy Award.

“I’d like to thank my line mates,” Nelson said. “They are great to play with. Harms made a great play to get it to Toninato and Toninato made a nice pass to me and I just shot it.”

It took Youngstown (4-3) over five minutes into the third period to get a shot on goal in the frame, but the Phantoms made it count. Kyle Connor found a loose puck in the slot and found the back of the net to cut the Force lead to 2-1.

From there, the Force defense killed a two-minute power play with 5:45 left in the game, allowing no shots on the man advantage for the Phantoms.

Jensen stopped 25 shots in the net, a much lighter load than the man between the pipes has been used to of late.

“It really takes a load off,” Jensen said. “It’s a lot more relaxing because you’re ready for the shots you take. It was a big effort tonight on the defensive side.”

It wasn’t all pretty for Fargo, as the Force went scoreless on nine power plays and are yet to win a game away from home.

“I think we’re just more comfortable at home,” Nelson said. “It’s a great place to play. We need to carry what we have here to away games.”

As for the power-play woes, Fargo needs to crawl before it can walk.

“We could have had six or seven goals tonight,” Marks said. “The power play is what it is. We’re still crawling, but we’re getting off our knees a little bit.”

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1. F, Wade (Harms) 11:21. 2. F, Nelson (Harms, Toninato) 14:01.

THIRD PERIOD: 3. Y, Connor 5:21.

SAVES: F, Jensen 7-9-9 25. Y, Romeo 7-17-13 37. A: 3,239.


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548