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Chris Murphy, Published December 21 2012

Force make it four straight wins

FARGO – Fargo Force goalie Brendan Jensen didn’t do anything out of the ordinary Friday until he put on his goalie mask and stopped 25 Cedar Rapids shots.

Jensen’s shutout helped push the Force’s season-high winning streak to four games with a 3-0 win in United States Hockey League action at Scheels Arena.

“Didn’t eat anything special this morning or really do anything out of the ordinary,” Jensen said. “We played great defense tonight, and there were a few breakdowns, but I just stayed composed and blocked some shots. I think everyone in our locker room has come together to play a full 60 minutes now.”

There’s not much Fargo can ask Santa for Christmas, as the Force are currently one of the hottest teams in the USHL. The Force came into Friday’s matchup two points out of first place in the Western Conference after winning six of eight games. Friday’s win put the Force at 8-2-2 in the team’s last 12 games.

Jensen played a big part Friday, stopping eight shots on goal in the final five minutes of the second period and stopping three shots on a Cedar Rapids’ power play early in the third period to keep momentum on the side of the Force (14-8-5).

“Everything has come together as a whole,” Jensen said. “We’re no longer playing as individuals. Now, if we just get one and hunker down, we’re fine. That’s all we needed tonight.”

Dave Gust netted his 13th goal of the season on an assist from Gabe Guertler less than five minutes into the game and 23 seconds into the first power play to make it 1-0 Fargo.

In the second period, Dominic Toninato found Brendan Harms in the slot and, after a pad save by Cedar Rapids goalie Steve Michalek, Harms stuffed home a second chance to give Fargo a 2-0 cushion heading into the final frame.

“We lost a lot of one-goal games early on,” Harms said. “Lately we’ve just been coming out on top in those close games. We’ve been having really good third periods, and our goalies have been great.”

Fargo let just five shots on net in the third period, three of which came on a power play for Cedar Rapids (11-12-3). Harms added another goal on an empty net with 15 seconds left to seal things.

“Jensen saved our bacon a couple times in the second period,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “If this were six weeks ago, I’d be happy with this game. Now, I expect more out of our players. I expect us to play more consistent, hard-nosed hockey all the time. Hopefully we’ll play better (tonight).”

Fargo is back in action tonight, taking on Tri-City at 7:05 p.m. at Scheels Arena.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. F, Gust (Guertler), 4:20 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 2. F. Harms (Toninato) 5:01.

THIRD PERIOD: 3. F, Harms, 19:45 (en).

SAVES: F, Jensen 10-10-5 25 saves. C, Michalek 11-9-8 28 saves.

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