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Chris Murphy, Published February 01 2013

Power plays bite Force in loss to Lancers

FARGO – Apparently it’s comfortable in the penalty box when Omaha and Fargo face off.

Before Friday’s game, the last time Fargo and Omaha squared off there were 17 penalties for 46 minutes dished out. The two teams amounted to more than half of that in the first period of Friday’s game, but the Lancers made them count, knocking off the Force 4-2 in United States Hockey League play in front of the third straight sellout at Scheels Arena.

“In the first 10 minutes of the game, I think there was at least five penalties called, and I think three were against us,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “Every year you’ll find a team that’s hard to beat. They’ve gotten 10 points on us, and we’ve only gotten six points off them. (Tonight’s) game becomes even more epic.”

The loss puts Fargo (24-12-5) at 16-6 in its last 22 games, with three of those losses coming to Omaha.

“It’s hard to win hockey games when you’re penalty killing all game,” Fargo right winger Brendan Harms said. “They have our number right now, and we need to change that (tonight versus Omaha).”

Twenty-four penalty minutes were handed out in the first period. Somehow, neither team scored on the power play, but Tyler Moy opened the scoring with a shot just inside the blue line that seemed like a shot in the dark that snuck under the glove of Force goalie Cameron Johnson with just over three minutes remaining in the first. Michael Booth sent home a rebound off a shot from Matt Pohlkamp to tie the game 1-1 with 65 seconds left in the first.

“The first goal they got was kind of a lucky goal,” Marks said. “I don’t know if Cam lost it in the crowd, because it was way up in the air and because he ended up acting like it was over his shoulder.”

A team can only play short-handed for so long. Three seconds after killing the fifth Omaha power play, former Fargo captain Dominic Racobaldo banked it off Johnson to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead. Four minutes later, Omaha (24-17-0) scored its first goal in six tries on the power play off the stick of Robbie Baillargeon.

“The second goal the guy banked off (Cam Johnson) at the goal line,” Marks said. “That’s a bad goal by Cam. You can’t give up those goals. They got a fortunate goal, a goal our goaltender stopped and the third goal (Gabe) Guertler had it all by himself on the penalty kill, all he has to do is fire it down, he doesn’t fire it done, gets his pocket picked and gets scored on. They got three goals they never should have scored.”

Dominic Toninato made it a 3-2 game with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game, but Omaha goalie Alex Lyon made 14 of his 37 saves in the third period, including a blast off the stick of Chris Dienes with 13.7 seconds left seal it. Drew Melanson added the empty netter with 2 seconds left to slam the door.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. O, Moy (Folin) 16:55. 2. F, Booth (Pohlkamp, Dienes) 18:55.

SECOND PERIOD: 3. O, Racobaldo 7:30. 4. O, Baillargeon (Randolph, Cahtham), pp, 11:26.

THIRD PERIOD: 5. F, Toninato (Harms) 11:40. 6. O, Melanson, empty net, 19:58.

SAVES: F, Johnson 10-11-11 32 saves. O, Lyon 10-13-14 37 saves.

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548