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Chris Murphy, Published February 22 2013

Stampede roll over Force 6-3

FARGO – There was no need for scoreboard watching Friday, as the ice at Scheels Arena had the only game that mattered to the Fargo Force. In second place and up five points on both Omaha and Lincoln, the Force had their eyes on the one team above them in the conference standings: Sioux Falls.

The Stampede showed why they’re in that position, knocking off the Force 6-3 and increasing their first-place cushion to five points.

“Their goalie outplayed our goalie,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “Our goalie didn’t play very well, and we turned the puck over in bad places. We gave them everything they got.”

Fargo’s Austin Ortega somehow found an angle from the side of the net to sneak in a goal 4 minutes, 13 seconds into the third period to tie the game 3-3. Sioux Falls answered right back, scoring 26 seconds later on a goal from Sam Rothstein before Ortega’s goal could be announced to the 4,229 in attendance. The Stampede netted two more to seal it.

“We didn’t really come ready to play,” Ortega said. “They outworked us the whole time. We didn’t match their intensity and that’s what caused us to get dominated so much. The only thing we need to do is want it more than they do and work harder. They came out and hit harder and it’s something we need to bring more next time.”

Sioux Falls (32-12-2) dominated the opening period, netting two goals and killing all but 16 seconds of two Fargo (28-15-5) penalties handily. Less than four minutes into the game, Rothstein lit the lamp on a redirect off a shot from Thomas Forgione. Less than five minutes later, Todd Skirving put the Stampede up 2-0.

There was no fire in Fargo nearly six minutes into the second period until Gabe Guertler netted a penalty shot to pull the Force within one.

With less than five minutes to go in the second period, Jared Dedenbach redirected a Chris Dienes shot into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2, heading into the third. Sioux Falls wasted little time, as Ian Mansfield scored less than two minutes into the final frame to put the Stampede up 3-2.

Oretga scored two minutes later, but the Stampede poured in three unanswered goals to seal it. Rothstein answered 26 seconds later, Tony Calderone made it 5-3 two minutes after that and Forigione put in the empty netter with 89 seconds left to slam the door.

“We didn’t come out hard in the first period like we should have and like we did in the second,” Dedenbach said. “Mental breakdowns cost us the game in the third. We need to come out every single game and every single shift and play as hard as we can. Usually, we come out strong in the third period, but today we just didn’t have it. We should have had it in this one.”

A Lincoln loss kept Fargo in the playoff field by six points and an Omaha loss kept Fargo up five points on the fourth and final playoff spot, but a win for Waterloo pulled the third-place Black Hawks within three points of the Force.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. S, Rothstein (Forgione) 3:29. 2. S, Skirving (Knutson, Schempp) 7:55.

SECOND PERIOD: 4. F, Guertler, penalty shot, 12:15. 5. F, Dedenbach (Dienes, Torrel) 15:19.

THIRD PERIOD: 5. S, Mansfield (Valesano) 2:08. 6. F, Ortega 4:13. 7. S, Rothstein (Forgione, Siiro) 6:44. 8. S, Calderone (Mansfield) 6:44. 9. S, Forgione, empty net, 18:31.

SAVES: F, Jensen 11-6-6 23 saves. S, Lindgren 7-11-12 30 saves. A: 4,229.

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548