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Chris Murphy, Published March 16 2013

Buccaneers top Force 3-2 in a shootout

FARGO – There’s no answer for a goalie turned brick wall in hockey. Fargo found that out Saturday, as the Force fell 3-2 in a shootout in United States Hockey League action to Des Moines in front of 3,540 at Scheels Arena.

It didn’t matter it was the second-place Fargo versus seventh-place Des Moines in the Western Conference. It didn’t matter the Force outshot the Buccaneers

48-27. It didn’t matter the Force had four power plays. All that mattered was Nick Ellis was between the pipes stopping 46 shots in regulation and all three Force attempts in the shootout.

“The one guy you have a tough time controlling in hockey is the goalie,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “I’ve been around a lot of games where one team doubled up other teams on shots and lost the hockey game because of that one guy. We had pucks rolling around in the crease and just missing the net or we tried to be too fancy in front of him.”

With 14.1 seconds left in the game and Fargo (33-16-7) trailing 2-1, Gavin Bayreuther heard his Force teammate Taylor Fleming calling for the puck in the corner. Good thing he didn’t listen. Bayreuther blasted the tying goal into the back of the net to give the Force a much-needed point. If anyone was going to find a weak point on Ellis, it would have been Bayreuther, who played against him last season in prep school.

“I was so close to passing the puck,” Bayreuther said. “In this time of the year, every single point matters. Ellis is a great goalie. He came to play.”

Just as Des Moines (22-30-3) had done Friday versus Fargo, the Buccaneers opened up the scoring less than three minutes into the game off the stick of Joseph Gambardella to take a 1-0 lead. Austin Ortega tied things up off a great feed from Chris Dienes early in the second period. The Buccaneers took a 2-1 lead thanks to Axel Wemmenborn with just under nine minutes to go in the game before Bayreuther tied the game.

In the shootout, Luke Voltin’s shot was stopped initially by Fargo goaltender Cam Johnson, but the puck trickled by him for the lone goal in the shootout. Shots by Ortega, Dominic Toninato and Dave Gust were turned away by Ellis in the shootout.

A Sioux Falls (80 points) win pushed their lead over Fargo (73) to seven points for top spot in the Western Conference. Lincoln (69) picked up a point on the Force with a victory to pull within four points of the Force with Waterloo (65) holding the final playoff spot by one point over Omaha (64). The top two teams in the conference get home ice for the first round of the playoffs.

At a time in the season where every point counts, Fargo was seconds away from getting none and a trickled puck away from perhaps getting two.

“Sometimes you play well and you don’t win,” Marks said. “Fortunately, we got a point because it could turn out to be a big point. We’ll find out when 64 games are over.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. D, Gambardella (Schueneman) 3:49.

SECOND PERIOD: 2. F, Ortega (Dienes) 2:24.

THIRD PERIOD: 3. Wemmenborn (Elser, Thomas) 11:09. 4. F, Bayreuther (Toninato, Harms) 19:46.

SHOOTOUT: 5. D, Voltin. SAVES: F, Johnson 10-5-11-1 26 saves. D, Ellis 17-13-15-1 46 saves. A: 3,540.


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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548