Chris Murphy, Published March 27 2013
No hard feelings for new Force teammatesFargo - It was just 21 days ago when Phil Beaulieu’s assist was sending Duluth East to the semifinals in the Minnesota Class 2A hockey tournament – ending the state title dreams of Moorhead’s Aaron Herdt.
Herdt had one final chance to find the equalizer in that game in the closing seconds, but before he could fire a shot with traffic in front, the final horn sounded and Moorhead’s chance at a state championship was over in a 1-0 loss.
Now, Herdt and Beaulieu are working together to help the Fargo Force junior hockey team in their final six games in the United States Hockey League.
Beaulieu keeps it simple when deciding where his allegiance stands.
“Enemies when we play each other, friends when we play together,” Beaulieu said.
Herdt holds no hard feelings toward his new USHL teammate.
“It’s fun,” Herdt said. “I talked to him at the state banquet and he knew he was getting the call up, but I wasn’t sure I was. It worked out pretty well. We just laugh about it now.”
Athletes have an exclusive fraternity with a shared respect for one another. Until, of course, the scoreboard starts ticking.
“He’s a really good guy,” Beaulieu said. “We laughed about it at state and how fun it was to play in front of 17,000 fans. We’re really good friends. We’ve played other things together in the summer. We were still friends on the ice, but you can’t be like, ‘Oh, here’s the puck. Go ahead and score.’”
Beaulieu and Herdt now have a common bond in transferring from the high school game to the junior hockey circuit together at the same time. Wearing the same uniform is just icing on the cake.
“It’s definitely a different pace with bigger guys that are more skilled,” Beaulieu said of the USHL game. “You got to come ready to play every game. It’s a lot more competitive and it’s a day-to-day grind. I like it.”
Herdt has played in five games and Beaulieu has played in four games. Herdt hasn’t gotten a point, but Beaulieu notched an assist in a 6-3 win over Des Moines in his first game.
“It’s a lot faster, obviously,” Herdt said. “Guys are a lot more physical. They are always coming at you and your time and space is very limited. You have to make decisions much quicker than you had to in high school.
“I’ve been around the camps and stuff like that. I knew what to expect, but it’s always different when you’re actually out there. It’s very fast, very physical and you got to really make your plays quick.”
With six games remaining, Fargo is up 12 points on Omaha, which is one point out of the playoffs in fifth place. The Force are a point or an Omaha loss away from clinching a playoff spot, but want first-round home ice. That would require a first or second-place finish in the Western Conference. The Force are nine points out of first, but six points above Lincoln in second place.
Fargo heads to Des Moines Friday and Waterloo Saturday before coming home April 5 for its final game versus the top team in the Western Conference in Sioux Falls. After heading to Sioux City for a game April 6, the Force close out the regular season with back-to-back home games versus the Musketeers April 12 and April 13.
The Force are three wins away from their best record in team history and Dominic Toninato is one point away from being the all-time scoring leader in team history.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548