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Forum staff reports, Published April 02 2013

Former Force players sign pro contracts

FARGO – Former Fargo Force defenseman Nate Schmidt signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals in the NHL Tuesday and will join them Wednesday for practice.

Schmidt makes it three former Force players in the last two days to sign pro contracts and fifth total behind Mike Lee and Josh Birkholz.

Former Fargo Force defenseman Luke Witkowski signed a two-year professional contract with the Tampa Bay Lighting in the NHL Monday. It was the same day that former Force forward Andy Taranto signed a contract with the Alaska Aces of the East Coast Hockey League.

Schmidt played one season for the Force during the 2009-10 season. He played in 57 games where he led defensemen in scoring with 37 points, scoring 14 goals and adding 23 assists.

Both Witkowski and Taranto played in Fargo’s inaugural season.

Taranto played in 60 games with the Force and led the team in scoring with 59 points (34 goals, 25 assists). Witkowski led the defense in scoring with six goals and 16 assists for a total of 22 points in 55 games played. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-30, the second best rating on the team that season.

Witkowski was drafted in the sixth round, 160th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He will join the Lightning’s affiliate team, the Syracuse Crunch, in the AHL this week, with his professional debut coming on Friday versus the Hershey Bears.

Taranto and the Aces just finished the regular season and look to start their playoff bid this weekend against the San Francisco Bulls.