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Chris Murphy, Published April 12 2013

Musketeers roll past Force

FARGO – They had won seven of nine, they clinched second place in the Western Conference and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, so they were due for a hiccup. With first place out of reach, Friday’s first game of the final two versus Sioux City to close out the regular season didn’t exactly mean much.

Just don’t tell that to Fargo coach John Marks after Sioux City walloped the Force 7-1 in front of 4,483 at Scheels Arena.

“It was an awful performance,” Marks said. “There’s nothing we can take from it. Why don’t you ask (the players) to tell you what the damn problem was?”

There were many problems for Fargo. Seven different Sioux City players scored and 11 had points. It was the worst loss for the Force since they fell 10-3 to the same Musketeers team Feb. 8. Outside of the Feb. 8 loss and Friday’s loss, the Force have never lost a game this season by more than three goals.

“We clearly didn’t show up to this game,” Force right winger Brendan Harms said. “We obviously weren’t ready to play today.”

It didn’t take long for Sioux City (22-30-11) to get on the board, as Jake Guentzel found the back of the net 1 minutes, 33 seconds into the game. Brendan Harms tied the game on a power-play goal less than two minutes later, but the Musketeers scored six unanswered goals to close it out.

Jake Montgomery put Sioux City up 2-1 just 4:25 in the first. Kyle Schmidt made it 3-1 less than two minutes later and Jared Thomas made it 4-1 just 17 seconds after Schmidt scored. The Musketeers scored four goals on their first eight shots.

The second period wasn’t much different. Less than seven minutes into the second period Cliff Watson made it 5-1 Musketeers. A little over two minutes later, Trevor Olson joined the scoring and made it 6-1 and Avery Peterson netted the final goal about five minutes later to make it 7-1.

The Force were only outshot 33-26, but were just 1-for-6 on the power play and couldn’t overcome Sioux City’s first punch.

“The scoreboard doesn’t lie,” Harms said. “It was embarrassing. We have to play the opposite of the way we played tonight to close out the season. I don’t even know what they just did to us.”

Fargo will close out the regular season tonight at Scheels Arena versus Sioux City. Still unknown is who the Force will host Wednesday in the playoff opener at Scheels Arena.

With a win Friday, Lincoln pulled ahead of Waterloo by a point for third place in the Western Conference. The Stars have one more game tonight versus Tri-City, while the Black Hawks will take on Indiana tonight and Sunday to close out the season. The Stars own the tiebreaker with the Black Hawks thanks to a 3-1-0 head-to-head record.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, S, Guentzel (Olsson, Olson), 1:33. 2, F, Harms (Fleming, Iafallo), 3:09 (pp). 3, S, Montgomery (Heinrich, Olson) 4:25. 4, S, Schmidt (Watson, Magyar), 6:13. 5, S, Thomas (Peterson, Lampasso), 6:30.

SECOND PERIOD: 6, S, Watson, 6:25. 7, S, Olson (Thomas, Kapla), 8:36. 8, S, Peterson (Thomas, Olson), 13:39.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring

SAVES: F, Johnson 14-5-7–26. S, Hayton 8-10-7–25.

A: 4,483

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548