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Chris Murphy, Published April 13 2013

Force end the regular season on a sour note

FARGO – The bad news is Fargo dropped back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 2 and Feb. 8 after a 3-1 loss to Sioux City in the regular-season finale Saturday in front of 4,784 at Scheels Arena. The good news is the Force never have to see the Musketeers or goalie Kyle Hayton again this season.

Sioux City (23-30-11) outscored Fargo 10-2 in Friday and Saturday’s games, the Force were 2-for-12 on the power play and Hayton stopped 59 of the 61 shots that came his way in the two games.

“Some guys just aren’t doing what I’ve been telling them to do and they’ve been playing like that for a while,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “They capitalized on what they got and we didn’t capitalize on what we got.”

As opposed to scoring on its first shot of the game, as Sioux City did Friday, the Musketeers waited a bit and found the back of the net on their second shot of the game Saturday. Jared Thomas netted a goal a little over six minutes into the game to put the Musketeers up 1-0. Exactly five minutes later, Cedric Lacroix made it 2-0 Musketeers and it looked as though things would spin out of control quickly, as they did in the 7-1 loss Friday.

Gavin Bayreuther’s slapper from the point cut the Sioux City lead to 2-1 less than three minutes into the second, but the Force (38-19-7) would get no closer. The games Friday and Saturday meant nothing for the standings, but momentum will have to be regained quickly for the Force with the playoffs starting Wednesday.

“This weekend we just played sloppy,” Bayreuther said. “We didn’t play with enough focus and I don’t think we cared enough. When it comes down to it, if we just play our game, we’ll be set. These games didn’t mean anything in the standings, but it’s still not how you wanted to end your season.”

Just over 10 minutes after Bayreuther cut the Sioux City lead to one, Jake Guentzel fired in a power-play goal to put the Musketeers up 3-1. The Force would not score again, even with a four-minute power play in the third period. Hayton was a brick wall for the Musketeers, stopping 34 of the 35 shots that came his way.

“Basically, we need to just play as a team, which we didn’t do tonight,” Bayreuther said. “If we just come together, we should be all right.”

Fargo will have to wait until today to find out who they will host Wednesday in the first round of the United States Hockey League playoffs. Waterloo and Lincoln both won games Saturday, so currently the Stars are up a point on the Black Hawks for third place. If the Black Hawks win today, they will take third place and play the Force Wednesday. The Stars own the tiebreaker, so the Black Hawks need two points to jump the Stars in the standings.

“Both teams are quality teams, so either way we will have to play our game,” Bayreuther said.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, S, Thomas (Peterson), 6:19. 2, S, Lacroix, 11:19.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, F, Bayreuther (Fleming, Harms), 2:27 (pp). 4, S, Guentzel (Henry, Pionk), 10:40 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: no scoring

SAVES: F, Jensen 10-5-6–21. S, Hayton 11-13-10–34.

A: 4,784

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548