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Chris Murphy, Published April 19 2013

Waterloo hangs on to beat Fargo 5-4 in Game 2

FARGO – It went from embarrassing to exhilarating to heartbreaking Friday night for Fargo, as the Force dropped Game 2 of the best-of-5 first-round series in the Clark Cup playoffs 5-4 against Waterloo.

Coming back from a 5-1 deficit to lose by one could build momentum in the regular season. But in the playoffs, there’s no such thing as a good loss.

“The desperation started when we were down 5-1, not when it was 0-0,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “The game changed for us in the first period. We lost the game in the first period.”

In the regular season, Waterloo scored 26 more goals than any team in the United States Hockey League. They have the firepower to make leads disappear. Friday, the Black Hawks made Fargo’s early lead vanish.

Gavin Bayreuther’s slap shot on the power play gave Fargo a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. Then, poof, Waterloo made it and any hopes of pushing the Force’s perfect first-round playoff record to 12-0 disappear. Waterloo fired in four goals before the first period was over.

“It was just a slow start at the beginning,” Fargo forward Alex Iafallo said. “We just tried to battle back like we usually do, but we just couldn’t get it.”

The series between Fargo and Waterloo has six of the top 12 goal scorers in the United States Hockey League. Ian McCoshen, Ryan Papa, Austin Vieth and Victor Newell are not any of them, but they proved to be the difference in a win that guarantees the Black Hawks two games in front of their home crowd.

With nine minutes left in the first period, McCoshen tied the game at 1-1 five seconds into the Black Hawks’ first power play. Twenty-one seconds later, Vieth made it 2-1 and 94 seconds later Ryan Papa made it 3-1. Less than three minutes later, Newell made it 4-1.

“We made the right plays at the right time,” Waterloo coach P.K. O’Handley said. “We are two pretty even teams and we’ve battled all year long. You got two good teams going at it. I wouldn’t be shocked to see it (go) five games.”

Vieth fired in his second goal of the game less than six minutes into the second period to make it 5-1. Iafallo cut it to 5-2 with one of his three points on the night with six minutes left in the second, and Gabe Guertler netted a short-handed goal with 13 seconds left to pull the Force within two headed into the third.

Dave Gust made it a one-goal game with 6 minutes, 6 seconds to go, but the Force could not find the equalizer.

“This was a big game,” Vieth said. “It’s always good to go back to your barn and have confidence. We just have to stick to our system, play our game and we’ll be all right.”

Whether it be a heartbreaker or a blowout, Marks made it simple for what Fargo needs to do on the road at Waterloo after the Game 2 loss.

“We got to win a game,” Marks said. “It’s pretty simple. We have to go win a hockey game.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Bayreuther (Iafallo, Toninato) 3:46 (pp). 2, W, McCoshen (Stepan), 9:00 (pp). 3, W, Vieth (Salerno), 9:21. 4, W, Papa, 10:55. 5, W, Newell (Hinostraza, Friedman), 13:13.

SECOND PERIOD: 6, W, Vieth (Salerno, Stenglein), 5:16. 7, F, Iafallo (Harms, Fleming), 14:04. 8, F, Guertler (Iafallo, Gillespie), 19:47 (sh).

THIRD PERIOD: 9, F, Gust (Harms), 13:54.

SAVES: F, Jensen 12-18-5–35. W, Petersen 13-10-12–35.

A: 3,832

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