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Chris Murphy, Published April 22 2013

Force look to avoid making team history

FARGO – No Fargo team has had a player with more points in the regular season than forwards Dominic Toninato and Brendan Harms, who both finished with 70. No Force team has had a player with more assists in the regular season than Harms’ 45 this season. No Force team has won more games or had more points than this season’s team, which finished with 38 wins and 83 points.

Now, Fargo is one loss away from becoming first-timers in something they don’t want: The first Force team to lose a first-round Clark Cup playoff series.

For a team that had never lost a first-round game in four playoff appearances coming into this season, it’s not exactly the kind of history they were looking to make.

“It wouldn’t feel very good,” Harms said. “We haven’t been in this situation before, but we aren’t thinking about that. We’re thinking about getting the win and moving on.”

Fargo trails Waterloo 2-1 in a best-of-5 series with Game 4 coming tonight in Waterloo. A loss ends the Force’s season. A win means the Force would host a fifth and deciding game Wednesday at Scheels Arena.

Waterloo has scored five goals on 13 power-play chances in the three games. Three times, the Black Hawks have scored when the power play was over, but before the Fargo skater barely had time to put a blade on the ice out of the penalty box.

In Game 3, Waterloo scored two power-play goals and two goals came just seconds after their power play ended. Fargo had 35 penalty minutes, including a

5-minute major and game misconduct on a hit on Waterloo’s Zach Stepan. Hard to believe, despite all of that, the Force had a 4-3 lead with just over 6 minutes to go.

“We’ve had to come back in games and we’ve done it, so we’re just thinking of it like that,” Harms said. “We need to try and stay out of the penalty box. They’ve capitalized on power plays. They’ve all been close games so far. Any of them could have gone either way.”

According to Waterloo coach, P.K. O’Handley, Stepan – third on the Black Hawks in the regular season with 78 points – is doubtful for tonight’s game with an upper body injury.

“We can’t dwell on what isn’t there,” O’Handley said. “We have to worry about what’s in the room and we feel that we have capable players that are dressing. It’s a chance for a new guy to step up.”

As for history, that’s exactly what it is in Fargo’s state of mind, whether it’s making more of it or putting Game 2 and Game 3 out of their heads.

“We’ve been playing pretty good hockey,” Fargo defenseman Taylor Fleming said. “There’s not a lot we can do with stuff that hasn’t gone our way. You think about the things you could have done better after the game for a little bit, but then you let it go and forget about it. You live to fight another day and come back and do better.

“I don’t want to even think about losing right now. Everyone thinks we can battle back and bring it home to Fargo for Game 5.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548