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Chris Murphy, Published June 13 2013

Force named USHL organization of the year

FARGO – The United States Hockey League announced Thursday that the Fargo Force were named the 2012-13 USHL Organization of the Year.

“We’re thrilled,” Force GM Jon Kram said. “We’re excited that we were recognized for the hard work we’ve done on and off the ice and the loyalty the fans put in. It shows the support we have in Fargo. It’s the highest level of recognition that you can get in the league.”

In the team’s fifth season in the USHL, the Force had 124,894 fans in attendance during the regular season, which was second in the USHL. Their average of 3,902 fans per game was the highest in team history. The Force have increased attendance each season since joining the USHL in 2008 and achieved an all-time high in ticket revenue this season.

The Force saw a 32 percent increase in sponsorship revenue from the 2011-12 season to the 2012-13 season.

On the ice, the Force made it to the Clark Cup Finals for the third time in the team’s five-year history, while sending 19 players to NCAA Division I hockey teams.

“What the Force have accomplished in five short years in the USHL is nothing short of amazing,” said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince in a press release. “On the ice, they have one of the League’s best winning records. Off the ice, they’re a community leader. The game experience in Scheels Arena is outstanding, and the fans have responded. Congratulations to (owner) Ace Brandt and general manager Jon Kram on showing us all how it’s done.”

But it wasn’t all about gaining money. A lot of it was giving money back.

The Force generated more than $60,000 for local charities, including more than $25,000 raised in a player jersey auction for Sanford Health’s cancer survivorship program. The Force promoted the game of hockey with local youth programs in addition to the 580 hours of service in the community done by Force players.

“We’re a development league,” Kram said. “The hours the players put in with the community is part of the development process. We think they’ll take the idea of community with them when they go to play at the next level.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548