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Chris Murphy, Published September 20 2013

Force open season with a 3-2 win over Sioux City

FARGO – Fargo Force center Christian Cakebread has heard every joke in the book about his last name, so he’s really grown immune to it all.

On Friday, in the United States Hockey League opener for Fargo in front of 3,395 at Scheels Arena, Cakebread had his cake and netted two in a 3-2 win.

“(Last name) comes from England,” Cakebread said. “They were bakers for the royal family and one went to California and the other went to Canada. There’s a lot of jokes out there.”

Cakebread had the first laugh Friday in his USHL debut, scoring on a redirect from Tanner Jago on the power play 8 minutes, 31 seconds into the season. Sioux City answered with a power-play goal of its own off the stick of Brandon Hawkins to tie it barely over four minutes later.

Sioux City took the lead one minute into the second period and just 20 seconds after the Force failed to score on their fourth power play. Cakebread answered again on a puck that seemed to float into the net with 5:21 left in the second and with the Force 35 seconds away from falling 1-for-5 on the power play.

“I just tried to quick release it, and it just ended up fluttering into the net,” Cakebread said. “The speed of the game is much faster, but I’m working on getting used to it.”

Cakebread came to the Force from Arizona, so the weather will take some getting used to, but the USHL game came to him quickly Friday. On a Force team returning just 14 of its 265 goals from last season, Cakebread could be the best thing to come to Fargo since sliced bread.

“We’ll find out where the goals are going to come from,” Fargo coach John Marks said. “He’s one of them. We’ve got guys that are going to contribute. We’re going to need to grow some whiskers, but it was nice to get a big win against a good team.”

With only six players returning from last year’s Force team, there were a lot of USHL debuts. Mason Morelli made the most of his, picking up the game winner on the Force’s third power-play goal in six opportunities with the extra man 53 seconds into the third. Morelli, a Minot, N.D., native, can focus on getting used to the game rather than the weather of Fargo.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” Morelli said. “It was on the power play, and Phil Beaulieu made a nice pass to me and (Garrick) Gray and Cakebread were out in front of the net and they were all a huge part of that goal.”

Friday wasn’t all about debuts. On a night when last season’s Western Conference championship banner was debuted to the crowd at Scheels Arena, the Force wouldn’t have come away with a win without a big part of that banner in goalie Cam Johnson. Johnson made 31 saves, including 13 in the final period thanks in large part to three Force penalties.

“We learned that our team has heart after battling back when they got a quick one in the second,” Johnson said. “As a goalie, you have to be your best penalty killer. We were taking some penalties there that we shouldn’t have, but I just battled to give my team a chance to win.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Cakebread (Jago), 8:31 (pp). 2, S, Hawkins (Plitt), 12:38 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 3, S, Thomas (Hawkins), 1:00 (pp). 4, F, Cakebread (akaibilsm, , 16:04 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 5, F, Morelli (Kivihalme, Beaulieu), 0:53 (pp).

SAVES: F, Johnson 12-6-13–31. S, Hayton 8-6-4–18.

A: 3,395

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