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Eric Peterson, Published October 11 2013

Kivihalme scores winning goal for Force in shootout

FARGO – Teemu Kivihalme did what five other players before him were unable to do Friday night at Scheels Arena – find the net in the shootout.

Kivihalme’s score lifted the Fargo Force to a 3-2 shootout victory against Des Moines in United States Hockey League play before 3,346 fans.

“That was probably my first game, that mattered, shootout goal,” Kivihalme said with a smile.

All three Des Moines players in the shootout were unable to get the puck past Force goalie Brendan Jensen. The first two Force shooters were unable to sneak the puck past Buccaneers goalie Ryan Ruck.

“If it wasn’t for Jensen, one goal wouldn’t have been enough,” Force coach John Marks said. “He was solid.”

Jensen finished with a game-high 34 saves.

The Force (3-2) have won two consecutive games. They hadn’t played at Scheels Arena since a 3-2 season-opening victory against Sioux Falls on Sept. 20.

“Doing for the fans, too, they haven’t watched us in a while and it is awesome coming back to our home barn,” Kivihalme said. “It’s our house.”

Marks wasn’t pleased with the way his team executed against the Buccaneers. Des Moines had a 36-31 edge in shots. All four goals scored in regulation came on power plays.

“We had half the team working hard and the other half not,” Marks said. “Two points in October are just as important as March. I’m not happy with the way we played, but we got two points.”

The Force built a 2-0 lead in the second period after center Christian Cakebread scored at the 2:21 mark. Gage Torrel scored the Force’s first goal off a deflection at 7:56 of the first period.

The Buccaneers, however, rallied. They got a goal from Josh Couturier in the second period to cut the Force lead to one goal. Des Moines defenseman Garret Cockerill’s goal made it 2-2 at 7:38 of the third period.

The score remained that way until the shootout.

“I definitely think we have character,” Kivihalme said. “We definitely kept plugging away.”

On his shootout goal, Kivihalme faked a shot with his backhand before slipping the puck into the net with his forehand. The crowd erupted after they realized the puck had found the net.

“I definitely think we have something special here,” Kivihalme said.

Marks is satisfied his team has won three of its first five games this season with a roster that is filled with newcomers.

“Right now they are squeezing the stick so hard they are putting an imprint on the aluminum shaft,” Marks said. “We’ve got to relax.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, FF, Torrel (Kivihalme, Beaulieu) 7:56 (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 2, FF, Cakebread (Beaulieu) 1:21 (pp). 3, DM, Couturier (Cockerill, Nong-Lambert) 5:04 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 4, DM, Cockerill (Nong-Lambert, Godbout) 7:38 (pp).

OVERTIME: no scoring.

SHOOTOUT: DM (none), FF (Kivihalme).

SAVES: DM, Ruck 10-8-6-4-28. FF, Jensen 10-10-11-3-34.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com