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Chris Murphy, Published October 23 2013

Force goalie Johnson has stood up to deluge of shots so far this season

Fargo - Fargo Force goalie Cam Johnson wanted to add something to spruce up his goalie mask before the United States Hockey League season started, so he went to his computer and searched “Force” to see what pictures popped up. Darth Vader appeared.

“I was never really a ‘Star Wars’ fan,” Johnson said. “I just liked the picture. We don’t really have a logo for our team, and I wanted to incorporate something cool.”

Whatever works for the University of North Dakota commit, who will head to UND after this season.

“Hopefully the force is with him,” Force coach John Marks said. “I wish the Force would get in front of him.”

Fargo goalies have seen 255 shots in the team’s seven games, which is more than 36 shots a game. The Force have only mustered 162 shots, which is the second lowest in the USHL, tying for a league-low nine goals.

“We’ve been giving up too many shots, and that’s one of the reasons we’re not scoring,” Marks said. “Right now, there’s a lot of pressure on our goaltenders to try to keep the opposition off the scoreboard, because we aren’t scoring. It’s like a pitcher that doesn’t have any run support.”

Outside of talking about a Detroit Tigers loss, it is impossible to tell whether Johnson is having the worst day of his life or if he just won the lottery. He grew up in Troy, Mich., but has the laid-back demeanor of someone from the opposite side of the country.

“Cam has become a professional,” Marks said. “He takes a lot of pride in his performance. He may not show it on the outside because of his demeanor. Things don’t seem to bother him on the outside, but inside he’s probably grinding a little bit. Goalies don’t like getting scored on.”

Johnson has seen 146 shots – 14 of which have gotten by him – in his four games in net for Fargo so far this season. His goals against average is currently at 3.50 with a .904 save percentage, after putting up a 2.40 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in eight playoff games last season to help lead the Force to the Clark Cup finals. As with most things, Johnson is not worried about the amount of shots coming his way or the Force’s 3-4 record heading into Friday’s game against 7-4-1 Team USA at Scheels Arena.

“We got a new team this year and it’s early, so I’m not going to make any judgments yet,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen our fair share of rubber thus far, but I think we’ll improve.”

It’s not that he doesn’t understand the pressure of his position. That’s what brought him between the pipes in second grade, and he hasn’t left since.

“There’s something about the pressure that I love because you can be the big-time player or you could potentially be the problem,” Johnson said. “Other players don’t realize how lucky they have it. If they make a mistake it’s fine, but if we do, it ends up on the scoreboard.”

Johnson remembers skating for the first time when he was 3 years old thanks to his dad’s love of hockey, but he has a short memory when it comes to giving up goals.

“He has an ability to forget about the last shot and the last goal and prepare for the next one,” Marks said. “That’s a good mindset to have for a goalie. You can’t dwell on the one that got by you. You have to prepare for the next one.”

Johnson may be quick to forget goals scored on him, but he’ll never forget the goals he has.

“I would have never thought in a million years I would have been going to a school like UND,” Johnson said. “It just shows if you work hard and stay dedicated, you could accomplish anything that you want.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548