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Chris Murphy, Published December 13 2013

Force drop their fifth straight game in 6-1 loss to Sioux City

FARGO – Another game, another United States Hockey League defeat for the Fargo Force. The 6-1 loss to Sioux City on Friday at Scheels Arena made it five losses in a row and the seventh loss in the last eight games for the Force, dropping them to a league-worst 5-16-2.

Fargo coach John Marks has run out of things to say.

“What can you say?” Marks said. “Sioux City doesn’t do anything special. Our guys just don’t do what I ask them to do. Play your position, get it up, get it in, play hard and move the puck. Right now, we aren’t good enough.”

Coming into Friday’s game, Fargo had given up on average over 39 shots a game during its four-game losing streak. The Force seemed to have solved that problem, giving up only eight shots on goal in the first period. Problem was finding the back of the net and the Force only got six shots on goal.

“Bottom line is, we aren’t skilled enough,” Marks said. “You play 23 games and you only score 35 goals, obviously, you aren’t skilled enough. Other teams get opportunities, they bury them. We don’t.”

Joe Snively punched home a rebound off a Jared Thomas shot over a minute into Sioux City’s first power play to put the Musketeers up 1-0 less than seven minutes into the game.

No goal sums up the Fargo season more than Jake Montgomery’s goal with 20 seconds left in the first period that gave Sioux City a 2-0 cushion. Montgomery sent a soft and seemingly harmless shot toward Force goalie Cam Johnson with time running out in the period. Johnson had it lined up with the glove, but just whiffed. It hit the tip of the glove, the post and went in much to the amazement of the 3,324 at Scheels Arena.

“Poor Cam,” Marks said. “That was a soft, soft shot and he just fanned it. There’s nothing else you can say.”

It got worse. On a Fargo power play, a bounce off the boards went directly to Montgomery, and he was gone with a shot at Johnson. He made it count, pushing the Musketeers lead to 3-0 with the short-handed goal. Fargo got a power play minutes after Montgomery’s goal, 49 seconds of which was a 5-on-3 advantage for the Force. The Force could only muster up three shots.

Less than two minutes after killing the penalty, Adam Johnson had a breakaway off a Force turnover. Cam Johnson stopped Adam Johnson’s shot and Brandon Hawkins’ rebound, but could not stop Kyle Schmidt’s shot and it was 4-0.

“We talked about playing well defensively, doing your job defensively and playing your position defensively and we give up easy goals,” Marks said. “Cam made the first save, Cam made the second save and their third guy comes in and knocks it in because our guys are not doing their job.”

The lone bright spot for Fargo came 28 seconds later when Cody Longie netted his first USHL goal.

“We weren’t fired up,” Longie said. “We just need to all be on the same page and do the systems right. (First USHL goal) feels good, but it didn’t really help the team that much.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, S, Snively (Thomas, Heinrich), 6:44, (pp). 2, S, Montgomery, 19:40.

SECOND PERIOD: 3, S, Montgomery, 2:10, (sh). 4, S, Schmidt (Hawkins, Johnson), 7:43. 5, F, Longie, 8:11.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, S, Snively (Heinrich), 2:39. 7, S, Hawkins (Snively), 11:57.

SAVES: S, Hayton 6-8-7–21. F, Johnson 6-16-8–30

A: 3,324

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548