SIOUX CITY | The Force wasn’t with Fargo Friday night but it certainly was Saturday.
Lincoln’s 3-0 triumph marked the first time the Western Conference-leading Fargo Force had been blanked this season. Considering the firepower that features three of the United States Hockey League’s top scorers, shutouts just aren’t acceptable for a team that’s second in the league with 55 goals.
Nicholas Cardelli and the USHL’s top scorer, Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (13 goals, 5 assists), scored back-to-back goals 47 seconds apart late in the first period. Ben Meyers sent Sioux City Musketeers goaltender Matt Jurusik to the showers on a goal which gave Fargo a four-goal lead with nine minutes left in the second period en route to a 5-1 triumph at the Tyson Events Center.
Schmidt-Svejstrup, a 19-year old native of Charlottenlund, Denmark, had entered Ice Box Arena with an 11-game scoring streak, the USHL’s longest thus far. His goal for a 2-0 lead with 3:53 remaining until the first intermission gave him two goals and two assists against Sioux City this season.
“I thought we had good traffic in front of the net and played with a lot of speed towards the net,” said Fargo Coach Cary Eades. “We were hungry. The score wasn’t really indicative of the game. I thought (goaltender) Strauss Mann played really well, especially early. We had to find our legs and we frustrated Sioux City time and time again. It was much closer than the final outcome.”
Mann (5-0) came within two minutes of posting his second shutout. Mann, who has appeared in each of the three meetings against Sioux City this season, yielded Micah Miller’s first goal of the season with 1:48 remaining in the contest.
Sioux City (4-7-2) was unable to build on the momentum of Friday’s 2-1 shootout win over Madison. Coach Luke Strand’s squad outshot Fargo (10-4-2) much of the night, building a 9-6 margin in that department halfway through the opening period.
“I liked the beginning of the game,” said Strand. “I thought we had our moments before that first goal against us. I thought we had some good energy going and good space. We played a first-place team that once they got that momentum for themselves, after losing themselves last night 3-0, they basically shoved it down our throat.
“It’s a winning business. So when you don’t win, it’s an angry day. We have to learn to follow up a win with a win.”
If there was a chance for the USHL’s lowest-scoring team (25 goals) to launch a comeback, it had to start in the second period. Odds were favorable for that to happen since Fargo had been outscored 20-16 in the middle stanza this season, which included Lincoln’s two goals Friday night.
Fargo didn’t keep that trend intact at the Tyson. The league’s second-ranked power play at 31.5 percent (17 goals in 54 attempts) was blanked in a third-period chance, but its penalty kill improved to 80.8 percent (55 of 68) as it silenced Sioux City on each of its three power-play chances, including twice in the second period.
Headed into Thanksgiving week and Black Friday’s home game against Tri-City, Sioux City has yet to win a game in regulation. Strand’s squad, 2-1 in shootouts and 2-1 in overtime, hasn’t been blanked in 13 games, but has been held to one goal six times.
“We have guys who have pointed in the past who have not pointed per se,” said Strand. “We have guys who have pointing expectations who have not pointed. At the end of the day, you have to be committed to those easy ones or the ones that used to go in at the levels where you are at aren’t gamers any more. You have to earn those.”