FARGO, N.D. — Three third-period goals for Waterloo were enough to make the difference as the Force dropped a 5-2 decision to the Black Hawks in front of 3932 fans at Scheels Arena Saturday night.
“We’ve got to start winning games in the third period,” head coach Cary Eades said. “We’ve won games in the third period all season long and right now we’re playing not to lose. It’s not a good approach to the game. We’re on our heels. Waterloo took it to us and outworked us tonight.”
Waterloo took advantage of a loose puck behind the Force net midway through the first period to take the game’s first lead. The goal by Emil Ohrvall at 11:52 of the first gave the Black Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Things looked like they were going to wrap up in the first period with Waterloo still in the lead, but the Force had other ideas. First, Ondrej Pavel took things into his own hands, quite literally, and sparked the energy on the bench with a fight against Waterloo’s Hank Sorensen.
“It was unreal,” Eades said. “He took on one of the toughest guys in the league. They had scored the first goal and almost scored the second, we were on our heels a little bit, and that really changed the momentum of the game.”
Then, with seconds to spare, the line of Hank Crone, Ben Meyers, and Aaron Huglen responded with the offense that Fargo needed. Huglen slid it behind the net to Crone, who saucered a pass into Meyers in between the hash marks to set up the game-tying goal with 2.4 seconds left in the first period. Meyers’ 28th goal of the year snaps a nine-game goal drought, his longest of the season by five games, and a five-game point drought.
The Force took their first lead of the game early in the second period when Huglen worked himself into space in front of the net and slid home a rebound for his fourth goal of the season and first since Nov. 9. It was Huglen’s fourth game back with the Force after the end of his high school season with Roseau.
In a playoff-caliber game, Waterloo wasn’t about to go away. The Black Hawks tied the game at 11:36 of the second when a shot in front deflected past Ryan Bischel in net. Bischel stopped 26 of 30 shots he faced tonight in the loss.
The Black Hawks were the better team in the third, scoring twice and adding an empty-netter to seal the win.
“We’ve got to dig down deep,” Eades said. “We’re going through some tough times, but we’ve got some head hanging in our locker that we can’t have. We’ve got to pull together, suck it up, and go get a road victory tomorrow in Sioux Falls.”
Fargo heads to Sioux Falls for a St. Patrick’s Day meeting with the Stampede tomorrow night at 5:05 p.m. inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center before returning home to Scheels Arena next weekend for a two-game series against the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Puck drop for the Friday-Saturday series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.