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Force Move Into Fourth Place with OT Win Over Lancers

By Liz Knisley , 02/15/16, 9:15PM CST


Tonight the Force came off of a shutout win on Saturday night as they defeated the Youngstown Phantoms 3-0. However, tonight’s game against the Omaha Lancers did not start in their favor. Brannon McManus was credited with the first goal of the game, which was also the Lancer’s first shot on goal just two and half minutes in. McManus’ goal was messily tossed in front of the net, bounced off of a player, and into the net past Fargo goaltender Robbie Beydoun. The Force held the Lancers off for the remainder of the first and entered into the second down 1-0. 

The game turned around for the Force in the second period. At 11:03, Blake Lizotte assisted by Hank Crone and Denis Smirnov, scored a goal on the power play to tie up the game. With that assist Denis Smirnov became just the 5th player in Tier 1 history to have three consecutive 40-point seasons.  Shortly after at 14:13 Hank Crone slammed the puck past Omaha’s goaltender Kris Oldham, assisted by Evan Bell, giving the Force a 2-1 lead over the third ranked team in the Western Conference. To the Force’s dismay with 1:26 to go in the third the Lancers notched two back-to-back goals, by Johan Steen and Jake Massie to take back the lead 3-2.

 Ryan Wischow entered in net in place of Robbie Beydoun to start out the final period. The third was back and forth with even shots and powerful attacks on both nets. When it looked like the Force may fall to the Lancers Hank Crone, assisted by Niko Hildenbrand, notched his second goal and third point of the game tying it up with less than three minutes to go in regulation.

The Force and the Lancers entered into a four-on-four seven minute overtime, where after the four minute mark, they knock it down to three-on-three. With one minute left in overtime Niko Hildenbrand passed to Jere Astren who sniped a one-timer past the Lancers’ goalie to win the game, upsetting the third ranked Omaha Lancers.

Head coach Cary Eades acknowledged that there were several ebbs and flows in tonight’s game and that it was a continuous battle all the way until the very end. Cary also recognized how key the players who have been added to the roster throughout the season have added to the success of the team. Eades also stated how important it has been that the original players have been very welcoming of the new players and that they have made them feel like they belong from day one. The Force are now tied for fourth place in the Western Conference with the Waterloo Black Hawks.

The Force are on the road this upcoming weekend as they take on Sioux City Feb. 19 and Sioux Falls on Feb. 20. They will be back at Scheels Arena on February 26th and 27th as they take on Lincoln for College Night and Youth Hockey Night. Get your tickets at the Scheels Arena box office Monday through Friday from 11am-6pm or at