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FORCE HOLD OFF GAMBLERS FOR WIN

By Eli Swanson, 01/04/19, 10:30PM CST

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FARGO, N.D. — The Force came from behind twice in Friday night’s game against the Green Bay Gamblers and scored four straight goals over the final two periods for a 5-3 win in front of 3103 fans at Scheels Arena.

 

Two goals for Ross Mitton and a record-breaking tally for Hank Crone powered Fargo to its 15th win of the season.

 

“It was a good hockey game and both teams were working,” head coach Cary Eades said. “We stopped on some pucks, got after it on our forecheck, and buried some chances. I was happy how we reacted to being down in the first and then played a strong third period not to sit on the lead but build on it.”

 

After a centering pass bounced off the skate of a Force defender into the net to give the Gamblers an early lead, the Force tied it on a jam play at the side of the net from Ross Mitton.

 

Mitton batted a rebound underneath the Green Bay goaltender to tie the score at a goal apiece midway through the first period. The Copiague, NY native’s fourth goal of the year was assisted by Colin Ugbekile and Tyler Gratton.

 

A power-play goal in the latter half of the first period gave the visitors the lead back, but it took less than two minutes of the second period for the Force to answer back.

 

It was Mitton again, this time with a one-timer from the slot that beat the Gamblers' goalie through the five-hole, at 1:47 of the second period to tie the game at two. The two-goal performance was the first of Mitton’s USHL career. Tyler Gratton and Michael Mancinelli picked up helpers on the goal.

 

“Mitt’s a force out there,” Eades said. “He’s real heavy. He’s getting pucks to the net and he’s going to score a lot of his goals from the hashmarks on in. I thought his linemates, Mancinelli and Gratton, played well tonight. We need some scoring from other people and they provided it tonight.”

 

Seven minutes later it was Hank Crone with a perfect shot from the slot off a feed from Ben Meyers for his ninth goal of the season and 48th of his Force career. Crone passed Denis Smirnov (14-16) for the all-time Force goalscoring record with the tally.

 

The Dallas, Texas native now holds the Force career records for goals, assists, and points.

 

AJ Drobot and Ben Meyers each added goals in the third period to stretch the Force lead to three goals. Meyers extended his point streak to nine games with a two-point performance tonight.

 

Green Bay got a goal back late, but the Force held on to take the full two points from tonight’s contest.

 

With the win the Force climb to 15-10-3 for the year and sit two points behind the Sioux City Musketeers for fourth place in the Western Conference. Fargo wraps up the weekend and season series against Green Bay tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.

 

“We restart tomorrow,” Eades said. “It’s an important two points for both teams and they’ll play hard for them just like we will.”