FARGO, N.D. — On Friday night the Force dominated its matchup with the Madison Capitols to the tune of a 5-1 win. It was more of the same Saturday as Fargo and Madison skated to an identical scoreline in a 5-1 win for the Force over the Capitols at Scheels Arena.
Ryan Bischel won his 19th game of the year and broke the franchise record for wins with his 40th career victory tonight.
“He’s given us the goaltending that we’ve needed to win hockey games,” head coach Cary Eades said. “That’s all you can ask out of your goaltenders. He was sharp tonight. At 2-0, they had seven or eight good scoring chances and at 3-0 they had a bunch more. He didn’t let them get on the board until late, and unfortunately that went in off one of our defenseman’s shin pad. We’re proud of him and we’re proud that the team is winning games with him in the net.”
The Force jumped out to an early lead in the first period courtesy of a power-play goal from Jeremy Davidson just over three minutes into the game. Davidson one-timed a rebound past Madison goalie Joey Lamoureaux after a shot from the point by Mike Kesselring caromed off Lamoureaux’s pad to him at the left circle. Tanner Vescio also was credited with an assist on the play.
Adam Gajarsky, playing in just his second game with the Force, chipped a shot over the right shoulder of Lamoureaux five minutes later to give Fargo a 2-0 lead before the halfway point of the first period. Libor Zabransky picked up the assist on the play to complete the all-Czech scoring play.
The goals were the first in the Black and Blue for both Davidson and Gajarsky, part of a secondary scoring group that proved itself lethal this weekend for the Force.
“We need secondary scoring,” Eades said. “That’s why we picked up [Davidson]. He’s been a little snake-bitten recently, but he does a lot more than score goals. Good to see him get one tonight and then Adam scored a nice one that ended up being the game-winning goal. Contributions from different players offensively and some more balanced scoring is what you need and that’s what led to victory tonight.”
A 14-9 shot advantage for Madison in the second period marked the first time in this weekend’s series that the Capitols outshot the Force in a period, but Fargo got the lone goal of the second on a penalty shot from Ben Meyers that he earned while on the penalty kill.
Meyers skated wide, cut in, and sniped a shot past Lamoureaux’s blocker to give the Force a 3-0 lead with four minutes left in the third. The Minnesota commit leads the USHL with 26 goals so far this season.
Not to be denied, Meyers’ linemates Hank Crone and Josh Nodler teamed up in the third period to create a goal of their own. Crone skated circles around the Capitols in the offensive zone before dishing it to Nodler in front. Nodler promptly pitched the puck into the net for his 15th goal of the year. Meyers had the second assist on the goal that put the Force up 4-0 with 13 minutes left in regulation.
Madison got a goal back in the third on a shot from the point that ricocheted off bodies in front and into the net, but the Force were able to shrug it off and complete the sweep with a solid close to the game. Cedric Fiedler iced the contest with an empty-netter in the final two seconds of the game.
The Force jump to 22-15-4 on the year and remain in fifth place in the Western Conference with 48 points. Fargo has closed the gap between itself and fourth-place Des Moines to just five points with a game in hand.
“It’s an important 4 points for us,” Eades said. “We got back home and play well. We had a four-game road trip and now we’ve got a four-game homestand. We took care of the first weekend.”
Fargo will be back at Scheels Arena for a weekend series against the Lincoln Stars next Saturday and Sunday. The Stars currently rank eighth in the Western Conference with a 10-27-5 record. Puck drop for Saturday’s game is 7:05 p.m. Sunday’s game will start at 5:05 p.m.