Fargo, N.D. (Fargo Force) — Josh Nodler went backhand in the shootout to seal a 4-3 win for the Force Wednesday night in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Des Moines Buccaneers at Scheels Arena. Ryan Bischel stopped 30 of 33 shots he faced in regulation and overtime before stoning all four Des Moines shooters in the shootout to earn his sixth win of the season.
We had to find a way to win the game and we sucked it up, head coach Cary Eades said. “They got it to 3-3 and we didnt crumble. We played good hockey and Bischel made the big saves in the shootout. Then Nodler went and won it for us.
After the Force killed off a Des Moines power play, Josh Nodler opened the games scoring with his fifth goal of the season on a rebound play in front of the net. After the Buccaneers goaltender was unable to handle the initial redirect from Hank Crone, Nodler pulled the loose puck out of a scrum and fired into the empty net for his second goal against Des Moines this season. Carter Randklev also assisted on the play.
The Buccaneers outshot Fargo 24-15 in the first two periods, but Bischel kept the visitors off the board. The Medina, Minn. native earned his sixth win of the season.
Neither team took a penalty in the second and both goalies made some spectacular saves to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the Force. A diving stop by Force captain AJ Drobot five minutes into the second negated Des Moines best scoring chance of the middle stanza.
Hes a character kid all the way through, Eades said. A heart of gold. Plays so hard each and every day and hes a great leader by example for us.
The Force couldnt get anything to go on a power play chance early in the third, but Drobot made it a two-goal game when his redirect beat the Bucs goalie eight seconds after the man advantage expired. Tyler Gratton got the lone assist on the captains second goal of the season at 6:27 of the third period.
The Force made it 3-0 with six minutes left in regulation when Crone and Nodler once again partnered up for a tic-tac-toe goal. Crone saucered the puck to Nodler, who promptly returned it to his linemate for a tap-in. Crones third goal of the season moves him within five points of Matt Leitner for the Force all-time record.
Three goals in three and a half minutes for the Buccaneers forced overtime, and Bischel made three key stops in the extra frame to force the shootout.
After the first seven shooters missed in the shootout, Nodlers goal sealed the deal and sent the Force into Thanksgiving Day with two points.
With the win, Fargo moves to 8-7-2 on the year, good for fifth place in the Western Conference. The Force will head to Sioux City and Omaha this weekend for a pair of matchups against Conference competition.
FARGO, N.D. — The Fargo Force looked poised to cruise to victory Wednesday night after holding a 3-0 lead with just five minutes to play at home.