Early Lead Not Enough As Storm Fall To Force

tcstormKEARNEY, Neb. – The Fargo Force (8-35-5) erased a two-goal deficit in the third period and defeated the Tri-City Storm (18-28-3) in a shootout 5-4 at the Viaero Event Center on Saturday night.

Storm forward Austin Poganski had a goal and an assist, while Conner Valesano netted a power play goal for Tri-City in the defeat.

Fargo was able to jump out to an early 1-0 lead when forward Andrew Zerban scored just 1:36 into the opening period.

But Tri-City quickly evened the game minutes later when Poganski found Valesano in front at the end of a Storm power play. Poganski took a pass from Dan Labosky and raced into the offensive zone, skated wide right of the net and delivered the puck at the perfect time for Valesano to deflect it past Force netminder Brendan Jensen to tie the game at 1-1.

The Storm then took control of the game when forward Kyle Eastman scored less than two minutes after Valesano’s strike. Tri-City had the puck deep in the offensive zone when Labosky found Eastman in front for a quick release wrist shot that beat Jensen up high and gave the Storm a 2-1 lead.

In the final minute of the first period, the Storm’s line of Nick Hutchison, Drew Mayer and Cody Milan continued the hard work and got rewarded. Milan threw the puck towards the net and it deflected past the goal line with just 14 seconds remaining, pushing the Tri-City lead to 3-1 going into the intermission. The goal was Milan’s first in a Storm uniform.

The second period was more of the same for the Storm, as they outshot Fargo 16-5. Poganski made it 4-1 after a great individual effort, driving to the net and shoving the puck in using only one hand on his stick. Both Valesano and Fritz picked up assists on the goal. For Fritz, it was his first point since coming to Tri-City from Sioux Falls.

Poganski is now the leader on the team with 15 goals this season.

The Force cut the Storm lead to 4-2 when Mikey Eyssimont scored at 11:03 of the middle frame, taking a pass from Tyler Hynes and redirecting it past Storm goaltender Jacob Johansson.

Fargo was able to capitalize on two power play opportunities in the third period to tie the game at 4-4, with both Hynes and Garick Gray finding the back of the net.

With neither team able to find the tiebreaker in overtime, the game went to a shootout.

In the skill session, both goaltenders stopped the first four shooters they faced until forward C.J. Hayes beat Johansson in the fifth round. Chase Berger had a chance to tie it for the Storm, but missed and the Force secured two points for their eighth win of the season.

The two teams will do battle again on Sunday afternoon at the Viaero Event Center, with the game getting underway at 3:05 p.m.

Notes: The Storm scratched forwards Joey DiBenedetto and Nolan Aibel, along with defensemen Cutler Martin, Fredric Larsson, Sean Lang and Tory Dello…


1st Period

Fargo – Andrew Zerban (Neal Goff), 1:36

Tri-City – Conner Valesano (power play) (Austin Poganski, Dan Labosky), 4:24

Tri-City – Kyle Eastman (Ryan McMurphy, Dan Labosky), 6:08

Tri-City – Cody Milan, (Nick Hutchison, Drew Mayer), 19:46

2nd Period

Tri-City – Austin Poganski (Conner Valesano), 9:25

Fargo – Mikey Eyssimont (Tyler Hynes), 11:03

3rd Period

Fargo – Garrick Gray (power play) (Butrus Ghafari), 2:09

Fargo – Tyler Hynes (power play) (unassisted), 15:59


(no scoring)


1st Period

Fargo – Andrew Mcdonald, (Holding), 2 min, 2:48

Tri-City – Nick Hutchison, (Slashing), 2 min, 8:45

Fargo – Butrus Ghafari, (Hooking), 2 min, 11:53

Tri-City – Kyle Eastman, (Fighting) (Major), 5 min, 13:14

Fargo – Cam Ashley, (Fighting) (Major), 5 min, 13:14

Fargo – Cam Ashley, (Removing opponents helmet) (Game Misconduct), 10 min, 13:14

Tri-City – Garrett Gamez, (Tripping), 2 min, 16:05

2nd Period

Fargo – Garrick Gray, (Fighting )(Major), 5 min, 12:13

Tri-City – Conner Valesano, (Fighting) (Major), 5 min, 12:13

Fargo – Tanner Jago, (Cross Checking), 2 min, 13:36

Fargo – Butrus Ghafari, (Tripping), 2 min, 14:27

Tri-City – Nick Hutchison, (Fighting) (Major), 5 min, 19:04

Fargo – Hunter Warner, (Fighting) (Major), 5 min, 19:04

3rd Period

Tri-City – Kevin Kerr, (Holding), 2 min, 1:19

Fargo – Tyler Hynes, (Slashing), 2 min, 4:26

Tri-City – Cody Milan, (Tripping), 2 min, 14:30

Power Play

Fargo –2/3

Tri-City – 1/7


Fargo: 14, 6, 6, 4 = Total: 30

Tri-City: 10, 15, 9, 6 = Total: 40


Fargo – Brendan Jensen – 36/40

Tri-City – Jacob Johansson – 26/30