Whatever concerns there might have been about the Force were quickly swept away.
The Force jumped out to a 4-0 lead – scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the second period – en route to a 6-2 win on Saturday night at Waterloo meaning the Force are now tied for third place in the Western Conference.
It is quite a change considering Black and Blue got worked like a McRib for in a 4-1 loss on Friday night to Omaha.
As is the case with every away game, here’s a look at the people who made the win happen.
-Zane Gothberg, goaltender (North Dakota): Gothberg bounced back from a not-so-great night to possibly have one his better games all season. Waterloo has one of the most dangerous attacks in the league so to keep them at bay says a lot for any goaltender. Gothberg made 28 saves on the night and has helped contribute to a major stat, which we’ll bring up later. He’s now 18-12-3 with a 2.46 GAA this season.
-Dave Gust, forward: Gust probably had the strongest performance of any player on the Force tonight. He picked up a goal and an assist for his fourth multi-point game of the season. But what’s even bigger is this is his first three-point game of his career. Gust recently went five games without a point and now has four in his last three. In the 29 games he’s played this year, he has 20 points making him the team’s fourth-leading scorer. It can be argued Gust is the reason why the High Musical Line has been on key this season.
-Gabe Guertler, forward (Minnesota): Speaking of the Musical, Guertler returned to the scoresheet for the first time in seven games with two assists. He’s had a really odd year and here’s why. Fans can say what they want about his offensive production but he’s stepped up in other ways. He’s actually been gritty with the way he plays by actually getting in people’s faces. So when you add that edge with his potential to breakout at any time, it makes for a strong combination of items to have in what is still a first-year player who is still just 16 years old and one of the youngest in the league. Because we’ve mentioned two members of The Musical, don’t forget Alex Iafallo (Minnesota-Duluth) who also scored a goal.
-Justin Wade, defenseman (Notre Dame): Let’s recap. Fargo’s not flooding this year. The New York Knicks are relevant again and Wade scored a goal. Yes, people, the end of days really are near. Wade picked up his first goal, an empty-netter, in his USHL career snapping a 77-game streak. Since Dec. 1, Wade is actually a plus-14 and for the year is a plus-7 marking what might be one of the better turnarounds of any player on the team this season. Wade has really established himself as one of the league’s better shutdown defenseman this year. Not saying goals will start flowing, but it might be fair to say he’s living up to the potential many had for him.
-The Force’s Defense: Wade scoring was certainly the cherry on top of what was a sweet evening for the blueliners. David Mead opened game with a goal while Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha) scored the team’s second goal. Now here’s the stat we were talking about earlier. Just on goals allowed, the Force are the best defense in the Western Conference and are the third-best in the entire USHL. Yep. The Force are in the top five in goals allowed and the penalty kill this season.