By Ryan S. Clark
It’s called a winning streak. This has happened before.
Don’t think three wins in a row means something? Try this: The Fargo Force, two weeks ago, were kicking it with the dust bunnies at the bottom of the United States Hockey League’s Western Conference standings. Getting a 3-2 shootout victory to break a 3-3 tie against the U.S. National U-18 Team now moves the Force to the middle of the standings.
“It feels good obviously, you know,” said Force goaltender Zane Gothberg, who made 35 saves in the win. “It’s a plus. We feel like we are working hard and getting down to business. We are gelling more and communicating on the ice. When you do the little things, it turns into big things, like winning three games in a row.”
The last time the Force (8-11-3) won three in a row came in March, right before the team’s second-round playoff run.
Playoffs are a ways away, but the goal is to get there. Keep winning games in bunches, and it’ll happen.
Also, it helps when you have a goalie like Gothberg. The North Dakota commit and Boston Bruins draft pick was easily the saving grace for the Force.
Gothberg captained the penalty kill, helping the unit go 7-for-7, including a few stretches where it was facing a 5-on-3.
He made the easy saves from the outside. But whenever Team USA’s snipers came close, Gothberg found a way to get it done.
“My guys up front find a way to make it easy for me,” Gothberg said. “They move guys out of the way and help clear traffic allowing me to see the puck better.”
Bryn Chyzyk is certainly included in the group of guys who made life easy for Gothberg. While Team USA was trying to work the puck around, Chyzyk kept an active stick, pushing the puck out of the Force’s end.
The puck sailed into Team USA’s end, and some miscommunication led to Chyzyk getting a wide-open net.
Merry Christmas, Bryn. Your goal just gave the Force a 2-1 lead in the second period.
“I saw a loose puck and threw some pressure on them,” Chyzyk said. “I made a read, barely got my stick on it and the rest was easy after that. It was lucky, but I’ll take it.”
Then came the third period. First, Team USA scored, tying it at 2-2. Rookie forward David Gust, who already had an assist, scored for a 3-2 lead. It looked like a nice two-point night for Gust. A minute later Kyle Osterberg wanted a two-point night too setting up Nick Kerdiles for a game-tying goal.
Gothberg said when there were two minutes left, the hope was to reach overtime. Then with three minutes left in overtime, the hope was to reach the shootout.
He got his wish and made the most of it. Gothberg stopped three of the five shooters he faced.
The last save set up forward and St. Cloud State commit Jonny Brodzinski.
Brodzinski, a right-handed shot, flew down the center of the ice, made a move and beat goaltender Jared Rutledge for the win.
Let’s try that one more time: He scored for the team’s third straight win. “I knew he was showing deke right away and he was out farther than he should have been,” Brodzinski recalled. “I went down and he came with me, and I had no room to shoot, but I got it up in time.”
Sports | Dec. 10, 2011 | Page D2