What's everyone so afraid of?

There are so many more reasons people attend sporting events than for just the game itself.  People want to be entertained with things other than what is going on the ice, so what is everyone so afraid of?  The Fargo Force are in their second year and Fargo Force staff and some fans have taken criticism of game atmosphere with a grain of salt. 

This year we have seen the addition of the Party Pit to add to the atmosphere in the south end of the rink which has helped.  They have also added an organ (the Zamborgan).  Force fans have taken it upon themselves to create more interest in the Force.  We have seen Force fans bring in signs, cowbells, and even a very LOUD Fargo Force drum.  Force fans have even created their own "Chaos Corner" that usually produces a decent amount of vocals game in and game out.

The question is, why isn't everyone else participating?  What does it take to get the average attendance of around 3,000 to participate in the "Let's go Force" chant or the "Sieve" chant that is attempted on the south end of the rink.  Do we have to educate our fans on how to be fans?  Do we need to give pamphlets out to get people participating?  How can we get casual fans to leave the games with a feeling of excitement and desire of wanting to come to another game to take part in that atmosphere once again?

Strides have been made since opening night last year with all of the additions that are mentioned above, but it would be the best place to hold a game if we were able to get that ultimate atmosphere that sports fans desire when they purchase the ticket.  Players will also feel the effects of added atmosphere.  Ask any player that has played in the USHL and I am sure they would tell you that the places that they had the most fun playing in, was the facilities that had the best atmosphere.  Let's make the Urban Plains Center the best place to watch/play a game in.

Big Rig

Check out the video on one of the Fargo Force's newest additions - John "Big Rig" Stampohar

Sounds like a kid that knows his role on a team, whether it be scoring goals or playing physical, he knows what he has to do to get his team going.

If I find anything on any of the other new additions or if anyone else finds anything interesting, feel free to post a comment.

Tri-City at Fargo - Game 2 - 7:05pm

Tri-City at Fargo 7:05pm from the Urban Plains Center.  New players added to the Force roster, you might want to tune in!

Tri-City at Fargo 7:35pm

2009 Scheel's Pond Hockey Festival

It's official! The 2009 Scheel's Pond Hockey Festival will be held Dec. 31 10:00am - 4:05pm. The pond hockey tournament will take place on the east side of the Urban Plains Center. Registration for the pond hockey tournament opens next week with 64 teams available.

Fargo Force sweep Team USA

The Fargo Force swept Team USA over the weekend in a pair of 6-3 wins in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

On Saturday, the Force were led by Garrett Allen, who netted his first USHL hat trick, Matt Leitner, 1 goal, 2 assists and Nate Schmidt, 1 goal, 2 assists.  Cole Gunner also scored for the Force.  Nate Condon, Chad Demers, Grant Scott and Chase Grant eached picked up an assist.

On Sunday, Nate Condon, Johnnie Searfoss and Alex Lippincott each scored a goal and picked up an assist.  Gavin Hartzog picked up two assists.  Colten St. Clair, Oleg Yevenko and Joe Rehkamp each netted goals for Fargo.  Others picking up assists included: Corey Leivermann, Cole Gunner, Grant Scott and Blake Doerring. 

Ryan Holfeld picked up two wins in the sweep over Team USA, stopping 47 of 53 shots in the two games.

Force are back in action this weekend, Friday and Saturday, against the Tri-City Storm.  Enjoy some hockey games the day after Thanksgiving and then Saturday night is the 2nd annual Teddy Bear Toss night. 

Force lose heartbreaker in Des Moines

Fargo Force fans can have a new favorite player to hate.  Connor Brickley scored three goals and added two assists for a 5 point night downing the Force 6-4.

Fargo started slow and Des Moines led on a first period goal by Connor Brickley.  HT Lenz extended that lead and put Fargo down 2-0 early in the second period.  Fargo proved in the game before against Indiana that they are able to come back on a team and they did it again tonight in Des Moines.  Fargo got goals from Nate Condon (shorthanded) and Corey Leivermann to even the game up in the second period 2-2.  Yasin Cisse would regain the lead for the Bucs before heading to the locker room for the second intermission.

The third period is where things got a little more interesting.  Des Moines extended their lead early in the period to 4-2 and it looked like that would be enough for Des Moines to take the game with Eric Mihalik standing on his head in the Bucs' net.  Fargo proved to be resilient though, once again.  Fargo got goals by Garrett Allen and Matt Leitner, both assisted by Eamonn McDermott to tie the game up late in the third period, 4-4.  Connor Brickley stunned the Force and pumped the 1,954 Bucs fans up by scoring with only 15 seconds remaining in the period.  Brickley would seal the deal with the hat trick (empty net) goal 4 seconds later to end the game 6-4.

Cody Campbell stopped 23 of 28 for the Force.  Mihalik stopped 31 of 35 for the Bucs.

If there are any positives to take from the past few games, it would have to be the character the Force have shown by being resilient and not giving up when they are down.  They have come back from deficits late in games a few times this year, including the last two games.  Unfortunately Fargo was unable to come out with a victory on this night, but at least we have a "never give up" attitude that could go a long way as the season progresses.

USHL adds fourth team in three years

Dubuque, Iowa will be getting their USHL franchise back, making it the fifth team in Iowa and the fourth expansion team in three years.  The Dubuque Fighthing Saints started their franchise in the USHL in 1980-81 and left 21 years later.  Dubuque has officially been added as the newest addition to the USHL today.

The team will play at the Mystique Ice Center, a 3,200-seat arena scheduled to open next summer on Chaplain Schmitt Island. 

Good to see the league continuing its success, and bringing a team back to where it has had some tradition is a great idea for the league and the city.  It will be interesting to see if the USHL adds another team to even the pool at 16 or leave it at 15.

Check out a few articles here and here.

Nate Schmidt Interview

Fargo Force defenseman, Nate Schmidt, answered all of the questions Force fans were able to come up with.  Thank you to all who responded with comments and questions for Nate, and a big thank you to Nate  for doing this for us!

FFB: Was the decision to come to Fargo an easy one for you and if not, what made it difficult?

Nate: Yes, it was a difficult decision leaving my family and friends and everything and everyone I had grown up with. I played four years of high school hockey so I felt that that part of me needed to move on to Fargo in order to develop into a better player. I miss things from back home but the guys, my billet family, and the coaches have made my transition to Fargo easier.

FFB: Why did you choose Minnesota? Were there any other colleges on your list, or was Minnesota your only choice?

Nate: I chose Minnesota because of the tradition and the opportunity of winning a national championship. I felt like it was a great fit for me as a person and that I would fit in well at the campus and with the team. My other choices were Colorado College, St. Cloud State, and North Dakota.

FFB: There was a rumor out there that you may go to Colorado College. Is there any truth to that?

Nate: There are always rumors out there about situations like that, but no there were never any intentions on moving away from my decision to play for the Gophers.

FFB: Were you always a defenseman or were there other positions that you played in the past?

Nate: I was all over the place growing up. In squirts, I played center and a little bit of wing. In peewees, I was a defenseman my first year. I was then back to forward for the first half of my second year, and then back to defense. After that, I made our varsity team at my high school as a forward playing left wing. It wasn’t until about halfway through my freshman year that I got moved back to defense, where I have been ever since.

FFB: We all know you have a hard slap shot, is that something you had to work at, or did it come naturally?

Nate: It was kind of both, I guess. I have shot a lot of pucks during the summer and when I was in peewees I think 95% of the shots I took were slap shots, so it just started to come natural to me after a while.

FFB: College players are undergoing pressure to leave early. What are your plans for attending the University of Minnesota? Do you see yourself playing 2 or more years?

Nate: That is a difficult decision for many college players now with the pros looming over their shoulders to make the jump, but I don’t see any plans to move on as of now. That is not really a concern of mine right now, on how fast I can get to the pros, pending I even get that far. So, like I said, no plans on leaving.

FFB: Who outside of your family has made the biggest impact on your hockey career?

Nate: I would have to say my high school coach Eric Johnson. He was my coach in peewees for a year before taking the high school job, and he coached me all four years I was at St. Cloud Cathedral. Coach Johnson would help train me in the summers if I would ever have to be in shape for a summer select festival or some tournament that I would be playing in. Also, he helped me with talking to colleges for making my decision on where I wanted to play, and which school was the best fit for me. In addition, he was great with preparing me for Fargo this year; he had all the best wishes for me to continue on with my career despite having a year left of eligibility in high school. Coach Johnson helped me with becoming the hockey player I am now, as well as helping me develop the personal character that I needed on and off the ice in order for me to succeed at the next level.

FFB: What is your favorite TV show? Favorite movie? Favorite music?
Nate: I would have to say the Sons of Anarchy or Family Guy. Favorite movie would have to be The Boondock Saints. Favorite music would have to be pretty much anything, just whatever will get me fired up when I get ready to play.

FFB: Who do you think is the funniest guy on the team? Any specific reason for that?

Nate: I would have to say Nick Oliver. Ollie has been one of my best buddies in hockey for the past 5 years or so. I met him a long time ago playing in selects and against each other in the summer. He brings a vibe into the locker room that cannot be matched or brought down in any way. He is always in a good mood, quick for a joke, or helpful in any way he can. It's just the way he is, he is a goofball of a guy but can be as serious as they come when need be, but the loosest guy when the times are not serious.

FFB: What does a typical weekly practice schedule look like?

Nate: Our typical week consists of Monday being a “get back into it” day where we are going hard, just getting back after a day off on Sunday, usually, and that is followed by a workout. Tuesday is our toughest day - hard drills, lots of battling, odd man rushes, and conditioning highlight Tuesday, while practice is also followed by a workout. Wednesday is a flow day, lots of open ice movement, quick decisions and such. Thursday is mostly speed and getting guys ready to play whomever we are playing if we are at home or a travel day if we are away.

FFB: What are you going to major in at Minnesota?

Nate: Business

FFB: What other sports do you like to watch/play?

Nate: I love to play baseball, and I enjoy watching NHL games and the Vikings play football.

FFB: Who was the best player you played with at St. Cloud Cathedral? Who was the best player you played against while there?
Nate: I would have to say the best player I played with would be Matt Crandell, he is currently a defenseman at Michigan State University right now.  The best player I played against would probably have to be either Jack Connolly (Duluth Marshall, UMD) or Ben Hanowski (Little Falls, SCSU).

Fargo Force players and affiliates recognized by NHL Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting has released a preliminary "Players to Watch" list and also ranked the top prospects in the USHL.  The "Players to Watch" list are mainly prospects that are younger and scouts will be watching them for the next years to come up until their NHL draft eligible year.  The preliminary rankings list, ranks the top USHL players that scouts are watching for the draft upcoming in the NHL.

Four of the top five players on the USHL list are in the USNTDP program.  At the top of the list is Derek Forbort, a big defenseman for Team USA.  Fargo was only able to claim one player on the Top 25 Skaters list.  Eamonn McDermott impressed the scouts enough to be number 19 on the list.

For the "Players to Watch" list, there are a few names that should be familiar to Force fans. 

Joey Benik, St. Francis star that scored over 70 goals as a junior last year, is a "C" rated prospect.  This means that he is on scouts' radar, and could be a late round NHL selection.

Willie Corrin is also an affiliate player for the Fargo Force playing in Minnesota HS for International Falls (Home of Dean Blais).  Corrin is a defenseman and, like Benik, also a "C" rated prospect.

Zane Gothberg, Fargo Force's first round selection in the USHL draft this year, is a "A" rated prospect as goaltender of the Thief River Falls' hockey team this year.  The Force are expecting to have him in their lineup next year, before Zane heads to the University of North Dakota.

Fargo Force complete comeback 6-5

Fargo wasn't able to complete the comeback on Friday night as they lost 6-3.  They completed the comeback on Saturday night as they scored three straight goals in the third period, and got the game winner from Brian Cooper with 1:46 remaining.

Indiana led the game early and was leading 3-1 after the first period.  The Force got their first period goal from Nate Condon on the power play with the feed coming from Brian Cooper. 

The Force thought they would start the comeback earlier this time and came back with two goals in the second period to tie it up going into the third.  Nate Condon scored early in the second period, Johnnie Searfoss picked up the assist.  Matt Leitner tied the game halfway through the second period on the power play.  He was assisted by Chase Grant and Corey Leivermann.

Indiana picked it up in the third period and scored two goals in the first four minutes of the to make it a 5-3 game. 

It would then turn into the Brian Cooper show.  Cooper started the comeback with a goal 6:25 into the period.  Nate Condon and Grant Scott picked up assists.  Captain Chase Grant scored the game tying goal less than a minute later.  Corey Leivermann and Nate Schmidt both assisted on the game tying goal.  Brian Cooper would finish things off with 1:46 remaining.  The game winner was assisted by Matt Leitner and Chase Grant.

Cody Campbell got the win for Fargo, stopping 17 of 22.  Casey DeSmith was in the net for Indiana, allowing 6 goals on 30 shots.

Fargo is back in action against Des Moines on Thursday, November 19.

Force lose in Clark Cup Final rematch

Corey Leivermann was able to keep his hot streak going with two assists, but Fargo wasn't as they fell to the defending Clark Cup champions 6-3 in Indiana.

Fargo dominated on the shot counter in the first period, but were unable to capitalize.  Indiana managed to take advantage of the few opportunities they had and got a goal in the opening stanza from Kevin Goumas.  Indiana only managed four shots in the first period.  Fargo rifled ten on Indiana goalie, Cab Morris, but Morris was equal to the task in the first.

Indiana broke the game wide open in the second with four goals, forcing Ryan Holfeld out of the net and onto the bench.  Holfeld stopped 8 out of 12 in the first half of the game.  Cody Campbell came in when it was 4-0 and only let in one goal in the game (only goal coming in the 2nd period). 

Fargo made their comeback in the third period on a power play goal from Nate Condon.  Condon was assisted by Oleg Yevenko and Corey Leivermann.  Chase Grant narrowed the score to 5-2 on a goal three and a half minutes later with assists from Condon and Leivermann. 

Fargo would get a power play with about five minutes left in the game.  The opportunity opted Coach Johnson to pull Campbell and it paid off and gave the Force some hope.  Fargo would get that goal from Colten St. Clair on assists from Johnnie Searfoss and Matt Leitner.  With 4:16 remaining and only a two goal deficit, Fargo was within striking distance of pushing it to overtime.  Fargo continued to try to keep the magic going with the empty net and Indiana was able to capitalize, scoring another goal to finish off the game 6-3.  Cody Campbell finished the game with 14 saves on 15 shots in relief of Holfeld.

Fargo will try for a split as they play the Ice again tomorrow in another Clark Cup Final rematch game.

Live Blog/Chat

Anyone interested in having a live blog/chat available for when the Force are at away games?  Let me know in a comment and if there is enough interest, we could make that happen. 

We would be using the same program that we have been for home games (CoveritLive).

Rumor: Fargo Force Pond Hockey Tournament?

Rumor is that the Fargo Force and the Urban Plains Center might be putting on a Fargo Force Pond Hockey Tournament on New Year's Eve, before the Force play later in the evening.  Games would be played on the pond directly east of the Urban Plains Center.  I am sure there will be more news to come soon, if it all works out as planned.

Questions to ask Nate Schmidt

Nate Schmidt has accepted to do the next interview for you, the fans. Please post your question for Nate in a comment below, and I will add them to the list on this site. Nate is a former St. Cloud Cathedral standout and future University of Minnesota Golden Gopher. He also scored the game-winner in last night's win over Chicago.

1. Was the decision to come to Fargo an easy one for you and if not, what made it difficult?
2. Why did you choose Minnesota? Were there any other colleges on your list, or was Minnesota your only choice?
3. There was a rumor out there that you may go to Colorado College.  Is there any truth to that?
4. Were you always a defenseman or were there other positions that you played in the past?
5. We all know you have a hard slap shot, is that something you had to work at, or did it come naturally?
6. College players are undergoing pressure to leave early.  What are your plans for attending the University of Minnesota? Do you see yourself playing 2 or more years?
7. Who outside of your family has made the biggest impact on your hockey career?
8. What is your favorite TV show?  Favorite movie? Favorite music?
9. Who do you think is the funniest guy on the team?  Any specific reason for that?
10. What does a typical weekly practice schedule look like?
11. What are you going to major in at Minnesota?
12. What other sports do you like to watch/play?
13. Who was the best player you played with at St. Cloud Cathedral? Who was the best player you played against while there?

Also, if you missed the first interview with Cody Campbell, click here.

McDermott named player of the game; Team USA wins Gold

Eamonn McDermott scored the first goal of the game and added an assist on Matt Leitner's game winning goal in Summerside, P.E.I. against Canada West.  For his efforts, McDermott was rewarded with being named Player of the Game in the Gold Medal win for Team USA.

Colten St. Clair, Matt Leitner and Eamonn McDermott will all be coming home from Summerside with some hardware around their neck, winning the Gold with Team USA.

Chicago @ Fargo - Game 2 - 7:05 PM

Free ticket to an active (commenting) reader.  Game starts at 7:05.

Chicago @ Fargo: Live from the UP Center

Once again - free ticket to an active reader (comment please!) 

St. Clair picks up two points in semi-final win over Russia

Colten St. Clair registered a goal and an assist in the U.S. win over Russia in today's semi-final game.  Eamonn McDermott also assisted for Team USA in the win.  Team USA will play the winner of Canada East/Canada West on Sunday, November 8.

From USA Hockey:

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Shane Berschbach (Clawson, Mich./Indiana Ice/1-1--2), Jeff Costello (Milwaukee, Wis./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders/1-1--2) Nick Jensen (Rogers, Minn./Green Bay Gamblers/0-2--2) and Colten St. Clair (Gilbert, Ariz./Fargo Force/1-1--2) each tallied two points as the U.S. Junior Select Team downed Russia, 6-3, here today in the semifinals of the World Junior A Challenge at Credit Union Place. With the win, Team USA looks to defend its 2008 World Junior A Challenge title in the championship game Sunday (Nov. 8) at 4 p.m. EST. The U.S. will play the winner of tonight's semifinal matchup between Canada East and Canada West.

"We came out hard in the first period and finished the game strong," said Mark Carlson, head coach of the 2009 U.S. Junior Select Team. "We're very happy we get to play for another championship Sunday."

After John Parker (Green Brook, N.J./Indiana Ice) knocked the puck loose from a Russian defenseman along the boards, Connor Brickley (Everett, Mass./Des Moines Buccaneers) picked up the puck and cut below the right faceoff circle before firing a shot through Russian goaltender Sergey Kostenko's five hole at 11:25 of the first period. Less then five minutes later, Jensen sent a pass to Mac Bennett (Warrick, R.I./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) at the blue, who fired a shot toward the far post that Berschbach tipped past Kostenko for a power-play marker at 15:37. At 18:54 of the opening frame, while coming down the ice on a 2-on-1 rush, Costello tipped St. Clair's pass over the netminder's left shoulder to extend the U.S. lead to 3-0.

In the second period, Nick Mattson (Chanhassen, Minn./Indiana Ice) gave the U.S. a 4-0 lead with a power-play goal at 2:56. Eamonn McDermott (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Fargo Force) was just inside the blue line at the left point when he sent a cross-ice pass to Berschbach at the faceoff dot. Berschbach then sent a pass across the goalmouth to a waiting Mattson, who sent it to the back of the net.

After being held scoreless for half of regulation, Russia scored three straight power-play goals to close the gap, 4-3. Alexey Marchenko tallied the first at 10:04 before Nail Yakupov scored at 14:00, both in the second period. Ignat Zemchenko potted his power-play marker at 1:27 of the final stanza.

Team USA responded with two goals in the third frame, including a tally from Beau Bennett (Gardena, Calif.) at 15:29. While on a 5-on-3 power play, Jensen fed Bennett at the right faceoff dot, where he snapped a shot over Kostenko's shoulder. With 11 seconds remaining in the game, St. Clair took passes from Derek DeBlois (East Greenwich, R.I./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) and Costello at the slot and beat Kostenko over his blocker.

U.S. netminder Eric Mihalik (Avon Lake, Ohio/Des Moines Buccaneers) turned aside 13 shots in the win.

Series Preview: Chicago Steel @ Fargo Force

One of the hottest teams in the USHL will be facing off against the Fargo Force this weekend, November 6-7.  Fargo will once again be without three of their top players, St. Clair, McDermott and Leitner, as they are playing in the World Junior A Challenge in Summerside, P.E.I.  Chicago will also be missing their top defenseman, Kevin Lind, for the same reason. 

Chicago hasn't had to rely on Kevin Lind as much as Fargo has had to rely on the top trio missing for this weekend's action.  Chicago has the most powerful offense in the USHL as they lead the league in goals this year (45).  Three of the five USHL leaders in scoring are from Chicago.  Sahir Gill leads the team with 17 points (4g, 13a), Mark Anthoine leads the team in goals with 10 and has added 5 assists for a total of 15 points.  Andrei Kuchin has also been quite the dishmaster for the Steel, posting 13 assists this year.  Kuchin has also added a couple of goals for a total of 15 points.

Chicago will also be bringing along an NHL legend's son, Jake Chelios, son of Chris Chelios.  He is sixth in team scoring with 2 goals and 8 assists.

If there is a chink in the Steel's armor, it has been in between the pipes for Chicago.  Nick Pisellini has been the go to goalie for the Steel so far, posting up 6 wins but a weak 3.13 GAA and .887 Save %.  Connor Wilson hasn't had much luck so far backing up Pisellini.  Wilson has one win in two games but a 5.05 GAA and a .851 Save %.

Fargo will be leaning on secondary scoring once again with the absences of three top players.  They may be able to put some pucks in the net against Chicago, but with Chicago's offense Fargo will need to play well defensively and in between the pipes.  Cody Campbell and Ryan Holfeld will be key if the Force plan on winning this weekend.

U.S. Junior Select Team Downs Sweden 3-1

Fargo Force's Matt Leitner, Colten St. Clair and Eamonn McDermott each assisted in the 3-1 win over Sweden today.

From USA Hockey:

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Shane Berschbach (Clawson, Mich./Indiana Ice) tallied his tournament-leading fourth goal and Eric Mihalik (Avon Lake, Ohio/Des Moines Buccaneers) turned aside 34 shots as the U.S. Junior Select Team downed Sweden, 3-1, here today in the quarterfinal round of the World Junior A Challenge at Credit Union Place. With the win, Team USA advances to the semifinals against Russia Friday (Nov. 6) at 1 p.m. EST.

"We've been improving all aspects of our game and it showed here today," said Mark Carlson, head coach of the 2009 U.S. Junior Select Team. "We're getting better each time on the ice and it's an exciting time for our team right now as we head toward the semifinals."

After a scoreless first period where Mihalik and Sweden's Jonas Gunnarsson stopped six and 17 shots, respectively, Nick Jensen (Rogers, Minn./Green Bay Gamblers) gave Team USA a 1-0 lead at 4:06 of the middle frame. Colten St. Clair's (Gilbert, Ariz./Fargo Force) faceoff win to the right of Gunnarsson found Mac Bennett (Warrick, R.I./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) at the blue line, who slid a pass to Jensen. The defenseman skated in from the point and fired a shot that beat Gunnarsson low to the far side.

The U.S. scored two more goals in the middle frame, with David Gerths (Ankeny, Iowa/Lincoln Stars) giving the U.S. a 2-0 advantage at 8:20. After Berschbach took the puck away from a Swedish defenseman in the corner, he sent a pass to Kevin Gravel (Kingsford, Mich./Sioux City Musketeers) at the right point, who found his defensive partner Kevin Albers (Lake Orion, Mich./Green Bay Gamblers). Albers fired a shot that was directed by Gerths into the back of the net.

While on the power play, Eamonn McDermott (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Fargo Force) sent a pass along the boards to a waiting Matt Leitner (Los Alamitos, Calif./Fargo Force) at the hash marks, who sent a pass to Berschbach near the goal line. Berschbach made a fake that froze Gunnarsson before banking the puck off his arm to extend the U.S. lead to 3-0 at 15:35.

Sweden ended Team USA's shutout bid with a goal from Adam Almquist at 4:29 of the third period to account for the U.S. 3-1 final.

Force players tally a total of five points in Team USA win

Fargo Force players Matt Leitner, Eamonn McDermott and Colten St. Clair tallied a total of five points for Team USA in a 6-1 win over Belarus.  Leitner tallied three assists, Eamonn McDermott posted his first point with an assist and Colten St. Clair added a late goal for Team USA in the win.

From USA Hockey:

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Led by Shane Berschbach's (Clawson, Mich./Indiana Ice) two goals and one assist, the U.S. Junior Select Team rolled past Belarus, 6-1, here tonight in its final preliminary-round game of the World Junior A Challenge at Credit Union Place in Summerside, P.E.I. With the victory, Team USA (1-0-1-0) secured second place in its group and will face Sweden Thursday (Nov. 5) in the quarterfinal round at 1 p.m. EST.

"I thought we played well tonight and had a lot of improvements in our game," said Mark Carlson, head coach of the 2009 U.S. Junior Select Team. "Even though the team hasn't been together for very long, everyone followed the plan and our power play and penalty kill worked well for us."

The U.S. garnered four power-play markers in the game, including two from Berschbach in the opening frame. While on a 5-on-3 advantage, Matt Leitner (Los Alamitos, Calif./Fargo Force), who was positioned in the high slot, sent a David Gerths' (Ankeny, Iowa/Lincoln Stars) pass to the left side of the net, where Berschbach fired the puck past Belarussian goaltender Stanislau Artynski to give Team USA a 1-0 lead at 14:42. Berschbach would net his second tally of the game 2:10 later when he directed another Leitner pass behind Artynski. Eamonn McDermott (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Fargo Force) collected his first assist of the tournament on the power-play goal.

In the second period, Team USA capitalized on another power play, with Berschbach and Leitner setting up Gerths at 7:27. Gerths took a Berschbach pass at the high slot and fired a onetimer over the netminder's blocker to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead. Derek DeBlois (East Greenwich, R.I./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) extended Team USA's lead to 4-0 after Kevin Albers (Lake Orion, Mich./Green Bay Gamblers) sent a pass to Nic Dowd (Huntsville, Ala./Indiana Ice), who passed to DeBlois at the bottom of the left circle, where he buried the puck past the goaltender.

After holding Belarus scoreless for almost two periods, Kiryl Brykun made it a 4-1 game with :32 remaining in the middle frame.

The U.S. regained its four-goal lead with a marker from Beau Bennett (Gardena, Calif.) at 6:03 of the final stanza. Nick Mattson's (Chanhassen, Minn./Indiana Ice) shot from the blue line was tipped by Mike Parks (O'Fallon, Mo./Cedar Rapids RoughRiders) and knocked out of the air by Bennett past Artynski. Colten St. Clair (Gilbert, Ariz./Fargo Force) closed out the scoring with :23 remaining in the game when his shot off the rush from the right wing found the back of the net. Chris Crane (West Chester, Ohio/Green Bay Gamblers) collected an assist on the power-play tally.

U.S. netminder Eric Mihalik (Avon Lake, Ohio/Des Moines Buccaneers) turned aside 25 shots in the victory.

Cody Campbell Interview

Special thanks to Cody Campbell for doing this interview for us.  He was very happy to do it, and very willing to answer all of our questions.  Thank you to all who posted questions to ask Cody in the interview.

FFB: What do each of the symbols on the back of your helmet mean to you?

Cody: I try to keep most of my helmets team related but on almost all of my masks I have used the back plate as a personal thing. I have a Colorado flag, which obviously represents where I'm from and inside of the flag I have the name Brody. Brody was an infant brother of a very close friend and teammate that unfortunately died of SIDS only two months after he was born just over a year and a half ago. So I like to honor Brody and his family with his name on my helmet. Under the Colorado Flag, I have two crossing Pick Axes with a rose going through them. The Pick Axes was the logo of the Pikes Peak Miners which was my midget hockey team and without that organization I definitely would not be where I am today. The rose is for my little sister Cierra. Rose is her middle name and she is without a doubt my biggest fan. She never missed a home game when I was still playing at home and she sacrificed a lot just to watch me play. Even when I have a bad game, or whatever, she always thinks I play amazing. So even on the road when we have no fans and the environment is tough to play in, I always know I've got my biggest fan there with me.

FFB: Do you feel more comfortable in the USHL this year vs. last year, with a year under your belt?

Cody: I feel 10 times more comfortable this year. Last year was a big transition not only on the ice but also moving away from your family at 16 and being on your own at such a young age is quite an adjustment.

FFB: What is your pregame preparation like? Do you have any pregame rituals? Any superstitions?
Cody: My game prep is very intense. Goaltender is a very mental position so you have to do everything you can to be as focused as possible. With that I do have an infinite number of rituals and superstitions. I could write a 500 page book on all of those, so just a few of the things I do off the ice on game days are: at home, subway is always my pregame meal.  I always warm up in my track suit and I never leave my house to go to a game or on a road trip without my closet door and door to my room being shut. That's the mild stuff, too. People aren't lying when they say goalies are a bit different.
FFB: What is your goal in life (Hockey or non-hockey related)?

Cody: I really couldn't see life without hockey. I would love to be able to play at a high level for as long as possible but once I am done playing I would really like to be able to coach at a high level as well.

FFB: Who outside of your own family has influenced you the most on the ice and off the ice as well?

Cody: My Midget AAA coach, Luc Trombetta, has no doubt been that person. He taught me numerous things on the ice but even more about things away from the rink. We have a very close relationship and still talk at least twice a week.

FFB: What do you like to do in the summer time and down time during the season?

Cody: During the off-season I love playing golf with my dad, grandpa or some buddies.  I normally play 3 times a week during the summer. During the season when we have down time at night I normally just relax, watch some hockey, do some homework, and occasionally hang out with a girl.

FFB: How would you describe your style of goaltending?

Cody: I like to think I kind of have my own style. I play butterfly a lot but I also make kick saves and skate saves which is uncharacteristic of a butterfly goalie. I guess I just like to be athletic and make saves. I don't think I really fall into any one category.

FFB: Who is your favorite goalie (past and/or present)?

Cody: My favorite goalie is Martin Brodeur because he competes so hard and, kind of like me, doesn't really fall into one category of style. Plus, he wins a lot.

FFB: Who did you idolize growing up? (Who did you want to "be"?)

Cody: Being from Colorado, I idolized Patrick Roy. Much like Brodeur, he competed so hard and he won a lot too.

Questions to ask Cody Campbell

I recently talked to Cody Campbell, and he is willing to do an interview for our blog site.  I would like to hear from you, the readers, what you would like to ask Cody Campbell.  I want to shape this interview based on what you have been wondering about.

I have gotten some feedback from some members of Forcehockey.com and here is what we have so far:

1. What do the symbols on the back of your helmet mean to you?
2. Do you feel more comfortable in the USHL this year vs. last year, with a year under your belt?
3. What is your pregame preparation like?  Do you have any pregame rituals?  Any superstitions?
4. What is your goal in life (Hockey or non-hockey related)?
5. Who outside of your own family has influenced you the most on the ice and off the ice as well?
6. What do you like to do in the summer time and down time during the season?
7. How would you describe your style of goaltending?
8. Who is your favorite goalie (past and/or present)?
9. Who did you idolize growing up?  (Who did you want to "be"?)
10. How old were you when you first started to play hockey? Were you always a goalie?

Add your question in a comment below...

St. Clair assists; Team USA loses in shootout

Team USA had everything going for them in their opening game of the Junior A Select Challenge tournament in Summerside, P.E.I.  They were leading 4-1 going into the final stanza, outshooting Canada East 27-8.  Canada East scored three goals in the third period, and forced the game into overtime.  The overtime solved nothing and the game went into a shootout.  Canada East's Andrew Calof, Jacob Laliberte and Brock Higgs all scored on Will Yanakeff.  Shane Berschbach and Beau Bennett scored goals in response for Team USA and it came down to Fargo's Matt Leitner to score the goal to push the shootout back another round, but he was unable to score and the game ended with Canada East pulling off the comeback victory.

Fargo Force's Colten St. Clair assisted in the loss for Team USA, who will play Team Belarus, Tuesday, November 3. 

Check back on the blog to get more updates on Team USA, and the Fargo Force players playing on the team do in the rest of the tournament.

Fargo Force swept at home

The Fargo Force did not have a happy Halloween this weekend as they were swept by the Youngstown Phantoms.  Fargo outshot Youngstown 29-13 in the loss but were unable to defeat the inaugural USHL hockey team. 

Corey Leivermann started off the game with a goal midway through the first period on a beautiful feed from former St. Cloud Cathedral standout, Nate Schmidt.  The Force outshot the Phantoms 13-2 in the opening stanza but Jordan Tibbett for Youngstown was stellar in net, holding the Force to only one goal.
Youngstown was able to even up the game on a power play goal by Stuart Higgins with assists to Dan Senkbeil and David Donnellan.  Brett Gensler scored with 2:21 to give Youngstown the lead and the momentum going into the third and final period.
Alex Lippincott and the Fargo Force were able to tie the game back up early in the third period on a power play goal from Nate Schmidt and Corey Leivermann for their second points of the game.  Youngstown then answered with a goal of their own about two minutes later on a goal by Adam Berkle.  The Phantoms pulled away and never looked back with an insurance marker another two minutes after Berkle's goal with a goal by Tom Serratore. 
Youngstown had control on the scoreboard, leading 4-2, but Fargo maintained pressure and continued peppering Tibbett with shots througout the game.  They were finally able to manage a goal to pull within one of the Phantoms with a rebound goal by Joe Rehkamp that was set up by the play of Chase Grant. 
Fargo had many opportunites to tie the game later in the third period, but were unable to capitalize as Tibbett continued to stymie the Force offense.  Fargo pulled Holfeld late in the third period and Youngstown scored two empty netters to ice the game 6-3. 
Ryan Holfeld stopped 9 of 13 Youngstown shots.  Jordan Tibbett stopped 26 of 29 in net for Youngstown.
Fargo is back in action on Friday and Saturday, November 6-7, against the Chicago Steel.  The Force will once again be relying heavily on younger players as Matt Leitner, Colten St. Clair and Eamonn McDermott will still be participating in the Junior A Select Tournament.  The good news for Fargo:  Kevin Lind, Chicago's top defenseman, will also be participating in the tournament.
Fargo might find a lot about themselves after this past weekend and the upcoming series versus the Chicago Steel.  They will find out a lot about how their younger players will step up and what they plan to do with the roster going forward as they have added Ryan Ladouceur temporarily to cover for the missing Force players.  It will be interesting to see how the upcoming games will shape the roster for the season going forward.