Hockey fans, our time has come. Break out your favorite jersey and grab your seat – hockey season is back.
It’s a mere 24 games into the professional season, and if you’re up for seeing some decently cheap live hockey, the Fargo Force is also 19 games into its 60-game season (not including playoffs).
The Force is in its fourth season in Fargo as a part of the United States Hockey League. The USHL is an age-limited league (20 and under) of 16 Midwest teams from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Ohio.
The teams may be limited to the Midwest, but the players are not. The Force has players from across the nation including Alaska, Texas, Florida, Missouri and New York, along with players from different countries: Bryn Chyzyk, a forward from Virden, Manitoba; Reed Peters, a goalie from Morden, Manitoba; and Stanislav Dzakhov, a defenseman from Moscow, Russia.
In its first two seasons, the Fargo Force made it all the way to the Clark Cup Finals, falling short to the Indiana Ice its inaugural season and to the Green Bay Gamblers in its second. Last year, the Force made it to the playoffs, only to lose in the second round to the eventual winners of that season’s Clark Cup, the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints. This year the Force started strong with a 3-0 record, winning its first two games in shootouts, first against the Des Moines (Iowa) Buccaneers and then the Omaha (Neb.) Lancers. However the team hit a rough patch, finally breaking a six-game losing streak on Nov 4 in Lincoln, Neb., against the hometown Lincoln Stars. The Force ended up splitting the weekend with the Stars, each with a win and a loss.
Since then, the Force has lost seven of the past 10 games, two of them to the Lincoln Stars. Just two short weeks after the double-header in Lincoln, the Force had yet another double-header against the Stars, this time at home. They again split the weekend, winning 5-2 on Nov. 18 and losing 0-2 on Nov. 19.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the team was on the road Wednesday in Sioux Falls, S.D., falling short in overtime to the Stampede 2-3. On Friday, the Force faced the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms losing 1-3, and Saturday losing 3-5 against the Indiana Ice putting the team’s record at 5-11-3.
On Nov. 11 in a sold-out arena, the Fargo Force revealed its new alternate jersey. As the team’s third jersey, it is solid blue with black and grey accents, which fit in well with the team’s white home and black away jerseys.
The new alternate has “FORCE” draped from the right shoulder down to the left hip, and uses a different font than the other two jerseys. All jerseys are on sale at Top Shelf, or online at fargoforce.com.
“The new jersey is awesome,” said Robert Wroblewski, a senior at NDSU. “They picked a great color scheme and the lettering for the logo has a great pop to it.”
General admission to a Fargo Force game is $9 in advance and $11 the day of the game. The general admission seats are bleachers on ice level, located on the north side of the rink behind the net the Force defends during the first and third periods.
Group seating is also an option, where tickets cost $9 in advance and $11 on game day. If there is a certain zone you wish to sit in you can do that too. Zone seating ranges from $11 in advance to $19 on game day, with on the glass seating ranging from $17 to $19.
“Going to the games is a great time. They have a great atmosphere and enjoying the company of friends really brings the experience together,” Wroblewski said. He has season tickets on the glass next to three of his friends.
“On the glass tickets are the closest you can get without actually being on the ice,” said Matthew Peterson, a junior at MSUM. “You feel like you’re closer to the game.” Peterson and his family inspired Wroblewksi to get season tickets next to them on the glass.
The Force games are student friendly and offers college nights where students can get into the game for only $5 with a school ID. There are also $2 pounder beer specials and $1 hot dogs.
“The games are very college friendly,” Wroblewski said. “The ticket prices are inexpensive, and they are always offering great deals.”
The next Fargo Force College Night is Jan. 26, with an opportunity to skate with the team after the game.
They also have ladies/men’s nights where ladies or men can get in for only $9, and BOGO nights where you can buy a ticket and get one free. However, the free ticket you get on a BOGO night must be used for that day’s game. They also have drink specials in Shooters, the in-rink bar, along with special promotions at Top Shelf, the arena’s apparel store, and concessions.
For those who are unable to make it to a home game, or who would like to watch an away game, the USHL has that covered. You can watch any USHL game online at ushl.fasthockey.com. The price for one online game is $7.99, but you can buy games in bulk at a discounted price.
BY LOGAN HUGHES