Monday, March 9, 2009

Report Card: Fargo Force

Team Record: 28-20-3

Total Points: 59

Goal Leader: Andy Taranto - 23

Assist Leader: Matt Leitner - 34

Points Leader: Matt Leitner - 46

PIM Leader: Jake Areshenko - 111

+/- Leader: Luke Witkowski - +29

Wins Leader: Mike Lee - 22

Fargo's goalie situation was crowded when the team first started participating in the league. They had tendered Cody Campbell and Mike Lee, drafted Matt Hemingway, and held the rights to Ohio standout goalie Pasquale Terrazzano. If that wasn't enough, Dean Blais ended up adding another goalie in Tyler Bruggeman. Lee was the most hyped and made the tough decision to leave Roseau for a year in the USHL. Fargo ended up releasing Terrazzano and left Hemingway on their affiliated list, deciding to go with three goalies. Mike Lee has seen the bulk of the action and has posted some good numbers. He struggled a bit out of the gate, as he went 1-4 in his first 5 USHL games. Since that time, he has gone an impressive 21-9-3. Lee is arguably the best goalie prospect in the USHL right now, and quite possibly the best in recent memory. Cody Campbell has been the backup for much of the season, and has posted respectable numbers for such a young player. He is 6-6 in 14 appearances this season. Tyler Bruggeman has appeared in just one game, and that was at the Ice Box in Lincoln. He played well, despite the loss, stopping 37 Lincoln shots.

The Force defense is led by Ohio holdovers Luke Witkowski and Steve Spinell. Both are big and physical in their end, and both have racked up over 100 PIM this season. A surprise for me has been Eamonn McDermott. He's very small, so I wasn't sure how he'd adjust to the size and pace of the USHL, but he has done a tremendous job for the Force and has adapted quite well.

Fargo's offense is loaded with lots of young and talented forwards. Leading that pack is highly touted Josh Birkholz. Birkholz is a projected 1st round NHL draft pick and is a Minnesota Golden Gopher recruit. He has been fairly consistent this whole year so far and capped his season with a four goal performance against Chicago. Colten St. Clair is a kid out of Arizona and he has lots of potential. Already committed to Colorado College, St. Clair has posted a respectable 18 points in his rookie campaign. Nate Condon is yet another young gun on this Fargo squad. He is a draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, and is averaging roughly a point every other game. Rounding out my group of young guns for this team is point leader Matt Leitner. Yes, I know he's not a rookie, but he's still just 18 and is a great player.

Team Grade: B+

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