The Ice dropped a 5-3 decision to the Fargo Force on Saturday night, clinching third place in the USHL's East Division for the Ice. They will host all games in the first-round best-of-3 series against either Waterloo, Youngstown or Muskegon in two weeks.
The Ice are 36-18-4, and they'll have a huge hand in determining who they'll play, as they face both Muskegon and Youngstown on the road next weekend to close the regular season.
Fargo did its damage in the opening and closing minutes of the periods -- four of Fargo's five goals came in either the first or 20th minute of a period. Fargo jumped ahead 2-0 in the first, scoring on a goal by Chad Demers 22 seconds in and a shorthanded goal by Jimmy Mullin -- assisted by Demers -- with 38 seconds left. Tanner Kero made it 3-0 early in the second. The Ice chopped the deficit to one goal twice -- David Johnstone and Daniil Tarasov scored second-period power-play goals 1:05 apart, the first coming on a 5-on-3 -- but Fargo was able to answer. A goal with 19 seconds left in the second made it 4-2. Jarrod Rabey cut the deficit to one with 2:59 left, but Mullin scored an empty-netter to make it 5-3.
Demers and Mullin had big nights for Fargo -- Mullin had two goals and two assists, Demers had a goal and three assists.
Tarasov extended his scoring streak to nine games with a goal and an assist, giving him 36 of each for the year. USHL scoring leader Blake Coleman assisted on Tarasov's goal, extending his streak to six games.
The Ice were 2-for-5 on the power play, but Fargo also scored a shorthanded goal. The Force were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Casey DeSmith made 28 saves in goal for the Ice. Fargo's Ryan Massa stopped 30 shots to get the victory.
Fargo is now 33-21-4, and is just two points back of second-place Sioux Falls. Fargo also swept the two-game season series from the Ice.