MUSKEGON, MI - Fargo left freezing North Dakota for cold Michigan to take on the Muskegon Lumberjacks Friday.
No one remembered to warm up the hockey sticks for either side in the process.
The only things hot on the ice at L.C. Walker Arena were the respective goalies, and Muskegon's Brandon Bussi and Fargo's Ryan Bischel staged one heck of a goaltending duel.
Neither team could find the net through 65 minutes, and the two goalies battled equal through nine shootout rounds before Bischel made the game-winning save in the 10th round for a 1-0 shootout win for the Force.
Fargo improves to 19-13-1-2 and 41 points and pulls into a tie with Sioux City for fifth in the Western Conference.
Muskegon suffers its first shootout loss of the season and drops to 27-7-2-1. Its 57 points still leads the USHL by one over Western Conference-leading Tri-City and is 12 points better than East runner-up Chicago.
The Lumberjacks will look to find their offense Saturday night at home against the talented Team USA U18 squad.
Bussi was at the top of his game against the Force and was still credited with his seventh shutout of the season despite the shootout loss.
Fargo outshot Muskegon 17-7 in the opening period, but Bussi turned them all aside.
The Lumberjacks found their skates in the final two periods and overtime, trading scoring chances with the Force before garnering the majority of the scoring chances down the stretch. The hosts outshot the Force 10-6 in the third period and 5-3 in overtime.
Fargo shooters Ben Meyers (2nd shooter), AJ Drobot (8th round) and Libor Zabransky (10th round) all scored to help their team improve to 3-2 in shootouts.
Danil Gushchin (3rd shooter) and Alex Gaffney (8th round) both came through under pressure to extend the shootout, but the Lumberjacks still fell to 2-1 in shootouts.
Egor Afanasyev and Max Ellis both made good moves to beat Bischel, but the puck rolled off their sticks before they could put them in the back of the net.
Muskegon finishes its season series with Fargo at 1-0-1, including its 4-3 win in the first game of the season at the end of September.
For the complete USHL standings, click here.