Cole Knuble leads the way as the Fargo Force look to achieve their ultimate goal and win the Clark Cup
Cole Knuble has six goals and nine points through six playoff games. From timely goals to key faceoffs, Knuble has done it all
LINCOLN, Neb. — Cole Knuble led Fargo during the regular season with 30 goals and 66 points, earning First Team All-USHL honors.
However, the Notre Dame commit has found another gear in the playoffs with six goals and nine points through six playoff games.
From timely goals to key faceoffs, or heady defensive plays, Knuble has done it.
“He’s unbelievable and it’s been awesome to see him getting rewarded right now,” said Bret Link, one of Knuble’s linemates. “I’ve played over 100 games with him now over the last two years and he’s such a special player. He gives it his all every night and it’s not just on the ice, it’s in the locker room and he’s a great leader.
“He’s a great player, a great person and there’s nobody I’d rather call a brother.”
This has been Knuble’s second full USHL season and his second with the Force. He racked up 20 goals and 49 points in 62 games last season but has seen his production increase in year two. Along with his speed, strength and leadership role in Fargo’s locker room.
“Cole is the same person and competitor every single day, and his teammates gravitate towards him and look up to him for that,” said Fargo head coach Nick Oliver. “He just goes about his work and sets a great example whether it’s on the ice or off the ice.
“He’s taken a huge step this year and he’s someone we’re going to continue to lean on.”
The Force leaned on Knuble in a big way Monday night as he scored four goals — including a third-period hat trick — in Fargo’s 8-4 win over Lincoln.
The win clinched the Western Conference title and sent Fargo to the Clark Cup Finals for the sixth time in franchise history — where the Force will play Youngstown starting Friday night.
One college coach quipped “thank God he’s not coming to our conference” outside the Fargo locker room after Monday’s game. A media member mentioned during the first intermission that they still couldn’t believe Knuble went undrafted last summer.
Knuble turned heads with an incredible individual effort on his first-period goal and took the game over in the third. Something he's done multiple times this postseason.
“Just another big-time performance,” Oliver said after Monday’s win. “Cole is such a quality player and leader and I think through this run he’s continued to be exactly that. He elevated his game again tonight and he’s just continued to get better.”
“He’s honestly the calmest player I’ve ever played with,” added teammate Owen Mehlenbacher, who scored twice in Monday’s win. “He’s such a smart player and he uses his skill to his advantage. He can play in every situation, he always makes the right play and it’s been so much fun to play with him and see the strides he’s taken lately.”
Individually, the right-shot forward has continued to elevate his game throughout the 2022-23 season. As a team, the Force have too.
Fargo finished the regular season with the league’s best record and has won five of its first six playoff games. Now Knuble will try to lead the Anderson Cup champs to three more wins and their ultimate goal.
“I think back to September and I remembered we had two-a-days on the ice and in the weight room every day, and that’s where it all started,” Knuble said. “It’s all led up to this moment and I think everyone in this room has had the determination and work ethic to get to this point.
“We’ve been through a lot this season and I’m so proud of this group, but we're not done yet."