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Latest roster additions for Fargo Force generating goal-scoring chances

Owen Mehlenbacher and Zam Plante are two of the Force's latest acquisitions from the in-season trade market.

Fargo Force's Zam Plante (right) skates against Waterloo Black Hawks' Patrick Geary during their U.S. Hockey League game Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

FARGO — Throwing on a new team’s sweater had little impact for a pair of the Fargo Force's newest additions.

Owen Mehlenbacher and Zam Plante are two of the Force's latest acquisitions from the in-season trade market. The duo have played in a combined 22 games and contributed 16 points for Fargo, which opens a three-game series at Tri-City at 7:05 p.m. Friday, March 24, in Kearney, Nebraska.

"It took me a game or two to figure it out," Mehlenbacher said of the transition to Fargo. "But I found my ground pretty quickly."

Mehlenbacher, who logged 31 games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, played in his first game with the Force on February 3 and picked up an assist. The Wisconsin commit has five goals and seven assists with Fargo and 16 goals and 20 assists in total between the two squads. The Detroit Red Wings picked him in the seventh-round pick of the 2022 NHL Draft.

Fargo Force's Owen Mehlenbacher pressures Waterloo Black Hawks' Emmett Croteau during their U.S. Hockey League game Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

The 6-foot-2 forward said it was surprising to find out about the move to Fargo after spending two-and-a-half seasons with Muskegon, but he knew about the Force's success throughout the season.


"It was definitely a shock," Mehlenbacher said. "But I knew it was going to be fun, they had a good team here and it was going to be a lot of fun that we're going to have a long run into the playoffs."

Plante, who was picked up on the last day of the trade deadline, has played in seven games with the Force and tallied four points on two goals and two assists. He played in 31 games in 2021-22 and 33 this season for the Chicago Steel and has totaled 10 goals and 17 assists on the year.

He noted that both Chicago and Fargo are high-caliber teams and the change of scenery came without too much difficulty.

“I had a lot of friends and connections (in Chicago) so leaving there is hard,” Plante said. “But coming here, I got a text from the guys right away so they brought me in right away. It was nice transitioning to Fargo.”

The Minnesota-Duluth commit played in the 2022 BioSteel All-American game and was the No. 40-ranked North American Skater in NHL Central Scouting’s Midseason Rankings. Plante was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round of the 2022 NHL Draft and is steadily getting more acquainted with the ebbs and flows of the Force’s game plan.

“Every game makes it a little easier to pick up on little things that the team does,” Plante said.

The Force also picked up Girts Silkalns in November from the Des Moines Buccaneers and Marian Mosko from the Lincoln Stars. Silkalns, a 6-foot-3 forward from Talsi, Latvia, has five goals and 13 assists in 29 games for Fargo. Mosko, from Zilina, Slovakia, has yet to record a point for the team.

Nick Oliver behind bench.jpg
Nick Oliver is in his first season as head coach of the Fargo Force. His team defeated the Tri-City Storm 4-0 on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
Rob Beer / The Rink Live

Head coach Nick Oliver said that, as a coach, helping players get used to their surroundings is key to easing the transition to a new team.


“Until you’re comfortable with your environment and your teammates and coaches it’s really hard to express yourself," Oliver said. “Not just your personality, but also your game, and I think that’s something that doesn’t always come quick.”

With hopes of lighting a fire underneath his team, Oliver said the team’s newbies add plenty of key components as the season winds down.

“It shows that the organization is committed to putting this group in the best possible position to be successful,” Oliver said. “Everyone was excited about that and being able to get deeper, get better, and add new quality players to help us down the stretch.”

The two players said they enjoy playing in Fargo and like where the team is heading in the latter half of the season-long campaign.

“It’s how much we care,” Plante said. “We took a loss on Saturday night and you can tell the guys are dialed in and want to get back at it this weekend.”

After graduating from North Dakota State University, Haugland joined the Forum in January of 2023. Readers can reach him at 701-241-5508 or by emailing ahaugland@forumcomm.com
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