The Indy Fuel returned home Wednesday night and had some really strong jump early, but eventually dropped a 6-4 decision to the Reading Royals at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Matt White had a goal and an assist. Dillon Fournier, Kirill Gotovets and Rhett Bly also had goals, and Dean Chelios added two assists for the Fuel, who built a 3-1 lead in the opening two periods before the Royals rallied to tie the game at 3-3 in the final 1:27 of the second and score the go-ahead goal with 5:34 left in the third. Reading sandwiched two empty-netters around a goal by Fournier in the game’s final two minutes.
Indy is now 5-14-5 heading into Friday’s home game against the Toledo Walleye.
The Fuel got off to a great start. Just 77 seconds into the game, Chelios fired a shot that was stopped by Reading’s Martin Ouellette, but Bly pounced on the rebound in the crease and pushed it into the net for his fifth goal of the year. Bly appeared to score again at 8:16 of the first, but his goal was ruled to have been directed into the net with his glove, and disallowed. Indy dominated the opening minutes, outshooting Reading 7-2 through the game’s first 10:00.
Less than two minutes after Reading’s Cam Reid tied the game with a weak-side rebound goal at 17:56 of the first, the Fuel executed a perfect breakout and Kirill Gotovets cashed in with 5.4 seconds to go in the opening period, giving the Fuel a 2-1 lead.
The Fuel’s PK had to be big in the early part of the second – killing off an early tripping minor to Patrick Cullen, and later a major penalty given to Klarc Wilson. Indy killed both off both, and took a 3-1 lead when Garett Bembridge stole the puck at the blueline and made a creative pivot past the defenseman to gain zone entry, then fed White streaking down the middle for White’s fifth goal of the year with 4:33 left in the second. Fournier helped preserve the lead with a perfect play on a 2-on-1 to prevent Reading from getting a shot.
“We did a heck of a job killing that off,” Hillman said of the major. “We drew one penalty and did a heck of a job killing the rest of it off once the 4-on-4 was over. We just built off that, for the time being, at least mentally.”
But the Royals rallied, as Olivier Labelle scored from the point with 1:27 to go, and Ryan Cruthers scored the first of his two goals with 4.1 seconds showing on the clock to tie the game at 3-3.
“A couple of breakdowns that can’t happen,” Hillman said. “It’s frustrating because it’s a different guy each time. It’s easy to fix if it’s the same guy. Late in the second period, when you get at times caught, because it’s tougher to change, a little bit longer change, you really have to think and prepare to do that hard work. Unfortunately, a few guys missed those assignments.”
In the third, both teams had opportunities — the Fuel had three power plays, and Fuel goaltender Mac Carruth stopped Kevin Walrod on a breakaway. But the game remained tied until 5:34 was left, when a promising rush by the Fuel was broken up and turned the other way by Reading. Sean Wiles took the puck up the left side, cut in on goal past the defenseman and scored to make it 4-3. Reading made it 5-3 with an empty-netter by Cruthers that turned out to be the game-winner, Fournier scored on a double-deflection to make it 5-4 with :48 left, but Walrod sealed it with an empty-netter with :24 to go.
Carruth, who was reassigned from Rockford earlier in the day, stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Ouellette also stopped 28 of the 32 he saw in the Reading net.
- Ryan Cruthers (REA) 2 goals, GWG
- David Marshall (REA) 2 assists, +1
- Sean Wiles (REA) goal, assist, +3
- The Fuel continue to play close games, and they are now 2-10-5 in games decided by a goal (or where empty-netters made the margin more than one goal).
- Gotovets’ goal at the end of the first was a perfect breakout in motion. The play began behind the Indy net in the final 20 seconds, and ended up in the Reading net with 5.4 seconds to go in the period. The line with he, Robert Czarnik and Garett Bembridge developed solid chemistry. “Goto had a great night for sure. They were clicking, they were moving the puck well, and they also had a good night in our zone.”
- All three of Gotovets’ goals this season have come against Reading.
- Rhett Bly, Dillon Fournier and Garett Bembridge led the Fuel with four shots each.
- The first 38 minutes were great for the Fuel. They were defensively responsible, Mac Carruth came up with some timely saves when he needed to, and they were able to generate a number of scoring chances besides the three that ended up in the net (and the fourth that did, but was later waved off).
- Indy was 4-4 on the PK, none bigger than a 5-minute major in the second period which the Fuel not only allowed few chances to the Royals, but also induced a penalty on Reading to rub off two of the five minutes of PP time. The Fuel PP was 0-3.
- The kids are all right. Holl has now tallied points in three straight games. Fellow rookie defenseman Fournier has done the same, and has had either a goal or an assist in three of the four games he’s played since returning from Rockford. “Dillon has continued to improve, and last three games have been three of his best games,” Hillman said.
Kirill Gotovets-Robert Czarnik-Garett Bembridge
Mike Duco-Patrick Cullen-Pete Massar
Dean Chelios-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Anders Franzon-Nick Bruneteau
Dillon Fournier-Mathieu Brisebois
Dan Ford-Justin Holl
B: Eric Levine
Roster moves: Indy made two roster moves on Wednesday. Goaltender Mac Carruth was reassigned from Rockford to the Fuel, and goaltender Cody Reichard was placed on the reserve list. Also, Rockford announced on Wednesday that forward Jamie Wise has been recalled to the IceHogs.
Next up: The Fuel host the Toledo Walleye at 7:35 p.m. Friday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Earlier in the evening, the team will host a Fish Fry (I’m sure some walleye will be fried) starting at 5 p.m. in the Grand Hall. On Saturday, the Fuel will head to Fort Wayne to finish a four-game week.