The Indy Fuel saw the Toledo Walleye for the first time on Friday, and saw the visitors use a three-goal flurry in a 3:15 span of the second period to beat the Fuel 4-0.
Toledo’s Jeff Lerg made 25 saves – several of the spectacular variety against the Fuel’s storm – to record his second shutout of the season. Toledo remained in first place in the ECHL’s North Division with the victory. Tyler Barnes had a goal and three assists for the Walleye. Troy Schwab had a goal and two assists, including the game-winner 3:33 into the contest.
Indy had a number of chances, but Lerg was up to the challenge on all of them.
“The biggest difference at the end of the day is us not burying our high-quality chances,” Fuel coach Scott Hillman said. “If we bury our quality scoring chances like they buried theirs, it’s a pretty good hockey game and maybe we win it.”
Schwab made it 1-0 at the 3:33 mark, with a goal after Carruth came off his line to make a solid save on Shane Berschbach from in tight.
“The first goal, we get a guy injured on the play who has to retreat to the bench, and it causes a little bit of a mis-position scramble,” Hillman said. “We missed our assignments near the net blocking out, which gave the quality chance that Mac saved, then it scooted beside the net and it comes to the open side. The rest of the period was solid.”
The Walleye’s offense came quickly in the second period, as they dug for three goals on three of their first four shots of the middle frame. At 1:30, just six seconds after the Fuel successfully killed off their second Toledo power play, Martin Frk fired a shot over the blocker from the mid-slot. At 2:54, Kyle Bonis sniped a shot under the crossbar after a defensive zone turnover to make it 3-0, creating a 2-on-1 in the defensive zone. The Walleye made it 4-0 with a shorthanded goal by Barnes on a rebound at 4:45 of the second.
From there, the Fuel had several chances to get on the board, but the Walleye goaltender was up to the challenge on each. He stuffed Garett Bembridge twice on one-vs-goalie situations — once on a shorthanded 2-on-1 and once on a breakaway, where Bembridge deked to the backhand but Lerg was able to get his blocker on it. Bembridge also set up a handful of solid chances on a third-period power play.
“I don’t know how awesome the first breakaway was, but I know the second one was incredible. (Lerg) made an incredible save,” Hillman said. “Mac made some incredible saves for us, and their guy made some incredible saves.”
Carruth’s biggest stop of the night came to thwart a breakaway by Toledo’s Justin Mercier late in the second period. He had 26 saves.
“Our goalies come to battle every night,” Fuel captain Mike Duco said. “We have two good goaltenders we believe in. We have to tighten it out in front of them.”
The Fuel had other chances. Patrick Cullen also had a second-period tip in front of the net that Lerg got a pad on, trickled through the crease and just missed the far post on a play that started with Nick Bruneteau’s interception at center.
A bright spot for the Fuel was the penalty kill, which held a PP that has been scoring on nearly one-third of its power plays off the scoreboard. Toledo was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
“We put a lot of pressure on them (on the PK) tonight,” Fuel captain Mike Duco said. “We knew they were an offensive team and they’re pretty skilled. When we’re struggling a bit on the power play, you’ve got to tighten it up on the penalty kill and vice-versa. We’ve got to figure out how to play an overall game and a full 60 minutes.”
The Fuel (5-15-5) travel to Fort Wayne to face the Komets for a Saturday night clash at 7:35 p.m. Listen to the game on WXNT-1430.
- Tyler Barnes (TOL) G, 3A
- Jeff Lerg (TOL) 25 saves, shutout
- Troy Schwab (TOL) G, 2A
Johnny McGuire was activated from IR and was in the lineup for the first time since October. The forward lines and defense pairings looked fairly familiar.
Kirill Gotovets-Robert Czarnik-Garett Bembridge
Mike Duco-Patrick Cullen-Pete Massar
Dean Chelios-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Anders Franzon-Nick Bruneteau
Dan Ford-Justin Holl
Mathieu Brisebois-Dillon Fournier
B: Cody Reichard
Next up: The Fuel visit Fort Wayne on Saturday, then return home from the Christmas break to play the Cincinnati Cyclones on Dec. 26-27, both games at 7:35 p.m. at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.