Game 53: Fuel at Fort Wayne

The Indy Fuel have been setting milestones throughout their 2015 push.

Tonight, they took another step, beating the North Division-leading Fort Wayne Komets 3-2 in overtime, securing their first-ever victory over the Komets and keeping them within a point of a playoff spot in the division.

Anders Franzon beat Komets goaltender Roman Will with 36 seconds left in overtime to secure the victory and improve the Fuel’s record to 22-23-8. Indy is now 16-2-2 in its last 20 games, and is 10-0-2 on the road in that stretch.

The victory was a big measuring-stick win for the Fuel, being able to defeat a division leader on the road. It was the first win over the Komets this season – but also marked a significantly different Fuel team than the one that faced Fort Wayne in their last meeting on Dec. 31. Seven of the 18 players who suited up for the Fuel tonight were not on the roster in that game.

One of those recent acquisitions, goaltender Shane Owen, made 33 saves to preserve the win.

Garett Bembridge scored his 20th goal of the season for the Fuel, and Nicklas Lindberg had three assists in the win. Franzon also had an assist for a two-point night.

Indy jumped ahead early, 19 seconds into its first power play, when Bembridge scored on assists from Nick Bruneteau and Lindberg at 7:02 of the first. Fort Wayne’s Kyle Thomas answered to make it a 1-1 game after one. The Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski made it 2-1 with a power play goal in the second. Fort Wayne had substantial pressure in the opening two periods, outshooting Indy 25-9. But the Fuel had an answer in the third. Franzon fed Mike Duco for the tying goal with 8:34 left, setting the stage for Franzon’s OT winner.

Roman Will stopped 13 shots in the Komets’ net.

The two teams play again Saturday night at the same venue, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Radio coverage will be available on WXNT-1430.

Boxscore
IndyFuelHockey.com story

3 stars

  1. Anders Franzon (Fuel) GWG, A
  2. Nicklas Lindberg (Fuel) 3A
  3. Shawn Szydlowski (FW) G

Takeaways

  1. The Fuel and Komets have played a number of close games, but it’s always good to get a win in the I-69 rivalry.
  2. Time for some milestones. It’s fitting the first win over the Komets was a 3-2 overtime win. The Indy-Fort Wayne rivalry predates I-69. It began on Oct. 18, 1955 with a 3-2 overtime win for the Indianapolis Chiefs against the Komets in the Allen County Coliseum. The most recent win for an Indy team in the rivalry was April 16, 1999, when the Ice beat the Komets 3-2 in a shootout in Fort Wayne in the last-ever meeting of those two longtime IHL rivals – a league both franchises would exit that summer.
  3. Garett Bembridge becomes the first Fuel player to hit the 20-goal plateau. The first two came while playing for Missouri, so he needs two more to become the first to hit 20 in a Fuel uniform, but a great milestone for him. It’s his fourth 20-goal season playing in North America.
  4. Anders Franzon’s game-winner was his second goal of the season – the first came Dec. 5 in a wild 7-6 loss to Florida – and clinched his second multi-point game in the last week. He also had two assists last Saturday against Elmira. It was his third multi-point game of the year.
  5. With an assist on the game’s first goal, Nick Bruneteau now has a three-game assist streak going. He has an assist in five of the Fuel’s last seven games, and hit the 30-point plateau with the tally. He has a 3-27-30 line this season.
  6. Mike Duco now has also scored goals in back-to-back games. The captain now has 14 for the season.
  7. When Nicklas Lindberg gets points, they come in bunches. Tonight marked his first 3-point game as a member of the Fuel. In 21 outings, he has tallied a point in seven games – but has five multi-point games out of those seven. He and Pete Massar were both +2 on the game.
  8. Shane Owen is now 3-0-1 in his last four starts and has a 1.43 GAA in that span, as well as a .957 save percentage. In eight starts with the Fuel, he’s now 5-2-1 with a 1.74 GAA. He has allowed two or fewer goals in each of the five wins. He and Mac Carruth have been a big part of the Fuel’s resurgence in 2015.
  9. The Fuel PP was 1-3. Fort Wayne’s was 1-2.

Lineup
With Justin Holl called up to Rockford on Thursday, the Fuel were down to five D. Lineups as can best be ascertained from the gamesheet.

Vincent Arseneau-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Mike Duco-Nicklas Lindberg-Pete Massar
Chris DeSousa-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Evan Vossen-Garrett Klotz

Sam Posa-Nick Bruneteau
Dan Ford-Anders Franzon
Nick Jones

Shane Owen
BU: Mac Carruth

Scratches: Dean Chelios, Johnny McGuire

Roster moves: Dean Chelios was activated from reserve, while Justin Holl was called up to AHL Rockford, giving the Fuel 3 D-men in Rockford (Holl, Dillon Fournier and Kirill Gotovets).

Standings watch: Wheeling beat Elmira 3-2 in a shootout, and Kalamazoo thumped Toledo 8-3, so both of those teams stayed pace with the Fuel. Cincinnati was idle. Cincy and Kalamazoo both have 53 points in 51 games and are in third and fourth, while the Fuel now have 52 points in 53 games. Wheeling has 50 points in 50 games. On Saturday, Wheeling hosts Greenville, Kalamazoo is in Toledo again, and Cincy visits Evansville.

Next up: One more in the back-to-back in Fort Wayne on Saturday night, then a trip to Evansville next Friday before a return home Saturday to face Wheeling.