Game 54: Fuel at Fort Wayne

This had the makings of a big week for the Indy Fuel – a home game against a team they were chasing for playoff position, then two road games against one of the ECHL’s top teams.

The Fuel passed every test, extending their winning streak to four games with a wild 5-4 shootout victory at Fort Wayne, completing a weekend sweep of the Komets.

The Fuel now have evened their record at 23-23-8. They’ve also moved up to fourth place in the ECHL’s North Division, and are in playoff position at the three-fourths point of the season. Indy is 17-2-2 in its last 21 games, and has extended its streak of road games without a regulation loss to 13, at 11-0-2. The Fuel finished February with a 8-1-1 mark in the month, with eight of the 10 games against division foes.

Nick Bruneteau scored the lone goal in the five-round shootout – after having an apparent go-ahead goal waved off during the third period – and Mac Carruth stopped all five Komet attempts in the shootout to preserve the victory.

Carruth impressed throughout the evening, stopping a franchise-record 53 shots in regulation and overtime, including stuffing old friend Brett Perlini on a penalty shot 6:53 into the third to keep the game tied at 4-4.

The Fuel had a successful weekend despite playing shorthanded on the blueline – both games, the Fuel played with five defensemen due to a couple of AHL callups in the last couple of weeks, the most recent being Justin Holl’s callup on Thursday night.

The game started out well for Fort Wayne, which jumped ahead 2-0 in the first 12 minutes on goals by Matthew Pistilli and Shawn Szydlowski, the latter coming on the PP.

Indy answered with Chris DeSousa’s second goal in three games at 14:07 of the first, assisted by Pete Massar, setting the stage for a wild second period.

Trailing by a goal going into the second, the Fuel took a lead on a PPG by Evan Vossen at 8:39, and then a go-ahead goal by Massar at 12:47.

But Fort Wayne rallied to take a lead going into the third on an unassisted goal by Christian Ouellet and a last-minute tally by Szydlowski – his 25th of the year.

The third period started well for the Fuel – Indy went on the PP when James Martin was sent off for hooking at 2:27. Garett Bembridge scored on a blast 59 seconds into the PP to tie the game. Moments later, it appeared Bruneteau had put the Fuel ahead, but the goal was waved off due to Fort Wayne goaltender Roman Will being unable to make the save. Indy then had to dodge a bullet on Perlini’s penalty shot. The teams continued to trade chances through the end of regulation and OT, but Indy held on.

Boxscore
IndyFuelHockey.com story

3 stars

  1. Mac Carruth (Fuel) franchise-record 53 saves
  2. Shawn Szydlowski (FTW) 2G
  3. Christian Ouellet (FTW) G/A, 10 shots

Takeaways

  1. Indy is certainly familiar with OT – tonight marked the 16th overtime game for the Fuel. The Fuel have now won seven of their last eight games that have gone past 60:00, after dropping seven of their first eight. This weekend marked the last two of those wins.
  2. Again, a statement victory for the Fuel. Indy’s 17-2-2 stretch now includes three wins over division leaders – Fort Wayne and Allen. The Fuel and Komets had not played since the Fuel made a number of moves in January. The Fuel have been one of the hottest teams in pro hockey since mid-January, but especially in this weekend.
  3. 11-0-2 on the road. Unreal.
  4. The Fuel PP was spectacular tonight, going 2-for-3. The PP is now 5-13 in the last four games, all wins. That’s a 38.4% clip.
  5. Pete Massar had a goal and two assists in the contest. It marked his second three-point game of the year – the first came Dec. 13 at Florida – and continued a recent hot streak. He has points in 11 of his last 14 games. He has four goals and 10 assists in those games, and is 9-16-25 for the season.
  6. Chris DeSousa had his second multi-point game in three games after joining the Fuel on Tuesday. The Fuel have developed a lot of scoring depth of late, and DeSousa’s addition simply adds to that.
  7. Garett Bembridge had a goal and an assist to extend his scoring streak to four games, and give him 21 goals for the year (19 with the Fuel). He has eight multi-point games with the Fuel and nine for the season.
  8. Evan Vossen scored his second goal as a member of the Fuel, and had his third multi-point game as a Fuel player.
  9. Mike Duco had an assist to extend his scoring streak to four games.
  10. The Arseneau-Stroh-Bembridge line was pumping shots at Will – the trio had 13 of the Fuel’s 27 shots, including six from Arseneau and five from Bembridge.

Lineup
Based on the gamesheet
Vincent Arseneau-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Mike Duco-Evan Vossen-Pete Massar
Chris DeSousa-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Dean Chelios-Johnny McGuire

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

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Nicklas Lindberg, Garrett Klotz

Standings watch: The Fuel moved past Kalamazoo into fourth place and into playoff position, as the K-Wings lost to Toledo 7-4. Indy kept pace with Cincinnati, which beat Evansville 4-2, and gained a point on sixth-place Wheeling, which lost in OT to Greenville 4-3. Cincy is in third place with 55 points, the Fuel are in fourth with 54, the K-Wings in fifth with 53, and Wheeling in sixth with 51. Cincy and Kalamazoo have two games in hand on the Fuel, Wheeling has three.

Next up: It’s a three-game weekend for the Fuel next week, as they travel to Evansville on Friday, host Wheeling on Saturday, then visit Kalamazoo on Sunday. Two of those are four-point swing games against teams the Fuel are battling with for playoff position.