The Indy Fuel had one of their best starts of the season Friday night, and eventually skated away from the Pocket City with two points in the hip pocket after a 5-4 shootout victory over the Evansville IceMen.
Indy scored four first-period goals on Evansville’s Braden Komm, but saw the IceMen come roaring back to tie the game, before Pete Massar scored in the eighth round of the shootout to win it.
As a result, the Fuel moved to 24-23-8, going above .500 for the first time this season, and are now just a point out of a playoff spot and two points back of third. They’ve now won five straight games – three straight of which have gone beyond 60 minutes, and four of them on the road – and continue to extend their incredible streak of road games without a regulation loss to 14 games (12-0-2).
This one started out beautifully for the Fuel – Kyle Stroh opened things up with his 18th of the year at 7:31 of the first. Nick Jones added a tally less than three minutes later. Matt White and Mike Duco added goals two minutes apart late in the period to give the Fuel a 4-1 edge after one. At that point, Komm was replaced by IceMen ironman Chris Driedger in net.
Evansville rallied, with Brandon Martell scoring late in the second, and then Peter Sakaris scoring his second goal of the game five minutes into the third to cut the lead to one. Zack Currie tied the game with 9:24 left in the third, and Evansville outshot the Fuel 19-8 in the third period. Chris DeSousa nearly won it for Indy with a late rebound in regulation, but the teams went through regulation and the five-minute OT tied.
In the shootout, Nicklas Lindberg and Garett Bembridge scored for Indy in the first five rounds, while Myles Bell and Braden Pimm did the same for the IceMen. After Fuel goaltender Shane Owen held the fort on three straight shooters, Massar went 5-hole on Driedger to end it.
Owen made 41 saves on 45 shots to record the victory. Komm allowed four goals on 15 shots in the first period, but Driedger stopped all 19 shots he saw over the final two periods, as the IceMen outshot the Fuel 45-35.
- Peter Sakaris (EVV) 2G
- Mike Duco (Fuel) G, A
- Zack Currie (EVV) GTG, A
- Indy has now beaten Evansville six straight times, and is now 7-1-1 on the season against the IceMen. One game remains in the season series, next Friday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Of the nine meetings, four have gone past regulation.
- The last time the Fuel lost a road game in regulation was Jan. 10 at Toledo – nearly two full months ago. The road points streak started the next day with a 3-0 win over Wheeling and hasn’t stopped.
- That’s five straight wins for the Fuel, and three straight that have gone past 60 minutes. The Fuel have now won six of their last seven OT/SO games, and are 9-8 in the extra session/shootout. The Fuel’s 17 games in OT/SO are a league high.
- Everyone contributed in that four-goal onslaught in the first period – nine different players got on the scoresheet. Mike Duco had a goal and an assist, and was the one player with a multi-point game. Duco recorded his first multipoint game since Dec. 5 against Florida, when he had two goals and an assist, and extended his scoring streak to four games. He also had a team-high 8 SOG.
- Duco isn’t the only player with a four-game scoring streak. His linemate, Nicklas Lindberg, also has a four-game scoring streak going, His assist tonight gives him a 1-6-7 line in those four games.
- Kyle Stroh snapped a two-game scoreless streak with his 18th goal of the season (and 11th in a Fuel sweater).
- Chris DeSousa has played four pro games. He’s tallied a point in three of them – the third being an assist on the first goal tonight.
- Welcome back, Hollsy. In his first game after a brief callup to Rockford, Justin Holl extended his ECHL scoring streak to three games with an assist.
- Garrett Klotz played and recorded his first point since Nov. 9 with an assist on the Fuel’s fourth goal.
- With the Fuel down to five defenseman, Evan Vossen took some shifts on the blueline tonight, and tallied an assist.
As best as can be deduced from the scoresheet
Chris DeSousa-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Nicklas Lindberg-Mike Duco-Pete Massar
Dean Chelios-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Saverio Posa-Justin Holl
Anders Franzon-Nick Jones
Evan Vossen-Nick Bruneteau
BU: Mac Carruth
Scratches: Vincent Arseneau, Johnny McGuire
Roster moves: Rockford assigned Justin Holl to the Fuel earlier this week, and Jamie Wise was loaned to the Fuel by Rockford on Friday. Forward Dean Chelios was activated from reserve and Dan Ford placed on reserve.
Standings watch: Only one team in the chase for playoff position was active tonight – Kalamazoo lost 3-0 to Fort Wayne. Cincinnati and Wheeling were both idle. Tomorrow, the Fuel will host Wheeling in a critical four-point game, then travel to Kalamazoo on Sunday.