The Indy Fuel began a critical late-season four-game week Tuesday with the annual greening of the ice game in Kalamazoo. But more important than a St. Patrick’s Day stunt that’s now 34 years old for the K-Wings were two key points in the standings.
Indy rallied several times, but K-Wings Patrick Kennedy and Ludwig Blomstrand scored 19 seconds apart in the third period to break a tie and give Kalamazoo a 5-3 victory Tuesday at Wings Stadium.
The Fuel are now 25-26-9 with 12 games left, and are in sixth place in the ECHL’s North Division. They remain just one point back of Cincinnati and Wheeling for fourth place and the last playoff spot. Kalamazoo is now five points ahead of Cincy and Wheeling and six ahead of the Fuel.
As has been its M.O. all season, Indy showed some significant resilience. Kalamazoo led 1-0 after a period on Justin Taylor’s goal, and made it 2-0 5:26 into the second when Michael Neal scored his 17th of the year.
But Indy rallied – Nick Jones scored 1:18 later, and Chris DeSousa tallied a PPG at 11:43 to tie the game. Gergo Nagy made it a 3-2 Kalamazoo lead at 13:54 of the second.
Again, Indy rallied. With Jeramie Blain in the box for the second time in the period, Garett Bembridge buried his 25th goal of the season with 6:46 left in the game to tie the contest, but Kennedy scored 65 seconds later to break the tie, and Blomstrand scored an unassisted goal moments after.
Bembridge was one of two Fuel players to tally a multi-point game, as he also assisted on DeSousa’s goal in the second. Nicklas Lindberg also had assists on the Fuel’s last two goals.
Mac Carruth made 17 saves in the Fuel net. Joel Martin stopped 21 of 24 shots for Kalamazoo.
The Fuel were 2-4 on the PP, while they were also a perfect 3-for-3 on the PK.
- Patrick Kennedy (KAL) GWG
- Garett Bembridge (Fuel) G, A
- Gergo Nagy (KAL) G, +2
- One might expect a game between two playoff contenders to be closely-played. Certainly was the case tonight – Indy had 24 shots, Kalamazoo 22 in the game.
- Kalamazoo hasn’t punched its ticket yet, but some really strong play over the last couple of weeks has given it a leg up in the playoff race and a little bit of separation – although five points isn’t much – from the remainder of the teams chasing it. The Fuel and Kalamazoo are now 2-2 against each other in their meetings over the last month, with one meeting remaining in the Fuel’s home finale.
- Defenseman Quinn Sproule made his debut with the Fuel. He had one shot and was minus-1.
- The Fuel’s PP has been strong throughout the year, but tonight was the first game with multiple PPG since March 7 against Wheeling, marking the second time in five games and third time in seven that the Fuel have tallied two PPG.
- Ludwig Blomstrand has been pretty big for Kalamazoo in the series – he now has five goals and seven points in the five head-to-head games between the teams this season.
- DeSousa-Stroh-Bembridge continues to generate a lot of offense for the Fuel – the trio combined for 10 shots on goal, two goals and an assist in the game.
- Garett Bembridge has been hot of late – he had his fourth multi-point game in the last seven tonight, and his eighth game in 10 with a point.
- Nick Bruneteau adds to his team-high assists count – he has 31 now with the first assist on Bembridge’s game-tying goal in the third.
- Nick Jones now has two goals and an assist in six games in March.
- Pete Massar had an assist and now has points in four of his last five and 14 of his last 20 games.
- When Nicklas Lindberg scores, he does in bunches. Tonight marked his seventh multi-point game of the season. He now has points in eight of his last nine games, and since the start of February, he has five goals and 13 assists in 15 games – more than a point-a-game pace.
- Chris DeSousa has played nine games in the ECHL, and tallied points in seven of them. His goal tonight gives him nine points in those nine contests.
Based on the gamesheet
Chris DeSousa-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Mike Duco-Nicklas Lindberg-Pete Massar
Jamie Wise-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Saverio Posa-Nick Bruneteau
Anders Franzon-Nick Jones
Quinn Sproule-Justin Holl
BU: Shane Owen
Scratches: Garrett Klotz, Dan Ford, Johnny McGuire (res)
Standings watch: Wheeling lost in a shootout to Toledo, so the Nailers gained a point on the Fuel. Kalamazoo is now in third place with 65 points (11 to play). Wheeling and Cincinnati are both tied for fourth with 60 points and 13 games to play. Indy is in sixth with 59 points and 12 games left. On Wednesday, Indy is the only team in action in the four-team playoff race, hosting Fort Wayne. Cincinnati is in action Thursday at Greenville.
Next up: The Fuel host Fort Wayne on Wednesday for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop, then travel to South Carolina and Greenville this weekend.