Game 62: Fuel at South Carolina

The South Carolina Stingrays are in the midst of several historic runs heretofore unseen in the ECHL.

The Indy Fuel got a first-hand glimpse of that Friday night.

The Fuel gave a solid effort, but fell to the Stingrays 4-0 at the North Charleston Coliseum.

South Carolina extended its ECHL-record winning streak to 20 games, and goaltender Jeff Jakaitis set a league record with his fourth consecutive shutout. He stopped 35 shots to extend his shutout string to 319:32 – the longest all-time in North American minor pro hockey.

Brett Cameron – who was playing just his second pro game after finishing his college career at Alaska-Anchorage – scored twice for the Stingrays, and Wayne Simpson had the game-winning goal for South Carolina 6:22 into the first period.

Indy generated a sizable shot advantage – outshooting the Stingrays 35-22 for the game, 14-10 in the first period, 10-7 in the second and 11-5 in the third – but couldn’t solve Jakaitis, a 31-year-old veteran who was named an ECHL First-Team All-Star a year ago.

The Fuel’s offense came from down the middle – Matt White led the Fuel attack with seven shots on goal. Kyle Stroh had six shots.

Simpson gave the Stingrays a lead 6:22 into the game, and Cameron followed less than five minutes later to make it 2-0. Tim Spencer made it 3-0 with a second-period tally, and Cameron scored in the third to make it a 4-0 game. Forward Patrick Gaul had two assists for the Stingrays.

Mac Carruth stopped 18 of 22 shots in the Fuel net.

Indy was 0-3 on the PP, while the Fuel killed off the Stingrays’ lone power play.

The Fuel are now 25-28-9, and conclude their two-game South Carolina roadtrip with a Saturday game at Greenville.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Jeff Jakaitis (SC) 35 saves, shutout
  2. Brett Cameron (SC) 2G, 5 shots, +2
  3. Patrick Gaul (SC) 2A, 4 shots, +3

Takeaways

  1. South Carolina is a red-hot team. The Fuel were able to beat them the last trip, but the Stingrays have been getting really good goaltending, which has fueled its streak. The 20 straight wins make the Stingrays the second team in North American pro hockey to reach that number. Per the ECHL, the AHL Norfolk Admirals’ 28-game win streak in 2011-12 is the only other pro hockey 20-game win streak.
  2. Add to that, Jakaitis’ streak is just 12:29 shy of becoming the longest in North American pro hockey history. Brian Boucher of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes had a 332:01 shutout streak in 2003-04.
  3. Peter Schneider, a college free agent who recently completed his NCAA career at Notre Dame, signed Friday and made his pro debut. He had two shots on goal and an even +/-. Schneider, who hails from Vienna, Austria, has played 3 different levels of hockey in the Hoosier state – junior (Indiana Ice), college (Notre Dame) and now pro (Indy Fuel).
  4. As noted above, the centers were providing a lot of offense – with Matt White and Kyle Stroh generating 13 shots on goal between them.
  5. The Fuel have hit a part of the schedule against some really good teams – and is now 0-3-1 in its last four games, its longest streak without a win since prior to making substantial lineup changes in early January. Even going 1-5-1 in the last seven, the Fuel are 19-7-3 since Jan. 11.
  6. The shutout tonight was a rare one – it broke a 36-game scoring streak for the Fuel, and was their third of the year. The last time they had been shut out was by Toledo’s Jeff Lerg on Dec. 19.
  7. Coupled with Wheeling’s win tonight, the Fuel are now 3 points out of a playoff spot, making tomorrow’s game at Greenville extra crucial.

Lineup
Peter Schneider made his debut for the Fuel. Forward lines were changed throughout the night, so the three trios listed here are largely to note positions. DeSousa-Duco-Massar started the game. D pairings remained the same as they have been.

Chris DeSousa-Mike Duco-Pete Massar
Jamie Wise-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Evan Vossen-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Peter Schneider

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

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Nicklas Lindberg, Garrett Klotz, Quinn Sproule (res), Johnny McGuire (res)

Roster moves: The Fuel signed Notre Dame (and former Indiana Ice) forward Peter Schneider to an amateur tryout offer on Friday. Defenseman Quinn Sproule was placed on reserve.

Standings watch: Kalamazoo beat Fort Wayne 4-3 to solidify its hold on third place. Wheeling beat Elmira 2-1 in a shootout to vault Cincinnati into fourth place. Cincinnati lost to Greenville 4-1 – its second straight loss to the Road Warriors. On Saturday, Kalamazoo travels to Toledo, Cincinnati is at South Carolina, Wheeling travels to Elmira and the Fuel visit Greenville. Standings: 3rd-Kalamazoo (67 points-10 games left); 4th-Wheeling (62 pts-12GL); 5th-Cincinnati (60pts-11GL); 6th-Indy (59pts-10GL).

Next up: A Saturday trip to Greenville before returning home to meet Reading and South Carolina next weekend.