Game 4: Fuel at Fort Wayne

The Indy Fuel’s first three games were tight contests featuring solid defense and strong goaltending.

Game 4 was totally different – an offensive show between the Fuel and Fort Wayne Komets, one that saw four ties and the lead change three times before Alex Belzile scored for Fort Wayne with 22 seconds left in OT to give the hosts a 6-5 win over the Fuel.

The game featured everything – a penalty shot goal by Rhett Bly, a shorthanded goal by the Komets among the three on special teams, a Fuel rally from two goals down to take the lead, an extra-attacker tally in the final minute by Fort Wayne’s Peter Sivak to tie it, and fittingly, a 3-on-3 overtime.

Dylan Clarke had a four-point game for the Fuel, with a goal and three assists. His power play tally with 8:42 left in the third gave Indy a 5-4 lead and looked to be a potential game-winner before Sivak was able to tie the game with the extra attacker with 56 seconds left.

Bly had two goals for the Fuel. Kyle Stroh and Garett Bembridge also pushed pucks past Pat Nagle, the Komets’ second-year starter. Defenseman Kevin Quick had two assists.

Stroh started the scoring 8:12 into the first with a goal, burying a rebound off assists from Clarke and Quick. Trevor Cheek answered with the first of his two goals shorthanded at 13:55, but the Fuel answered when Bly was taken down on a breakaway. He buried the penalty shot to give Indy a 2-1 lead after a period.

Fort Wayne stormed back, scoring three times in the second to take the lead back at 4-2 on Cheek’s second goal of the game and third of the weekend, and two goals by Jordan Southorn – the first a PP tally. Fort Wayne held a 12-2 shot advantage at one point in the second, and outshot the Fuel 17-8 in the period.

Indy rallied, as Garett Bembridge rifled one home from Clarke and Anders Franzon just 40 seconds after Southorn’s second goal, cutting the deficit to 4-3 with 7:11 left in the second. Bly then tied it up going into the third.

Fort Wayne held a 19-8 shot advantage in the third, but Clarke’s goal with 8:42 left looked to stand up. The Fuel earlier killed off a penalty, and then went on the PP when Cody Sol was sent off for interference. Peter Schneider fed Clarke, with Quick getting the second assist.

Sivak scored to tie it in the final minute, and then Belzile scored his second game-winner in as many nights on the Komets’ fourth shot of overtime.

Mac Carruth was busy in the Fuel net, stopping 44 shots in regulation, and 47 in the game. He is now 1-0-1 in his two starts. Pat Nagle stopped 22 of 27 for Fort Wayne.

The Fuel are now 2-1-1 on the season and conclude their four-game road swing Tuesday in Kalamazoo. They return home next Friday to face Fort Wayne.

Boxscore
(Local media coverage: IndyFuelHockey.comFort Wayne News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette)

3 stars

  1. Jordan Southorn (FTW) 2G
  2. Shawn Szydklowski (FTW) 4A
  3. Trevor Cheek (FTW) 2G, A

Takeaways

  1. We knew the Fuel could play defense – holding teams to four goals against a goaltender through three games. This was a big offensive night, and the Fuel got scoring from a lot of different points, with Clarke, Bly, Bembridge and Stroh all finding the net.
  2. Clarke had the first four-point game for the Fuel since Stroh potted one against Greenville back on Jan. 16, which was his fifth game with the Fuel. Clarke and Stroh were teammates for the first half of the season last year in Rapid City.
  3. The five goals in regulation were the most by the Fuel in 13 games – the last was a 6-1 win in Greenville on March 21. It marked the second-most goals scored in a loss – the Fuel lost 7-6 to Florida on Dec. 5, 2014.
  4. Rhett Bly potted his first career two-goal game. He last had a multi-point game on March 13 against Evansville last spring. Bly also buried the first penalty shot in the ECHL this season. It was also the first penalty shot taken by the Fuel in their history.
  5. Garett Bembridge’s goal gives him a point in three of the Fuel’s four games this season. It was a big response at a big point, scoring on the next shift after Fort Wayne had taken a two-goal lead. That comeback from two down to take the lead on the road is a big rallying point.
  6. Even without a win, this is a solid weekend for the Fuel. They continue to, in Year 2, go toe-to-toe with teams that have most of the core back from 100+-point teams last season. That bodes well for the year for a Fuel team that is expecting to be among that group this season.
  7. Kyle Stroh, Nick Mattson and Dylan Clarke were all +2 on the night. Clarke and Bly led the Fuel with four shots each. Garett Bembridge and Zach Miskovic had three shots each.
  8. Clarke wasn’t the only player with a four-point game. Fort Wayne’s Shawn Szydlowski had four assists on the game. Belzile, who had the OT winner, had the game-winner in both games. Trevor Cheek and Szydlowski each had five-point weekends for Fort Wayne.
  9. The Fuel have now played two 3-on-3 OTs, going 0-1 in the OT, with one game going to a shootout.
  10. Both teams went 1-4 on the PP. Southorn’s second-period PPG ended a streak of seven straight penalty kills by the Fuel. Indy is now 3-for-10 on the PP and 15-for-17 on the PK.
  11. Indy and Fort Wayne will meet 11 times this season, three of which come in October. In addition to these two meetings, they will play again next Friday in Indy. Fort Wayne is one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the ECHL, and will remain so, as the Komets do not play between now and next Friday’s game. Adirondack (3-0-0) and Cincinnati (2-0-0) are the other unbeatens.

Lineup
Lineups based on the gamesheets. Miskovic-Franzon started the game, but the defense pairings varied throughout the night.

Matt White-Cody Sharib-Peter Schneider
Dylan Clarke-Kyle Stroh-Garett Bembridge
Daniel Ciampini-Alex Lavoie-Reed Seckel
Rhett Bly

Zach Miskovic-Anders Franzon
Kevin Quick-Dillon Fournier
Nick Mattson-Ben Marshall

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Josh Brittain (reserve), David Pszenyczny (IR)

Next up: The Fuel are in Kalamazoo for a Tuesday game, then return to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum for Pink in the Rink night on Oct. 30 against Fort Wayne. Kalamazoo is currently 0-4-0.

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