The Indy Fuel haven’t had much opportunity to venture outside of their home state yet, but a short trip into Buckeye territory produced the same results as most of the games in the Hoosier state – a Fuel victory.
Rookie defensemen Sam Jardine – playing his first game after re-joining the Fuel from AHL Rockford – and Ben Marshall scored goals and Matt White had two assists to lead the Fuel to a 2-1 victory Friday in Cincinnati.
The re-kindling of what developed into a fierce rivalry between Indy and its closest neighbor last year saw a tight-checking matchup between two of the league’s better defensive teams – and two of the Midwest Division’s top squads. The Fuel victory handed Cincinnati its first regulation loss at home in nine games – the Cyclones are now 7-1-1 in the U.S. Bank Arena. They also became the first team in six games to score more than once against the Cyclones in their building.
The victory also moved the Fuel to within one point of division-leading Cincinnati. The Cyclones have 18 points to Indy’s 17, but have played one more game than the Fuel.
Shane Owen stopped 27 shots, including some highlight-reel saves in the third, to get the victory in net.
Cincinnati struck first, with Joe Wilson ripping a shot into the net with 7:46 left in the first to give the Cyclones a lead. Cincy held the upper hand in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Fuel 10-6. The Fuel killed off a first-period power play, and Cincy killed off both Fuel man advantage situations.
But the Fuel tilted the ice in the second, and White’s prowess at the faceoff dot proved key. Seconds after the Cyclones’ Cody Carlson returned from the penalty box, the Fuel got an offensive-zone draw. White won it back to Jardine, who ripped a shot from the right point into the net for his first professional goal with 7:30 left in the period. Indy held a 13-6 shot edge in the second, but the Cyclones’ Brad Thiessen kept it 1-1.
Early in the third, it was Marshall’s turn, as White again won a draw back to the point, where the rookie defenseman blasted the puck past Thiessen 4:23 into the period to give Indy a 2-1 lead. Owen and the defense maintained it, as Owen stopped all 12 third-period shots he faced.
The Fuel move to 8-3-1 with the victory headed into a home-and-home with Quad City, which begins at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The following afternoon, the two teams will meet up in Moline, Illinois, marking the Fuel’s first-ever visit to the Quad Cities and first-ever game in the Illini state.
IndyPuck 3 stars
- Shane Owen (Fuel) 27 saves, 1 GA
- Ben Marshall (Fuel) GWG
- Matt White (Fuel) 2A
- It’s November, so it’s a little early to be standings-watching, but it’s not too early to realize that two points at the start of the year are as important as two at the end. This is a big weekend full of four-point games, with the Fuel playing three games against Cincinnati and Quad City. One point now separates the three teams.
- It’s hard to overstate how difficult-to-beat Cincinnati is at home, but more importantly, how difficult they are to score on at home. In eight games prior to tonight, the Cyclones had outscored foes 25-9, allowing only two goals once, in a 4-2 win over Adirondack. Their only loss had been a 2-1 shootout loss to Toledo.
- Owen’s effort tonight brought his seasonal GAA under 2.00 – at 1.99 – and increased his goaltending record to 5-2-0. He has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his seven starts this year, including four straight, all wins. This was his third game of allowing one goal.
- Faceoffs are always important, especially in the offensive zone when they can lead to scoring chances. Matt White’s play at the dot led to two goals directly off draws, as he was able to win them cleanly and get them to the points with traffic in front. It was his first multi-point game since Feb. 6, and marked his first assist since March 14. This was White’s first multi-assist game as a pro.
- Jardine’s goal was his first professional tally, coming right after coming back to the Fuel, and coming in the state where he played three years of NCAA hockey. The former Ohio State Buckeye started the year with the Fuel, had an assist on opening night, and had spent the last month in Rockford. He made quite an impression coming back, with three shots, a +1 and a goal, and using his 6-2, 205-pound frame to keep opposing players out of Owen’s crease.
- Marshall continues to have a hot stick. The rookie from Minnesota scored his second goal tonight, extended his scoring streak to three games, and now has tallied a point in six of his last seven games. He also had four shots tonight, tying Garett Bembridge and Peter Schneider for the team high.
- As noted earlier, the Indy-Cincinnati rivalry really took off quickly last year, and the teams picked up where they left off. A charging penalty on Cincinnati’s Dax Lauwers just 89 seconds into the game led to a challenge from White. Later in the period, Cody Sharib and Cincinnati’s Jonathan Diaby dropped the gloves.
- The Fuel PK was only on the ice once, but it has now killed off 14 straight power plays dating back to Oct. 24.
Lines based on the gamesheet
Dylan Clarke-Kyle Stroh-Peter Schneider
Cody Sharib-Alex Lavoie-Garett Bembridge
Walker Wintoneak-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Nick Mattson-Zach Miskovic
Kevin Quick-Anders Franzon
Sam Jardine-Ben Marshall
BU: Mac Carruth
Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Dillon Fournier (res)
Roster moves: This week, there was a lot of movement between Indy and Rockford. The IceHogs assigned Jardine to the Fuel earlier this week. Meanwhile, forward Daniel Ciampini was called up, and forward Josh Brittain was loaned to Rockford, where he signed a professional tryout agreement. The Fuel currently have 10 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goaltenders on the roster.
Next up: The Fuel return to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum to face Quad City at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. That will be followed by a five-game, eight-day road trip that begins Sunday afternoon at Quad City, and also include stops in Wichita and Missouri.