Game 14: Fuel at Quad City

When the Indy Fuel and Quad City Mallards met up Saturday evening, it was a hard-hitting affair with the goaltenders stealing the show, with a hot home team coming away with the victory.

The rematch was more of the same, with the Mallards taking a 2-1 victory over the Fuel Sunday afternoon at the iWireless Arena in the Quad Cities.

The Mallards’ victory split the weekend series between the teams, as the Fuel had won 3-2 Saturday night in Indy. The game kicks off a five-game Thanksgiving-week road trip for the Fuel, which will conclude in the same spot next Sunday. It also snapped a five-game Fuel winning streak.

Shane Owen was solid in net, stopping 30 shots and being named the third star in a losing effort, but he was outdueled by  Quad City’s Steve Michalek, who stopped 40 of the 41 Fuel shots.

Indy controlled the opening period, outshooting the hosts 12-5 and drawing first blood when Cody Sharib buried a rebound with 4:25 left in the frame. Garett Bembridge skated up the right side and fired a shot that Michalek stopped, but Sharib fought off a Quad City defender for the weak-side rebound and fired the puck into the open side.

The Mallards tied the game before the end of the period when Raphael Bussieres scored on a feed from Olivier Archambault – who tallied his third point in the home-and-home – for Bussieres’ QC-leading eighth goal of the season.

Indy fired 18 shots in the second period, but Michalek stopped them all, and the Mallards took the lead when Sam Warning tipped in a shot from Jake Baker with 1:14 left in the period. Michalek made it stand up in the third with 11 saves, with the Fuel peppering him with four shots in the final 90 seconds.

The victory was Quad City’s eighth straight home game with a point – they’re 7-0-1 at home after dropping their opener. It also moved the teams back into a second-place tie in the ultra-tight Midwest Division.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Steve Michalek (QC) 40 saves, 1 GA
  2. Sam Warning (QC) GWG
  3. Shane Owen (Fuel) 30 saves, 2 GA

Takeaways

  1. Pretty big weekend for the Fuel. Three games in three nights against the other top teams in the Midwest Division, and they came away with four points, and finished the weekend ahead of where they started – just one point out of the division lead.
  2. This marked the fourth back-to-back for the Fuel. So far, they’ve been swept once, split twice and swept the opponent once, with both of the sweeps involving an OT game.
  3. This is the first long roadtrip for the Fuel this season – five games, eight days, all against teams that were part of the CHL expansion in 2014. Last season, the Fuel got on a roll on their biggest road swing of the season and it carried through the end of the season.
  4. With Daniel Ciampini and Josh Brittain in the AHL, the Fuel’s scoring depth has been tested a bit, but Cody Sharib had a near-goal last night and cashed in tonight on a similar play – a weak-side rebound. He, Alex Lavoie and Garett Bembridge have generated a lot of offense with a  good mixture of skill and speed. Sharib scored his third of the year today. Bembridge and Lavoie each had an assist for the second straight game. The trio had 10 shots on goal.
  5. Matt White generated a lot of offense, with six shots on goal. The trio of Peter Schneider-Dylan Clarke-Kyle Stroh had 13 shots, with the wings Schneider and Clarke firing five each.
  6. Shane Owen had a hard-luck loss for the second time this season. Owen has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of his eight starts, and the Fuel are 5-2-0 when he does so. He has a 1.99 GAA as he and Mac Carruth continue to be a tremendous goaltending duo.
  7. Much like last night’s game – which had the same referee, Nic Leduc – while it was physical, it didn’t have many penalties. Indy had one PP, Quad City two. The Fuel again were perfect on the PK, extending their streak to 18 consecutive kills going back to Oct. 24.

Lineup
Based on the gamesheet. Same forward lines as last night, but the Fuel went with 7 defensemen, so the D pairings rotated a bit.

Cody Sharib-Alex Lavoie-Garett Bembridge
Dylan Clarke-Kyle Stroh-Peter Schneider
Rhett Bly-Matt White-Walker Wintoneak

Kevin Quick-Anders Franzon
Sam Jardine-Nick Mattson
Patrick Koudys-Ben Marshall-Zach Miskovic

Shane Owen
BU: Mac Carruth

Scratches: Reed Seckel, Dillon Fournier (res)

Next up: The Fuel are in Wichita on Wednesday for their first-ever meeting with the Thunder, then travel to Missouri Friday and Saturday before returning to Quad City on Sunday. The next home game is Dec. 3 against Toledo.