Game 15: Fuel at Wichita

The Indy Fuel’s five-game roadtrip through the heartland continued Wednesday with the first-ever matchup between the Fuel and the Wichita Thunder.

The Thunder used a span of two goals in 74 seconds to propel them to a 5-1 victory over the Fuel at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.

Old friend Kenton Miller and Danick Gauthier scored the two quick second-period goals to give the Thunder a 3-0 lead. Wichita added two more quick goals late in the third as the Fuel were pressing for a comeback.

Indy is now 9-5-1 after dropping the first two games of the roadtrip, which continues Friday and Saturday with games against the ECHL-leading Missouri Mavericks, and concludes Sunday at Quad City.

Garett Bembridge scored a power-play goal for Indy – tallying with goaltender Mac Carruth pulled to give the Fuel a 6-on-4 – with 6:26 left in the game to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Brandon Martell scored 1:52 into the game and Wichita outshot the Fuel 14-7 in the opening period, taking a 1-0 lead. The goals by Miller and Gauthier pushed it to 3-0 after two, a period in which the Thunder held a 16-11 shot edge.

After Bembridge’s PP tally, Andrew Hull and Gauthier each scored in the final four minutes.

Mac Carruth stopped 33 of 38 shots in the Fuel net. David Shantz stopped 25 of 26 for Wichita.

3 stars

  1. Kenton Miller (WIC) GWG, +2, 5 shots
  2. Andrew Huff (WIC) G, A, +2
  3. Danick Gauthier (WIC) 2G

Takeaways

  1. Over the course of a 72-game season, these games do happen where the opposing team gets an early lead, a couple of quick goals and you’re playing catch-up the rest of the day. The Fuel have made a living playing close games – their biggest loss before tonight, once empty-net goals are removed from the equation – was two goals in a 4-2 loss to Evansville.
  2. Gauthier’s second-period tally to make it 3-0 was the first PPG surrendered by Indy since Oct. 24. Indy entered the evening with the ECHL’s second-best PK at 90.2 percent. Indy killed off the first two Thunder PPs to extend their streak of consecutive kills to 20 before Gauthier’s goal in the first minute of a minor.
  3. Indy’s PP answered with the Bembridge goal, making the Fuel 1-2 on the night. Bembridge’s goal was his first since Nov. 13, but it extended his point streak to three games. He has tallied a point in 11 of the team’s 15 games this year, and has a 7-5-12 line.  Alex Lavoie, who had the second assist, now has an assist in three straight games and is 2-9-11 for the year.
  4. Rookie defender Ben Marshall snapped a two-game scoreless string with the first assist on the Bembridge goal, and he now has double-digit points with two goals and eight assists.
  5. Much of the Fuel’s offense came from the blueline, as 12 of the 28 shots were from defensemen. Anders Franzon (5) and Marshall (4) led the team in shots on goal.
  6. The five goals allowed tied for the most surrendered by Indy in regulation. The Fuel also allowed five in a 6-5 OTL to Fort Wayne on Oct. 24.
  7. Indy maintained its spot in second place in the ECHL’s Midwest Division with 19 points. The Fuel are tied with Quad City and two points back of division-leading Cincinnati.
  8. This marked the first game between the Thunder and an Indy team since 2003-04, when the Indianapolis Ice won 3-2 in Wichita, with current Fuel assistant coach Bernie John scoring the winning goal on Feb. 25, 2004. The Ice and Thunder played often between 1999-2004 when both teams were in the old Central Hockey League, which was absorbed into the ECHL in fall 2014.

Boxscore

Lineup

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

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

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Dillon Fournier (res)

Next up: A Friday tilt with the Missouri Mavericks starting a three-games-in-three-days stretch on the road.