Game 27: Fuel at Evansville

The Indy Fuel have played a lot of good hockey recently without getting rewarded with two points at the end of the night.

Saturday night, they got the reward.

The Fuel scored in each period, and got a critical insurance goal when Josh Brittain scored shorthanded early in the third to snuff out a comeback in a 3-1 Indy win over the Evansville IceMen Saturday night at the Ford Center.

The Fuel’s recipe has been simple – score three goals and win. Cody Sharib and Dylan Clarke staked Indy to a 2-0 lead, and Brittain’s insurance goal came on the first of three IceMen power plays in the third period that the Fuel successfully killed off.

Mac Carruth was spectacular in the Indy net, stopping 44 of the 45 IceMen shots, including all 15 in the third period.

The Fuel are now 8-1-1 when they score at least three goals in regulation or OT (10-1-1 when adding in shootout goals). The Fuel are now 11-14-2 after Saturday’s win, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

Indy got an early lead when Nick Mattson forced a turnover at center ice, which led to Cody Sharib squeezing a puck between IceMen netminder Scott Greenham and the post from along the goal line with 6:50 left in the first period.

Shortly thereafter, the Fuel killed off a penalty to keep the lead through the first intermission. Another big kill came early in the second, and then Indy added to its lead shortly thereafter. Alex Lavoie swooped in behind the net and found Dylan Clarke at the left circle. His missive banked off an IceMen skate and into the net to give the Fuel a two-goal lead.

Justin MacDonald cut the Fuel lead to 2-1 late in the second period, cueing the IceMen’s Teddy Bear Toss – but after the intermission, Indy seized control of the game. With newcomer Derek Roehl in the box, Brittain was forechecking on the penalty kill when an Evansville player coughed up the puck in his own zone. Brittain pounced on the loose puck and buried it to give Indy its magic third goal and some key insurance.

Evansville kept pelting Carruth’s net, but “The Truth” kept the scoresheet clean in the third period, including nearly two full minutes of 6-on-4 in the closing moments of the game.

Indy is now 3-2-0 against Evansville this season – with all games having been played at the Ford Center. Five of the six remaining games between the two Hoosier state rivals will be at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, starting with two games Jan. 8-9.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Mac Carruth (Fuel) 44 saves, 1 GA
  2. Dylan Clarke (Fuel) GWG, 2 shots
  3. Justin MacDonald (EVV) G

Takeaways

  1. We’ve talked a lot about puck luck, and the Fuel have played a lot of good hockey and something hasn’t gone right. Tonight, a sharp-angle goal that managed to find the 5-hole, a puck banked in off a skate and a shorthanded goal after a defensive zone turnover were all Fuel beneficiaries. At some point, those things were going to tip in the Fuel’s favor, especially after three hit posts last night. But that’s a bit unfair to attribute a win to fortunate breaks, even if they’re way overdue. The first goal came off a nice play at center by Nick Mattson, the second a good carry-in and setup by Alex Lavoie. The Fuel have needed some of those shots to go in, and finally, they did tonight.
  2. Carruth’s 44 saves were the second most he has made this season. This marked the sixth time in 12 starters he has allowed two or fewer goals. They are 6-0-0 when he does.
  3. The PK was again a perfect 4-for-4 and tallied a goal tonight. The Fuel have now killed off 13 power plays in a span that has lasted four games. Brittain’s goal was Indy’s second SHG on the season. Peter Schneider also scored one on Oct. 30 against Fort Wayne.
  4. Schneider wasn’t one of the seven players to register a point, but he generated a lot of offense, with six shots on goal.
  5. Brittain’s third-period goal was his first tally in 12 games, and his first point in seven. Nick Mattson also broke a streak with his assist on the first goal, tallying his first point in 12 games.
  6. Cody Sharib can shoot it. He has eight goals – second on the team – and one assist so far. Tonight’s wasn’t his classic laser from the point or the circle, but in finding Greenham’s five-hole from almost parallel to the goal line.
  7. Lavoie had an assist to add to his team high of 23 points, and how has a point in 12 of the last 15 games. Ciampini also had an assist, his first point since Nov. 13 – shortly before he was called up to Rockford for a stint.
  8. Tonight was the first ECHL game for new signee Derek Roehl. He had the second assist on Clarke’s goal and wore number 10. He also had two shots and four penalty minutes.

Lineup

Prior to the game, Tim Hall and Garett Bembridge were placed on reserve. Matt White and Derek Roehl were activated, with Roehl making his Fuel debut. Sam Jardine also returned to the lineup.

Cody Sharib-Josh Brittain-Derek Roehl
Dylan Clarke-Alex Lavoie-Peter Schneider
Daniel Ciampini-Kyle Stroh-Rhett Bly
Matt White

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

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Garett Bembridge (res), Tim Hall (res), Dillon Fournier (IR)

Next up: The Fuel host Toledo at 3:05 p.m. Sunday, their final game before the Christmas break. They’ll return to action Dec. 26-27 in a home-and-home with Quad City, with the game in Indy taking place at 3:05 p.m. on the Sunday half of the twin bill.