Six points possible. Six points earned.
The Indy Fuel capped off a successful 72 hours Sunday, as Peter Schneider scored with 2:23 left to give the Fuel a 3-2 victory over the Wheeling Nailers, capping a sweep of the three weekend games.
The Fuel are now 6-3-0 since returning from the league’s Christmas break, with two three-game winning streaks. The weekend moved the Fuel into third place in the Midwest Division with 36 points. Indy is just two points behind division leader Fort Wayne, and five back of Allen, which has the Western Conference’s second-best record.
Adam Lapsansky continued his strong first impression, scoring a goal for the second straight game. He’s tallied a point in all three games since coming to the Fuel from Slovakia this week. Garett Bembridge also had a goal for the Fuel.
Indy improved to 17-18-2 on the year with the victory.
Shane Owen had another strong game, stopping 39 shots to preserve the victory. He made 17 third-period saves to keep the game tied 2-2, and Schneider broke the deadlock by firing a blast from the right point that beat Wheeling netminder Franky Palazzese clean to the stick side, and the Fuel defense held on for the victory.
Indy built leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the opening two periods, and Wheeling answered each.
Lapsansky gave the Fuel a lead 4:47 in with an incredible individual effort. Palazzese made the stop on his initial shot from the left point, but Lapsansky went straight to the slot and backhanded the rebound on goal, which was met by the netminder’s pad, but he followed his shot again and backhanded the rebound into the open side.
Wheeling’s Anton Zlobin scored later in the period on the Nailers’ only power play of the night – ending a streak of 13 straight penalty kills for the Fuel – but Owen stopped 10 of 11 shots to keep the game 1-1.
The Fuel outshot the Nailers 14-13 in the second, and each team scored again. Bembridge took a feed from Alex Lavoie, skated along the goal line and the goalmouth, deked the goaltender down, and then waited him out before rifling a backhand into the top shelf to give Indy a 2-1 edge with 6:55 gone in the second. Jarrett Burton answered for Wheeling with 56 seconds left in the period to knot the score again, setting the stage for Schneider’s heroics.
Indy now will play six consecutive games at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum – highlighted by two three-in-three weekends back-to-back, with the third and final meeting this season against the Nailers coming in one week in Indy.
- Shane Owen (Fuel) 39 saves, 2 GA
- Peter Schneider (Fuel) GWG, 4 shots
- Anton Zlobin (WHL) G, A
- The victory marked the Fuel’s third winning streak of three or more games this season – and the second in a span of three weekends. The Fuel also won three straight from Dec. 26-29 (Quad City twice, Cincinnati) & five straight from Nov. 7-21 (Quad City twice, Alaska twice, Cincinnati).
- The Fuel play a number of close games. They’re 9-8-2 in games decided by a goal (and 8-10-0 in those decided by more than a goal). Four of the last five contests have been one-goal games.
- This game marked the beginning of the season’s second half, and the Fuel begin the second half in playoff position in a very tightly-packed Western Conference. They are currently tied for seventh place, and are just five points back of the team with the second-best record in the West.
- To play three games in three days with a bus ride in-between is tough. To do it with five defensemen and 15 skaters is even tougher – the Fuel had two players called up to AHL Rockford on Saturday, have three more on IR, and captain Zach Miskovic on a well-deserved leave to spend time with his newborn son. Before the team hit the bus Saturday night, coach Scott Hillman said getting the first goal is often key when both teams are playing 3-in-3s. Indy got that first goal early and never trailed in the game.
- In fact, the Fuel haven’t trailed for seven straight periods and change – they scored two quick goals to take a lead in Friday’s 3-2 win over Evansville and held the lead throughout Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Icemen.
- In Shane Owen’s last three starts, he has a .960 save percentage and a 1.34 GAA, including a .972 save percentage Saturday and Sunday. With two good goaltenders in Owen and Mac Carruth, coach Scott Hillman has the ability to go with the hot hand, and both have been red-hot in the last month.
- Schneider’s game-winner was his third such goal of the year. Since returning to the lineup after an injury, he’s been active on the forecheck, and his creative play on the penalty kill to drop the puck and drive to the net last night led to a goal. He’s got a two-game point streak going. Schneider also led the team with four shots on goal.
- The line of Lapsansky-Lavoie-Bembridge has been on fire since being put together this weekend, combining for four goals, eight assists, 18 shots and a +14 rating. Lavoie (1-3-4, +5), Lapsansky (2-2-4, +4) and Bembridge (1-3-4, +5) have all been contributing big. Lapsansky has scored in all three games, as has Lavoie, who had two assists today to extend his team lead with 29 points. Bembridge snapped a five-game goalless streak with his pretty second-period tally, and leads the Fuel with 11 goals on the year.
- Cody Sharib had two assists, his third two-point game as a pro. He snapped a five-game scoreless streak, and doubled his assist total for the year. Sharib is one of the Fuel’s top goal scorers with nine. Kyle Stroh, who had the second assist on Schneider’s goal, snapped a six-game scoreless streak.
- The Fuel are one of the ECHL’s least-penalized teams, and allowed the Nailers just one power play today. Indy drew four power plays, and was 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
- Anders Franzon, Matt White and Bembridge were all +2 on the day.
Adam Lapsansky-Alex Lavoie-Garett Bembridge
Derek Roehl-Cody Sharib-Rhett Bly
Michael Colantone-Kyle Stroh-Peter Schneider
Patrick Koudys-Anders Franzon
Kevin Quick-Ben Marshall
BU: Mac Carruth
Scratches: Zach Miskovic (personal leave), Josh Brittain (IR), Dylan Clarke (IR), Dillon Fournier (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host Rapid City at 7:35 p.m. Friday, beginning a six-game homestead. They’ll host Orlando Saturday and a rematch with Wheeling Sunday.