Game 40: Fuel vs. Wheeling

Peter Schneider hops on the ice, reads a play perfectly, intercepts a pass at center, outskates everyone into the attacking zone, and buries the puck into the net.

Fuel right wing Rhett Bly carries the puck Sunday against Wheeling. Bly had two assists in the 3-2 victory. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

Fuel right wing Rhett Bly carries the puck Sunday against Wheeling. Bly had two assists in the 3-2 victory. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

That provided the spark for the Indy Fuel on Sunday afternoon. The finish came with a 106-second 6-on-4 penalty kill that saw yeoman efforts from several parties, including goaltender Mac Carruth.

It all added up to a 3-2 Fuel victory over the Wheeling Nailers in penalty-filled game at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Fuel, and saw a number of players shine at key moments. It came off the heels of a solid performance in a 2-0 loss to Orlando on Saturday.

“Coming out with a win in the last one is huge for us,” captain Zach Miskovic said. “The guys played really well tonight, continuing the momentum from the previous night. I thought we played pretty well against Orlando, and the guys stuck with it, kept battling and battling, and we got a couple of dirty goals, and that’s huge. You’ve got to score to win.”

Schneider, Zach Miskovic and Michael Colantone scored goals – the latter two on the power play. Rhett Bly had two assists. Mac Carruth stopped 26 shots, including several desperation attempts by the Nailers on that last-minute penalty kill, which saw Nick Petrecki and Miskovic doing yeoman’s work in front of the net, and Matt White win two critical faceoffs in the final minute, and the Fuel came away with two big points.

The late penalty kill was big, as Wheeling’s Cody Wydo had banged in a power play goal with 5:27 left to cut the Fuel’s lead to 3-2, and Indy found itself shorthanded with 1:46 left with a heavily-disputed interference call on Anders Franzon. While Wheeling had five shots on goal in the ensuing power play, Carruth stopped them all and the defensemen cleared the rebounds.

“You can’t say enough about our big pair of defensemen, Miskovic and Petrecki,” Hillman said. “They spent that last couple minutes on the ice plugging away, keeping pucks away from our goalie. Whitey played some big minutes down the stretch and won some big draws.”

Meanwhile, the Fuel got the offense clicking, with three goals and several near-misses, all starting with Schneider’s strip-and-score 8:59 into the game. The Fuel already had generated two power plays – and had the better of the chances – but were still looking for their first goal of the weekend until Schneider roofed a shot to put his team up 1-0.

“I got on the ice a little bit late. I saw the guy had the puck, his stick in one hand. I stole it from him, the D took a tumble, and I saw I had my chance and kept going,” said Schneider, who also scored the game-winner a week ago in a Fuel win at Wheeling.

“We needed it,” Hillman said of Schneider’s goal. “We needed energy today. I thought the fans were really behind us. We got some energy going on the ice. There’s no question that first goal was huge because we were playing good hockey and needed to get rewarded.”

The Fuel had more chances – getting an extended 73-second 5-on-3 early in the second, and nearly scoring when Colantone’s rebound shot hit the crossbar and Wheeling’s Franky Palazzese fell backward to cover it. With the red light on and the Fuel celebrating, referee Nic Leduc emphatically ruled the puck hit the goalpost and did not cross the line. It wasn’t Colantone’s only close call. He nearly had another when he had two shots in tight off a faceoff midway through the third, the second trickling through Palazzese’s pads, but a defenseman swept it off the line.

Wheeling evened the game on its second power play at 6:59 of the second, as Matthew Maione’s point shot hit the back of the net and rocketed out, tying the game at 1-1. Indy responded with good pressure, with Derek Roehl forcing a turnover shortly thereafter that led to an extended possession for the Fuel – and keyed a period in which Indy got 17 shots on goal.

While no goals came of that, a double-minor on Wheeling’s John McCarron with 58 seconds left in the second set the table for Indy to break through, scoring on both halves of the power play.

Fuel left wing Derek Roehl (10) battles with Wheeling's Andrew Cerretani in Indy's 3-2 victory. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

Fuel left wing Derek Roehl (10) battles with Wheeling’s Andrew Cerretani in Indy’s 3-2 victory. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

With six seconds left in the period, Bly fed Miskovic from the corner for a one-timer that gave the Fuel a lead.

“The highlight of the night was Bly on the rush on the power play, getting that outside-in move and turning back and finding Misko for a power play goal,” Hillman said. “It was nice for the guys to get a couple of power play goals – that was the difference in the game.”

“Bly made a great play. Great heads-up play,” Miskovic added. “I was trailing late, and I was just trying to put it between the blue pipes and it went in.”

That gave the Fuel two more minutes of power play time, and they came out flying to start the third. Off a draw, Adam Lapsansky fired a shot that rang the post and trickled across the goal line, and the Fuel followed up in a scramble. But later in the power play, Bly took a pass from below the goal line and fed Colantone out front for what turned out to be the game-winner with 18:12 left. Colantone used his quick release to roof a shot under the crossbar, giving the Fuel a 3-1 lead.

“That was a really nice shot for him, picking the top left corner,” Miskovic said. “That was a big goal for us.”

The Fuel were 2-for-8 on the power play, and the offense generated a number of close calls at even strength and with the man advantage.

“We talked about getting to more dangerous areas, and tonight, I thought we did that well,” Hillman said. “We had four solid posts, we could’ve scored three or more in sequence at that time. It was good to see a few guys get rewarded and the team get rewarded with three goals.”

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Peter Schneider (Fuel) goal, +1, 7 shots
  2. Zach Miskovic (Fuel) PP goal, +1, 7 shots
  3. Rhett Bly (Fuel) 2 assists

Takeaways

  1. After being held scoreless in two games, the Fuel were looking for – as Garett Bembridge said Saturday night – the attitude of wanting to put the puck through the net. They came out Sunday with a ferocious offensive effort that could easily have yielded six or seven goals. “We’re playing pretty well this weekend. We had a lot of chances Friday and Saturday, we just couldn’t put the puck in. It was great today that we put a couple of pucks in and won the game,” Schneider said. “We were putting the puck more on net. We were able to create a lot of rebounds and chances. I think we could’ve scored more goals than we did – it was nice to get three.”
  2. Peter Schneider had a tremendous game, not just in scoring his ninth goal of the year, but also in creating offense, forcing turnovers in the neutral zone, killing penalties, and using his energy and speed to make plays, which was apparent playing that third game in three days. “For me personally, I love playing the game, more than practicing. I never have a problem getting energized,” he said. “I try to work hard every night. Some nights, it works better than others. That’s my game, I try to work hard and create energy every night.”
  3. In addition to Schneider’s play, Michael Colantone had a goal and nearly had two more. Derek Roehl showed good energy and created some early chances and was in the conversation for three stars despite not tallying a point. And Rhett Bly had his typical high-energy three-zone game, and was rewarded with two assists. “The guys that have the most speed seem to excel in that third game if they still have their legs,” Hillman said. “I’m glad they did.”
  4. Bly’s two-point game was his second of the year – he had two goals Oct. 24 at Fort Wayne. He snapped a five-game scoreless streak with his two assists.
  5. Alex Lavoie had the second assist on Miskovic’s goal late in the second, giving him a team-high 30 points and 21 assists.
  6. The Fuel’s power play was excellent in generating opportunities and scoring twice, but the penalty kill, even in allowing two goals, was clutch at the end, despite facing a two-man disadvantage. With 36 seconds left, White won a faceoff and the Fuel cleared the puck. The linesman temporarily forgot it was a penalty kill and called icing. While the draw came to center ice after the inadvertent whistle, White again won the draw with the Nailers plowing forward, and the Fuel were able to kill off the final seconds, with Carruth making a couple of saves on shots from the perimeter.
  7. Having good layers in the defensive zone, puck support in the offensive zone allowed the Fuel to control possession and the chances – especially at even strength. But the Fuel especially responded well after goals. Immediately after Maione tied the game up in the second, the Fuel had a 12-3 shot advantage over the remainder of the period, and multiple lines provided pressure right after the goal. When the Fuel took a 3-1 lead early in the third, they pressed the advantage and didn’t allow Wheeling a shot over the first 10 minutes. At one point, Indy had 16 straight shots on goal over a 17-minute span covering the end of the second and the first half of the third.
  8. Carruth has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight straight starts – winning six – and 13 times total in 18 starts this season.
  9. The Fuel want to build off the momentum from this victory, as next weekend’s three-game homestand is big. The Fuel face Quad City Friday and Saturday, then welcome Fort Wayne for a Sunday matinee. The weekend also begins a stretch of eight straight games against division foes. At 18-20-2, the Fuel are in third place, three points back of Quad City and eight back of Fort Wayne, so next weekend brings some potential for big standings swings. Indy is currently also tied for seventh place in the Western Conference.
  10. But they’ll also have the opportunity to get a full week of practice with the team, after adding Andrew Johnston and Nick Petrecki to the roster late last week and bringing Zach Miskovic back to the lineup after the birth of his son, Maddox, last week. What’s really big is we have our team together,” Hillman said. “With Johnston and Petrecki coming in, basically just to pay the games this weekend, and Miskovic being out for a week, things weren’t clicking early on in the weekend. We played great yesterday and the guys that had jelled a bit. Even in terms of conditioning – some of those guys had been out a week, with trades and travel – I think we should be a much more settled team. Certainly, we’ll be up for Quad City. We know how big of a two-game set it is with them.”

Lineup

Adam Lapsansky-Alex Lavoie-Garett Bembridge
Cody Sharib-Michael Colantone-Rhett Bly
Derek Roehl-Andrew Johnston/Matt White-Peter Schneider

Nick Petrecki-Zach Miskovic
Ben Marshall-Anders Franzon
Patrick Koudys-Sam Jardine

Mac Carruth
BU: Shane Owen

Next game: The Fuel host Quad City Friday and Saturday with 7:35 p.m. face-offs at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

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