Playing the team with ECHL’s top record, there’s very little margin for error.
The Missouri Mavericks’ highest-scoring players created that margin, with five different goal-scorers finding the net as the Mavericks beat the host Indy Fuel 5-3 Tuesday night at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The loss snapped a seven-game home winning streak for the Fuel, who were playing their first game at home since Feb. 6.
“They’re too good of a team to make big mistakes on, and we made huge mistakes,” Fuel coach Scott Hillman said.
“They’ve got a roster full of American (Hockey) League players and they bury their chances. That’s why they’re the first-place team in the league. We certainly had plenty of chances, we carried a lot of the play. They’re just too good to give those chances.”
Missouri has 11 players on its active roster under AHL/NHL contracts, all in the New York Islanders organization, and a 12th who has played in the AHL this season, among the most of the league. And they were key in Tuesday’s game as the Mavericks built leads of 1-0 and 4-1 before the Fuel rallied with two late third-period goals.
“They have a great team,” Fuel forward Alex Lavoie said. “They’re first in the league and they have a lot of talent. The errors have to be minimum with them. It comes in your face real quick. We’ll get ready for the next one.”
Lavoie had two assists for the Fuel, while Daniel Ciampini, Adam Lapsansky and Ben Marshall each tallied goals.
Missouri’s Tyler Barnes scored his 20th goal and added an assist, and was one of four Mavericks with two-point nights.
Missouri took an early lead when defenseman Bryce Aneloski scored 5:03 into the game. He came in as the trailer on a rush and one-timed Tyler Barnes’ goalmouth feed from the wing into the net. While the Fuel carried the play in the first – Indy had an 11-6 shot edge – that was the only goal early.
The Fuel responded in the second period – first with a pair of near-misses. Lapsansky was set up for a one-timer off a cross-ice feed that hit the post and stayed out – although it did elicit a crowd celebration. But the Fuel got another chance with an extended 5-on-3 – thanks to a slashing penalty on Zach Tolkinen followed by a too many men on the ice penalty.
Indy nearly capitalized early, as Brandon Wong tried to reach around Missouri netminder Parker Milner, and had a shot bounce off a defenseman’s leg and toward the net.The sprawling goaltender reached back with his glove and snared the puck off the goal line. But on the next setup, defenseman Nick Petrecki worked the high slot and fed Ciampini in the right circle for a wicked one-timer goal to tie the game at 7:32 of the second.
“In the 5-on-3, we wanted to be patient with the puck,” Lavoie said, as he got the second assist on the play. “We had a lot of time. We wanted to take our time with the puck and be intelligent. Ciampini was open, I gave it to him, and he gave it to Petrecki and back to him. It was a good goal. It was good for us. We missed a couple this year, but we capitalized on that one.”
Missouri re-took the lead two and a half minutes later, as Barnes scored on a 3-on-1 rush, and the Mavericks had an opportunity to build their edge with a 92-second 5-on-3 of their own after a tripping call on Peter Schneider and Zach Miskovic unintentionally batted an airborne puck out of play for a delay of game penalty.
Fuel goaltender Shane Owen made seven saves during the two-man advantage, stuffing one back-door pass and a number of shots through screens.
“It was great to see the lengthy 5-on-3 kill. It gave ourselves a chance at that point,” Hillman said. “The guys were really good structurally, they didn’t give any slam dunks, and he was there for all the shots that came in front of him.”
In the third, Missouri’s Andrew Courtney gave his team a two-goal lead 2:02 in, as he was able to track down a dump-in and skate it to the front of the net and finish. Rocco Carzo – who assisted on Courtney’s goal – got free in the low slot and made it 4-1 with a one-timer out of a low cycle with 5:36 left.
The Fuel had a late rally. Michael Colantone fired a shot from the low slot. Milner made the save on that shot, but both Schneider and Lapsansky were on the doorstep for rebounds – the second of which went through for Lapsansky’s seventh goal of the year with 3:42 left.
With Owen pulled, Ben Marshall ripped a point shot with 1:06 left to cut the deficit to 4-3, but Matt Finn’s empty-netter sealed the game for Missouri.
“We have a group of guys who work hard. All the guys in the room care about the team. We want to make the playoffs,” Lavoie said. “It’s not about effort, it’s about details.”
- Tyler Barnes (MO) G, A, +3
- Andrew Courtney (MO) G, A, 5 shots
- Rocco Carzo (MO) G, A
- Despite the loss, it was good to be home for a team that had been on its lengthiest roadtrip of the season. They’ll have three days of practice before heading out to a brief two-game trip to Cincinnati and Toledo this weekend, and then be home for eight of the next 10 games. “It’s good for the guys to be in their own beds,” Hillman said. “That’s a long trip. Eleven, 12 days on the road is not easy. Now, we have a few days.”
- The Fuel are continuing to find strong offense, scoring three times against the ECHL’s top defensive team. This was the 10th time in the last 16 games the Fuel had scored at least three goals in regulation, going 6-4 in those games. What’s big is the balance – several players have between seven and 14 goals. “There’s been so much progress in the way guys are playing, moving the puck, getting to the back door,” Hillman said. “The bottom line, they’re getting to the right areas, they’re moving the puck fairly well to create that. You’ve got to win with solid defensive play, though.”
- The Fuel finished the year 0-6-0 against the Mavericks – who are now 42-7-3 on the season – with five of the six games in Independence. Three of the games were decided by one goal, the other three by two goals.
- The 5-on-3 penalty kill was nothing short of spectacular, both from the Fuel players’ ability to keep the play on the perimeter – Orlando had one back-door look and the rest of the shots came from the points – and from Owen, who made seven saves in rapid-fire succession. “Shane is a great goalie,” Lavoie said. “He’s been really good for us this year.” The Fuel have not given up a power play goal at home since Jan. 17, a span of seven games.
- The Fuel power play was 1-for-4, with the 5-on-3 goal, but also generated a number of other chances on the two full-length 5-on-4 situations – especially one in the first period, where Zach Miskovic’s big slapshot set up a handful of chances, and Michael Colantone had a redirection in front that Milner was able to stop with the pad. “It was great to see the power play get one,” Hillman said.
- Tuesday’s game marked center Brandon Wong’s first
game at home. He had a near-goal and a couple of chances, with three shots on goal. “He’s a veteran guy, he plays with a good amount of grit and has great offensive potential,” Hillman said. “He does a solid job defensively, That’s why we wanted to acquire him. He had some good chances. We’re trying to get some chemistry built in between him and a few guys, and get some line consistency.”
- Lavoie tallied his fourth consecutive multi-point game. He has four goals and four assists in the last four contests.
- Lapsansky’s goal snapped a five-game goalless streak. Marshall’s goal and Colantone’s assist on the Lapsansky tally snapped three-game scoreless streaks for each.
Cody Sharib-Alex Lavoie-Daniel Ciampini
Adam Lapsansky-Brandon Wong-Peter Schneider
Dylan Clarke-Michael Colantone-Rhett Bly
Nick Petrecki-Zach Miskovic
Nick Mattson-Anders Franzon
Sam Jardine-Ben Marshall
BU: Keegan Asmundson
Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Trevor Campbell, Casey Thrush (res), Andrew Johnston (res), Dillon Fournier (IR)
Next up: The Fuel travel to Cincinnati for a Saturday night contest, then head to Toledo Sunday afternoon. They’ll return home March 4 to face Utah in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.