Game 56: Fuel at Cincinnati

The Indy Fuel are taking to shootouts quite nicely.

The Fuel won their fourth shootout of the season Saturday night, winning a key divisional game against the Cincinnati Cyclones 3-2 on Daniel Ciampini’s goal in the penalty-shot contest’s final round. Keegan Asmundson made two saves in the shootout – a third Cyclones attempt never generated a shot attempt – and secured the victory.

Indy is a perfect 4-0 in shootouts this season, and opponents are 1-for-14 against Fuel goaltending – the best shootout save percentage in the ECHL.  The four shootout wins have come at the hands of three different goaltenders – Shane Owen, Mac Carruth and now Asmundson, who was making his second start in a Fuel sweater after being signed earlier this month.

Cincinnati’s Andy Iles stopped Rhett Bly and Ben Marshall in the first two rounds. Andrew Yogan lost the puck en route to the goal in the Cyclones’ first round, and Asmundson then stuffed Andrew Pendenza. After Ciampini put the Fuel ahead in the third round by deking to the backhand and roofing a shot over Iles’ glove, Asmundson made a save on Jack Downing, one of the ECHL’s top goal-scorers, to clinch the victory.

Ciampini finished the game with a one-on-one move on Iles. He also started the game with one, scoring the first period’s only tally on a breakaway, using a deke to his forehand and reaching the puck around Iles’ stick and into the open side 7:34 into the game.

Each team had one power play in a physical first period that saw two fights – one between Dylan Clarke and Cincinnati’s Jonathan Diaby 2:46 into the game, and another between Cody Sharib and the Cyclones’ Seth Ambroz at 9:19.

In the second, Michael Colantone gave the Fuel a two-goal edge thanks to some great play behind the net by Peter Schneider. Iles went behind the goal to play a dump-in, but as he went to rim it around the boards, Schneider dove in on the forecheck, stole the puck and fed Colantone in front with an open net. The rookie center made no mistake as he fired it past a diving goaltender with 4:04 left in the second.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long. Colin Mulvey scored 21 seconds later for Cincinnati, but Indy held a 2-1 edge going into the third. Mulvey scored again with 7:24 left in the game to even it up, and both goaltenders made big saves late to clinch a point for each team and send it into the extra period.

In the OT session, the Fuel had a brief power play when Zach Miskovic drew an interference call on Zach Budish, but the game went to a shootout.

Asmundson made 31 saves for his first victory as a member of the Fuel. Iles mad 28 saves for Cincinnati.

Now 27-27-2, the Fuel are back in action Sunday at Toledo.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Colin Mulvey (CIN) 2G, +2, 3 shos
  2. Andy Iles (CIN) 28 saves
  3. Daniel Ciampini (Fuel) G, shootout winner

Takeaways

  1. The victory came in front of one of the largest hockey crowds U.S. Bank Arena has seen since it hosted the WHA’s Cincinnati Stingers, and brought with it a game that matched the intensity of the old Racers-Stingers rivalry. The announced attendance was 16,529.
  2. The victory, coupled with Quad City’s 5-2 loss against Rapid City, also vaulted the Fuel back into third place in the ECHL’s Midwest Division. The Fuel gained a point against a hot Cyclones squad and are currently now eight points back of second-place Cincinnati. Indy remains four points back of Colorado for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
  3. Cincinnati is 2-2-1 at home against the Fuel this season, and 18-3-2 against everyone else. The two will be familiar foes down the stretch. While Fuel will make one more trip to the Queen City on March 31, the Cyclones will visit the Indiana Farmers Coliseum four times in March. The victory also snapped Cincinnati’s seven-game home winning streak.
  4. It marked another division victory for the Fuel, who are now 20-9-2 against the Midwest Division. They’re 4-2-0 against Cincinnati.
  5. Indy’s scoring remains incredibly balanced. Nine active players have at least eight goals – Colantone became the ninth of that group – and none have more than 14. Of that group of nine players, both Colantone and Ciampini have played partial ECHL seasons, as Colantone joined the Fuel in December and Ciampini – who tallied his ninth goal Saturday night – has spent several stints in the AHL.
  6. Peter Schneider’s assist on Colantone’s goal tied him with Rhett Bly for second on the team in scoring. Each has 28 points. Schneider has tallied points in four of his last five and five of his last seven games. Like Schneider, Colantone has points in two straight games.
  7. Ciampini has a three-game scoring streak going. In February, he has tallied eight points in eight games.
  8. Dylan Clarke was on fire. Although he didn’t score, he had six shots on goal. Ben Marshall and Zach Miskovic had four each.
  9. Asmundson now has victories for three different ECHL teams in just less than a calendar year. He joined South Carolina in March 2015 after finishing his college career at Canisius, and has backstopped wins for both Evansville and now Indy this season.
  10. With Nick Petrecki being loaned to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, the Fuel lost one of their shutdown defenders, but Nick Mattson came into the spot on the top pairing alongside Zach Miskovic.
  11. The Fuel close out a February that was largely spent on the road Sunday in Toledo. This game concludes a 10-game stretch where Indy played three teams – Cincinnati, Orlando and Missouri. The Fuel went 0-4 against Missouri – which has 90 points and has the league’s top record – but were 2-1 against each Orlando and Cincinnati. Sunday closes out a February where nine of the 11 games will have been played on the road. Indy is 3-5-0 in those road contests, and 1-1-0 in the home games. In March, the tables will be turned, as the Fuel will play eight of their first 10 in the month at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, four against Cincinnati.

Lineup

Adam Lapsansky-Alex Lavoie-Daniel Ciampini
Dylan Clarke-Brandon Wong-Peter Schneider
Cody Sharib-Michael Colantone-Rhett Bly
Matt White

Nick Mattson-Zach Miskovic
Ben Marshall-Anders Franzon
Trevor Campbell-Sam Jardine

Keegan Asmundson
BU: Shane Owen

Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Casey Thrush, Josh Brittain (IR), Dillon Fournier (IR)

Roster moves: During the week, the Fuel traded Andrew Johnston to Tulsa to complete the Brandon Wong/Trevor Campbell trade. Also, Nick Petrecki signed a professional tryout offer with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

Next up: The Fuel travel to Toledo for a 5 p.m. Sunday game to close out a road-heavy February schedule.

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