The Indy Fuel did what few teams have been able to do in recent weeks – hold the Toledo Walleye to two goals.
But the Walleye were able to get a strong 24-save performance from netminder Jake Paterson and hold off the Fuel 2-1 Sunday afternoon at the Huntington Bank Arena. The Toledo victory continued a red-hot stretch that has vaulted the Walleye to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. It also ended a February where the Fuel played nine of 11 games on the road – and played nearly half its schedule against the top team in each conference.
Daniel Ciampini continued a hot streak of his own for the Fuel, scoring a goal in his third straight game. His tally tied the game in the first period, but Toledo’s Josh Shalla got behind the defense and scored late in the second, which broke the tie and turned out to be the game-winner.
Shalla’s goal came with 2:51 left in the middle period on a play sprung by Andrew Prochno. It came after each team killed off a penalty in the middle part of the frame. In the third, Indy had two power plays, but Paterson – a Red Wings goaltending prospect – was able to make seven saves to seal the Toledo victory.
In the opening period, A.J. Jenks buried the rebound of a Tyler Maxwell shot to give the Walleye a lead 12:07 in, but it didn’t last long.
Forty-seven seconds later, Ben Marshall won a puck battle with Jenks below the goal line, then threaded a backhand pass to Ciampini on the doorstep. The rookie one-timed his 10th goal of the year with a backhand over Paterson’s glove to tie the game at 1-1.
The Fuel followed with a power play, and Toledo had one late in the period, but both teams were perfect on the kill – Indy finished the game 0-4 on the power play, Toledo 0-3.
Keegan Asmundson got his second straight start for the Fuel, and made 30 saves in the loss.
- Josh Shalla (TOL) GWG, 5 shots
- A.J. Jenks (TOL) G, 6 shots
- Jake Paterson (TOL) 24 saves
- Daniel Ciampini is red-hot, and today became the fifth active Fuel player – and sixth overall this season – to reach double-digits in goals. He has a three-game goal scoring streak, and a four-game point streak going. Since returning from a two-week callup to Rockford on Jan. 22, he has seven goals and eight assists in 15 games. He has tallied a point in seven of the nine February games he has played – he missed two games in Orlando due to another brief callup to the AHL.
- Alex Lavoie, who had the secondary assist on Ciampini’s goal, has points in seven of his last nine games. He now has four goals and five assists in his last six outings, and a 13-31-44 line for the season. Defenseman Ben Marshall had the primary assist and has hit the 20-assist mark on the season.
- One thing that has led to the Fuel’s increased offense of late is the activity from the blueline. Marshall came below the goal line to win a puck battle from two Walleye players, leading to Ciampini’s goal.
- On Saturday, the Fuel ended one of the ECHL’s longest home winning streaks, with the 3-2 shootout win in Cincy snapping the Cyclones’ seven-game streak on home ice. Today, Toledo extended its winning streak to five games, and its home streak to 12. The Walleye have won 16 of their last 17 games at home, and this game marked just the third time in that stretch of 17 games the Walleye have been held to two goals.
- The Fuel had scored at least two goals in 12 straight games before today.
- Keegan Asmundson’s start gave Shane Owen his first two-game break since Jan. 17 and Jan. 22, when Mac Carruth started back-to-back games. Carruth was called up to Rockford on Jan. 23, and has been there since. Today, the Blackhawks announced they had signed Carruth to an NHL contract for the remainder of the season – he had been playing on an AHL deal with Rockford. Asmundson has a .922 save percentage in three games with the Fuel, and stopped 61 of 65 shots this weekend (.939).
- Home will be sweet for the Fuel, who have won seven of their last eight in the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. They’ll be home for eight of the next 10 games, starting this weekend when Utah makes its first-ever visit to Indy, and Cincinnati makes its second of five visits to the Coliseum this year. Both of those games will be key, as the Fuel are chasing both teams for playoff position in the Western Conference. Indy is currently four points back of eighth-place Colorado in the conference standings, and eight points back of both Utah and Cincinnati.
Adam Lapsansky-Alex Lavoie-Daniel Ciampini
Dylan Clarke-Brandon Wong-Peter Schneider
Cody Sharib-Michael Colantone-Rhett Bly
Nick Mattson-Zach Miskovic
Ben Marshall-Anders Franzon
Sam Jardine-Trevor Campbell
BU: Shane Owen
Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Casey Thrush, Josh Brittain (IR), Dillon Fournier (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host the Utah Grizzlies on Friday, and then welcome the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday.