The Indy Fuel took their final test of the preseason Saturday, falling to the Fort Wayne Komets 5-2 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Martin Bellus and Marek Tvrdon each scored goals for the Fuel, but most importantly, it was one final opportunity to prepare for the regular season, which begins Oct. 14 at home against Cincinnati.
Both goals came on cross-crease passes that eluded the two Komet goaltenders on the stick side. Bellus scored on a 2-on-1 feed from Christian Finch, roofing a shot under the bar in the top corner, while Tvrdon tallied a third-period goal with a perfect back-door feed from Raphael Corriveau that gave him a gaping net to shoot into.
The Fuel were often looking for the pass to the open player in space, and when it clicked, it ended up with a strong scoring chance. But, with players having been together a week and still learning each others’ strengths, they were still feeling each other out.
“I think we’ve had high intensity every single day,” Fuel forward Kevin Lynch said. “The chemistry part is still coming along. Guys are figuring out where each other are on the ice. In preseason, you’re trying to work out the kinks and get in game-ready shape. It was unfortunate we couldn’t get this one tonight, but the boys played well on Friday. We’ll get back to work on Monday and go over some systems, work hard and come out on Friday and try to get the season off on a good note.”
The two teams split the two preseason games. Indy won Friday’s matchup 4-3 in Fort Wayne before Saturday’s Komet victory.
Training camp provides multiple opportunities. It gives coach Bernie John the opportunity to evaluate players as he looks to pare the roster to the 23 players who can begin the season with the team – 21 on the active roster, plus two on reserve. For others, it’s an opportunity to get back into the flow of a game and develop chemistry.
“It’s a way to mold with some linemates and for Coach to figure out line combinations and see how you gel with one another,” forward Tyler Currier said. “It’s definitely a feeling-out process, but it’s nice that (the preseason) is behind us.”
John rested several key players in each game – on Saturday, player-assistant coach Zach Miskovic was behind the bench fulfilling the latter part of that role. Cody Sharib, who had two goals in Friday’s game, also was not in the lineup.
Fort Wayne carried much of the play in the first period, outshooting Indy 15-4. Eric Levine was solid in net, allowing only a rebound goal by Kyle Thomas, as he jammed for the puck in a goalmouth scramble. Thomas scored twice in the contest. In the second, the Comets jumped ahead 3-0 on goals by David Friedmann and Thomas, but Indy answered with Bellus’ goal 39 seconds after Thomas made it 3-1. Mason Baptista scored a power play goal for Fort Wayne to give his team a 4-1 lead after two.
Indy played with a lot of snarl in the third period, and got an early goal from Tvrdon before Fort Wayne’s Cody Sol tallied a late goal to set the margin.
“Some positives were when we became physical and we turned it on a little bit, the play started tilting to their end,” forward Tyler Currier said. “We had some different turnovers and we need to clean that up, but we’ll do that and be ready for Friday night.”
The Fuel have a number of new players – Miskovic, Sharib, Justin Hussar, Michael Colantone and goaltender Keegan Asmundson return from last year’s roster, but several new ones are mixing in.
“We’e got tons of guys that play different styles of games, which is good,” Lynch said. “You need your high-end scorers – we’ve got Tvrdon, (Alex) Wideman, Bellus. You need hard-workers, we’ve got some AHL veterans. We’ve got a good mix of guys. We’re just gelling and learning to play together. With some time, this week, guys will start getting into lines and getting into some chemistry.”
- Kyle Thomas (FW) 2G
- Mason Baptista (FW) G
- Martin Bellus (Fuel) G
- It was a solid tune-up for the Fuel, who were able to get a look at a number of players and make final roster decisions. It will be interesting to see the team at full strength, which we will be able to do Friday night.
- Bellus and Currier had the Fuel’s most shots, with five and three of the team’s 19 during the regulation period.
- Eric Levine played this contest in goal, and made a number of solid saves, his best coming early in the second, when he stuffed Daniel Erlich on a 2-on-1, then got a pad on the rebound to keep the puck out of the net. Levine was the first player assigned by AHL Rockford, but three more are coming.
- The teams played a scoreless five-minute 3-on-3 overtime to give the teams an opportunity to practice OT in a live game situation.
Marek Tvrdon-Kevin Lynch-Martin Bellus
Christian Finch-Alex Wideman-Tyler Currier
Justin Hussar-Michael Colantone-Raphael Corriveau
Nick D’Avolio-Alec Hagaman-Jeff Jones
Randy Cure-Kyle Shapiro
Griffin Foulk-Matt Stanisz
Bo Driscoll-Rich Ledy
BU: Keegan Asmundson
Scratches: Zach Miskovic, Cody Sharib, Matt Rupert, Anthony Beauregard
Roster moves: Before the game, Rockford assigned three players to the Fuel – defensemen Johnathan Carlsson and Nick Mattson, as well as goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Carlsson is a 28-year-old defenseman who split last year between ECHL Evansville and AHL Rockford, posting five points in 46 games for Evansville and nine points in 25 games for Rockford. Mattson is a former USHL Defenseman of the Year who had 15 points in 48 games for the Fuel last season. He also had seven points in 17 AHL games with Rockford. Hildebrand won a Kelly Cup last season with Allen, posting a 2.31 GAA in six games with the Americans after finishing his college career at Michigan State. The trio joins Levine as members of the Fuel under AHL contract.
Also prior to the game, the Fuel traded the rights to defenseman Ben Marshall to the Atlanta Gladiators in exchange for Patrick D’Amico. The right-shot center had 24 points in 67 games for Atlanta and Colorado last season, his rookie year.