Game 6: Fuel vs. Allen

Coming into the weekend, the Indy Fuel knew it was a matter of time before the offense broke out in a big way.

Fuel defenseman Matt Stanisz battles Allen's Gary Steffes (12) for the puck during Saturday's tilt. Photo by Whiteshark Photography

Fuel defenseman Matt Stanisz battles Allen’s Gary Steffes (12) for the puck during Saturday’s tilt. Photo by Whiteshark Photography

It did Saturday night against the two-time defending Kelly Cup champions, as the Fuel scored six goals. But the Allen Americans scored in the final minute of regulation and beat the Fuel 7-6 when Chad Costello – the reigning ECHL scoring leader – scored on a counter-rush 38 seconds into overtime.

The overtime loss snapped a three-game pointless streak for the Fuel, who earned a point in the standings, and moved the record to 2-3-1. They play a home-and-home against two division rivals next week, starting Friday in Fort Wayne before moving to Indy for a Saturday tilt against Quad City.

The Fuel came back from three different deficits in the opening two periods – tying the contest in the waning moments of each period. In the third, it was Allen’s time to turn the table, as Indy took 5-4 and 6-5 leads on goals by Marek Tvrdon and Brady Ramsay, but each was answered. Eric Roy’s screened shot from the point with 47 seconds left sent the game into OT, where Costello won it.

“It was a good game tonight,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “There were a lot of goals, it was back and forth, it was exciting for the fans. Unfortunately, we came up on the short end of the stick, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.”

The offensive explosion was big for the Fuel, who scored a season-high and came one goal shy of tying the team single-game record. Tvrdon scored twice – giving him three goals in the two weekend games. Kevin Lynch had a goal and an assist. Nick Mattson, Alex Wideman, Jonathan Carlsson, Dillon Fournier and newcomer Brent Chyzyk all had two assists.

“We did a lot of things well tonight,” Lynch said. “We were averaging 1.8 goals per game coming into this weekend. One of our goals was to get a lot of shots on net and crash the net. Nine times out of 10, when you score six goals, you’re going to win the hockey game. There’s a lot of things we still need to clean up – with our defensive zone coverage and funneling back into our own end. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but like we’ve shown tonight, we’ve got a lot of firepower in the locker room.”

In an end-to-end game that saw 83 shots – 43 by the Fuel, including 17 in the second period – the goaltenders saw a lot of chances.

“Over the last three games, the shots on net are way up,” John said. “When that happens, we start scoring some goals. A lot of good things happened. We’ve got to shore up our defensive end, but that’s a good hockey team over there. They have a lot of veterans, a lot of older guys who have played a long time in this league, they play a patient game.”

“We’ve just got to tighten up defensively,” Lynch added. “Because you don’t have to score six goals to win every hockey game, as long as you’re scoring a few and you’re not giving up any.”

Costello’s game-winner came in the Fuel’s first overtime game of the year, with a lot of open ice in the 3-on-3. Indy held early possession, but Allen’s Spencer Asuchak pounced on a loose puck in his defensive zone and turned it into a 2-on-1 with one of the league’s top snipers finishing the play. That came after the game-tying goal ith an extra attacker on the ice and 47 seconds left. After an initial save by the Fuel’s Jake Hildebrand, Ashuchak kept the play alive and Greger Hanson – both of whom had three-point nights – cycled the puck to Roy at the center point, who was able to get it through several screens.

“We get the puck, we’ve got to get it going north instead of pushing it back or trying to freeze it, but those are learning things,” John said. “We’re a young hockey team. Some guys are first-year pros, some guys are playing in the system for a little bit. The positive is we’re scoring goals.”

After coming back from a 4-2 deficit in the second, Indy took the upper hand twice early in the third. The Fuel came out flying, and it paid off with Tvrdon’s second goal of the night at 5:11, as a 200-foot rush led to him getting to the low slot and score. Allen answered with a mid-slot goal by Jake Marchment three minutes later to knot the game back up at 5-5. With three minutes left, Costello had a chance to give his team the lead again as he cut around the defender and in on goal, but Hildebrand stuffed him with the pads and denied a rebound.

Less than a minute later, the Fuel re-took the lead as Patrick D’Amico carried up-ice against two defensemen. His initial shot was wide and came around the boards, but Nick Mattson held the rebound in at the point. His cross-ice pass deflected to Chyzyk, who found Brady Ramsay at the side of the net for a go-ahed goal with 2:18 to go.

The Fuel spent the first 40 minutes rallying back from deficits. Indy carried the play early, but found itself down 2-1 as Allen scored on two of its first three shots. A defensive zone turnover set up Greger Hanson for a goal 2:04 into the game, and Asuchak buried a rebound at 10:30. Each would finish with a three-point night, two of four Allen players to do so. The second Allen goal came 39 seconds after Patrick D’Amico got Indy on the board by following up Chyzyk on a 2-on-1. Chyzyk beat Allen goaltender Jamie Murray clean but rang the post. D’Amico followed up the play and buried the rebound.

But the fireworks came at the end of the first period – and again in the second – with the Matt Rupert-Lynch-Tyler Currier line on the ice. The Fuel forecheck brought pressure late and Currier beat the buzzer with a goal at the end of the first. In the second, the same would happen – Allen’s Matt Willows scored at :55 and 6:13 to give the Americans a 4-2 lead, but Tvrdon’s power play goal cut the deficit to one and Lynch tied it with 1:06 left in the period on a shot from the point that broke through Murray and trickled over the line.

“That was simple hockey – winning a face-off, going to the net, our defensemen keeping the pucks low,” Lynch said. “A lot of times we’ve been shooting over the net. If you keep them low, there’s a chance for a rebound or a deflection, and that’s what happened there.

Lynch scored his first goal of the season, while Currier had his third – tying for the team lead.

“We scored two goals at the end of two periods,” Lynch said of his line. “If you make things too complicated and try to over-pass – that’s what we were doing early in the year. Our mentality tonight was be simple, put pucks on net, and we got a couple of goals.”

Boxscore

Three stars

  1. Greger Hanson (ALN) G, 2A
  2. Marek Tvrdon (Fuel) 2G
  3. Chad Costello (ALN) GWG, 2A

Takeaways

  1. If you’re looking for a reason to see the value of the NHL/AHL affiliate system in the ECHL, this was the game to show it. Allen received two players from AHL San Jose earlier in the day – Jake Marchment and Matt Willows. They combined for three goals. Chyzyk, also assigned to the Fuel Saturday by Rockford, had two assists in his ECHL debut. He assisted on D’Amico’s first-period goal for his first pro point, after which D’Amico made sure to save the puck. Chyzyk and his former North Dakota teammate Nick Mattson both assisted on Ramsay’s go-ahead goal in the third. “You can tell he’s been in the AHL,” John said of Chyzyk. “They play a simpler game – they keep it simple, keep it smart, they let the game come to them. That’s something they can feed off and reiterate to the other guys. If you want to get to the American League, you’ve got to keep it simple. His speed is great, it was a great treat for him to come down.”
  2. The six goals were one shy of a team record set Jan. 29, 2016 in a 7-3 win over Evansville. The 13 total goals tied the team record, set Dec. 5, 2014 in a 7-6 regulation loss to Florida.
  3. The Fuel have battled back in both of this weekend’s games. While neither saw a win, it did see Indy get a point after being down three goals on Friday against Tulsa – and closing back to 3-2 – and seeing three different deficits against Allen, including a two-goal deficit that was quickly erased. “It’s the never-give-up mentality. It’s obviously a positive attribute to have,” Lynch said. “That’s a great thing to see early on. A lot of guys are young and trying to learn to play in this league. Anybody can come back at any time in this league.”
  4. Lynch and Ramsay scored their first goals of the season on Saturday. Patrick D’Amico and Marek Tvrdon had their second and third, respectively, after tallying their first goals of the year the previous night. “A big thing is just confidence,” Lynch said of what the six-goal outburst will bring forht. “A lot of guys were kind of gripping their sticks. Myself, I was waiting to get that first one in there. It was good to get the monkey off my back.”
  5. For the second straight night, the Fuel scored with the man advantage – with Tvrdon tallying both power play goals. Indy was 1-for-2 on the PP, but did not allow Allen a single PP. “They’re playing disciplined, but it’s not for lack of finishing checks and making hits,” John said. “We’re finishing checks, we’re hitting hard, but we’re playing clean, we’re playing smart. We’re doing the good things to stay out of the box, and our power play is doing the job.”
  6. Each of the Fuel’s three offensive lines chipped in goals and five different players scored, showing solid scoring balance. Much of the offense came through the defense, as three different blueliners – Nick Mattson, Jonathan Carlsson and Dillon Fournier – had two assists each. Mattson now has points in three of his first four games. Fournier’s two-point game were his first points of the season.
  7. Tvrdon, Lynch and Alex Wideman also had two-point nights – playing on two separate lines. Wideman’s two-goal game in the Oct. 14 season opener against Cincinnati had been the only multi-point game for the Fuel this season prior to Friday.
  8. In addition to Chyzyk, another player made his Fuel debut – Chris Williams was acquired mid-week and quickly made his presence known by fighting Allen’s Derek Mathers in the first period. He finished with a +1 rating.
  9. Indy had 43 shots. Thirteen came from the trio of Tvrdon (5), Anthony Beauregard (2) and Wideman (6).

Lineup

Matt Rupert-Kevin Lynch-Tyler Currier
Marek Tvrdon-Anthony Beauregard-Alex Wideman
Brent Chyzyk-Patrick D’Amico-Brady Ramsay
Raphael Corriveau

Drew Schiestel-Jonathan Carlson
Nick Mattson-Matt Stanisz
Dillon Fournier-Chris Williams

Jake Hildebrand
BU: Eric Levine

Scratches: Randy Cure, Martin Bellus, Kyle Shapiro (res), Cody Sharib (res), Zach Miskovic (IR), Paxton Leroux (IR)

Roster moves: The Fuel added Bryn Chyzyk, who was assigned by Rockford, and placed forward Paxton Leroux on 21-day injured reserve.

Next up: The Fuel travel to Fort Wayne for a Friday tilt next week, then return home Saturday, Nov. 5 to face Quad City in a 7:35 p.m. puck drop.