Game 17: Fuel vs. Missouri

Less than three minutes into the game, the Indy Fuel found themselves down on the scoreboard against a rested Missouri Mavericks team.

The Mavericks never let up, handing the Fuel their first regulation loss in more than two weeks by a 6-1 score Saturday night at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

Ryan Keller (12) boxes out Missouri's Radoslav Illo as Fuel goaltender Eric Levine squares up to the puck during Saturday's loss to Missouri. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

Ryan Keller (12) boxes out Missouri’s Radoslav Illo as Fuel goaltender Eric Levine squares up to the puck during Saturday’s loss to Missouri. Photo by Whiteshark Photography.

The loss snapped a seven-game streak of games where the Fuel garnered points – a 6-0-1 run that also included four straight wins on home ice. The Fuel are now 8-7-2 on the season.

With rested legs, the Mavericks were able to continue pressing their advantage. The Fuel were playing their third game in four days, which included an overtime contest Friday at Quad City, while Missouri had been off since Tuesday in Orlando. The Mavericks outshot the Fuel 41-23, including 23-14 in the opening two periods.

“We don’t want to make excuses as far as being lazy or tired,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “There’s teams that have been in that situation against us. To us, it’s not an excuse. We weren’t prepared, we weren’t ready, however you want to draw that up, we had mismanagement with the puck. We were dropping the puck when we could shoot it, we weren’t getting shots when we should have. It was one of those games all over the ice.”

Missouri’s Dan Correale set the tone early with an unfortunate bounce for the Fuel, as goaltender Eric Levine had stopped a shot, but the puck popped out of his glove. Correale found it and scored 2:25 into the game.

“We’ve just got to do a better job,” John said. “Our goaltenders make the first save, no matter if they catch it, swarm it, hold onto it, we’ve got to do a better job of clearing the front of the net.”

Matt Stanisz provided the Fuel’s tally, blasting home a one-timer from the point off a strong cycle by Tyler Currier and Anthony Beauregard 3:30 into the third period. That cut the lead to 4-1, but Missouri added two power play goals, the first coming from Kevin Schempp on an extended 5-on-3 that was compounded by an unsportsmanlike conduct minor. Radoslav Illo added another power play tally with 5:46 left to make it 6-1.

Matt Stanisz scored the Fuel's goal in a 6-1 loss to Missouri. Photo by Whiteshark Photography

Matt Stanisz scored the Fuel’s goal in a 6-1 loss to Missouri. Photo by Whiteshark Photography

“We got a little bit selfish – we score to make it 4-1, we gore a penalty and then we take another one with our mouths,” John said.

The Mavericks scored twice in each period. After Correale’s early goal, Lukas Lofquist scored twice on centering passes to the goalmouth – at 9:25 of the first and 6:33 of the second – to give the Mavericks a 3-0 lead. Rocco Carzo had a highlight-reel goal late in the second. Levine stopped Luke Juha’s initial shot, and the rebound popped into the air. Carzo swung his stick and batted it out of mid-air and in.

Lofquist, Schempp, Illo and Correale were four of six players who had multi-point games for Missouri. Lofquist had two goals, the others had a goal and an assist each. Blueliners Kevin Tansey and Matt Finn each had assists on the Mavericks’ two third-period goals. Josh Robinson, last year’s ECHL Goaltender of the Year, had 22 saves for Missouri.

The Fuel and Mavericks play again at 3:05 p.m. Sunday. Indy is a perfect 3-0 when playing a team for the second straight day.

“We’ve got to come with a little bit better focus, a little bit better effort,” John said. “Even though we’re playing at home, we’ve got to simplify the game. We’ve got some guys with tired legs, some guys are staying out a little too long. You can’t do that when you play seven in 10 with no extra bodies. We’ve got a lot of bodies here, but a lot are injured bodies. We’ve got to make sure we shorten our shifts, play the pucks in safe areas. We’ve got to play it like a road game and play it simple.”

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Lukas Lofquist (MO) 2G
  2. Kevin Schempp (MO) G/A
  3. Dan Correale (MO) G/A

Takeaways

  1. Saturday was one of those games that happens in a 72-game season – the Fuel could build very little momentum as Missouri was able to carry the play for much of the game. Little was connecting in the attacking zone, and Missouri did an excellent job of collapsing in front of Robinson and preventing the Fuel players from getting to rebounds – which has been Indy’s bread-and-butter. “That’s what we’ve been doing in our recent streak. We’re getting our goals in the dirty areas, in the net front, we’re getting pucks through,” John said. “Tonight, it just seemed like we couldn’t get anything going. We just couldn’t find the back of the net to try to propel us.”
  2. The first two periods were played fairly cleanly – the lone power play went to the visitors in the opening frame, which the Fuel killed – but the third got a bit chippy. Indy had two more power plays, the first coming shortly after Stanisz’s goal, a holding penalty to Rocco Carzo. The Fuel would get three power plays in the third, including a brief 5-on-3. Missouri would get four – including an extended 5-on-3 that ended in a goal. The Mavericks scored twice on the power play in the third and went 2-for-5 in the game.
  3. Eric Levine started the game in net, making 19 saves in two periods. Jake Hildebrand came on for the third period and stopped 16 shots. It was the first relief appearance for a Fuel goaltender this season.
  4. Stanisz’s goal was his first in a four-game span. He leads Fuel defensemen with four goals on the season, and is second among blueliners with seven points.
  5. Alex Wideman (5 multi-point games), Kevin Lynch (4 games) and Matt Rupert (3 games) all had scoring streaks snapped. Anthony Beauregard, who had the secondary assist on Stanisz’s goal, had a point for the second straight game. Tyler Currier’s assist snapped a five-game scoreless streak. Beauregard, Stanisz and newcomer Brandon Carlson each finished the night +1.
  6. Prior to the game, the Fuel held a moment of silence for late Fort Wayne broadcaster Bob Chase, who called more than 5,000 hockey games in his 63-year broadcasting career. He passed away Thursday at age 90.
  7. Missouri is now 2-0-0 against the Fuel. Sunday’s meeting will be the last of this season’s three meetings.
  8. Missouri had a familiar face on its blueline in Ryan Obuchowski. The defenseman played two seasons of junior hockey for the Indiana Ice from 2010-12, and recently completed a four-year career at Yale. He had three shots and was +2 in his return to the Coliseum.

Lineup

Marek Tvrdon-Kevin Lynch-Alex Wideman
Matt Rupert-Anthony Beauregard-Tyler Currier
Bryn Chyzyk-Brady Ramsay-Ryan Keller
Raphael Corriveau

Nick Mattson-Jonathan Carlsson
Brandon Carlson-Matt Stanisz
Randy Cure-Chris Williams

Eric Levine
Jake Hildebrand

Scratches: Keevin Cutting, Tristan King, Patrick D’Amico (res), Evan Mosey (res), Zach Miskovic (IR), Cody Sharib (IR), Paxton Leroux (IR)

Next up: Indy hosts Missouri in a rematch at 3:05 p.m. Sunday. The Fuel’s homestand concludes Friday, Dec. 2 at home against Cincinnati.