The Indy Fuel finished one of their busiest stretches of the season with a strong performance Sunday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
All that was lacking was a bit more finish, as Missouri Mavericks’ goaltender Ville Husso stopped 41 Fuel shots to stymie Indy 2-1 and give the Mavs a sweep of the two-game weekend series.
Indy held a 42-28 shot advantage and carried the play throughout the game, but Tyler Currier’s second-period goal was the only tally. Missouri re-took the lead 94 seconds later on Kevin Tansey’s shorthanded breakaway and Husso made it hold up with a handful of spectacular saves.
“That was probably one of our most complete games,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but their goaltender played well. There’s hockey gods up there – sometimes, if you don’t play well the night before, they don’t reward you the next night. That happened earlier in the year to us – we played badly against Tulsa and played a great game against (Missouri) the next night and we should’ve come out of that with a win and we didn’t. You’ve got to make sure you bring effort every night. If we play the way we did tonight, we’re going to have more wins than losses.”
After a 6-1 loss Saturday night, the Fuel came roaring back on Sunday and began to take control of the ice from the midpoint of the first period on. Indy outshot Missouri 29-15 in the final two periods.
“You can’t really use seven games in 10 days as an excuse,” Currier said. “The boys are tired, but I think we showed a valiant effort tonight. A couple lucky bounces the opposite direction, and that’s how the game turns out.
“The harder you work, the more bounces that come. Tonight, it wasn’t our game in that aspect. The boys battled hard for 60 minutes, it’s frustrating to come out of it with a loss.”
Missouri had the only goal in a swiftly-played first period, as Radoslav Illo brought the puck up the left side, avoided a defender with a deft stickhandling move, then fed Rocco Carzo back-door for the tally 6:01 into the game.
In the second, the trio of Currier and linemates Marek Tvrdon and Anthony Beauregard produced an early goal and nearly had more. The goal came 3:57 in off the second straight clean face-off win by Beauregard. Tvrdon had blasted a shot off the previous draw that was gobbled up by Husso. This time, Tvrdon quickly fed Beauregard low, creating a goalmouth numbers advantage and setting Currier up for a back-door tap-in.
“We were just trying to set up the quick shot to (Tvrdon) there,” Currier said. “They were blocking a couple, so he made a great pass to Beau down low, and he hit me back door. He hit my stick.”
Tvrdon had two near-misses on consecutive shifts midway through the second. Currier sprung him for a clear breakaway. Tvrdon went to the backhand and reached around the goaltender’s pads, but Husso stuck with him and gloved his shot out of mid-air. On the next shift, he hammered a one-timer off a 2-on-1 with Currier. Husso went post-to-post and made a pad save.
“Those are usually money with him. He gets stopped on a breakaway and then the goalie robs him on a 2-on-1 when TC made a great pass,” John said. “We were all buzzing. Every line was contributing.”
Ryan Keller nearly had the equalizer late in the second, with a tip in front that looked destined for the far-side netting but caught a little bit of Husso’s pad. Currier was stopped in front in the first minute, and a strong cycle to Nick Mattson led to a rebound chance that Husso got. In the final minute with goaltender Jake Hildebrand pulled, Currier, Tvrdon and Kevin Lynch created a strong rebound chance, and Alex Wideman got set up for a back-door shot that went just wide.
“We had really good puck management,” John said. “We had a lot of quick pressure and quick transition. We need a little bit more net presence. The first two periods, we needed a little more. The third period, we got a lot, it just wasn’t enough.”
Hildebrand made 26 saves in the Fuel net, his best coming when he stopped three Missouri shots in quick succession on a power play late in the first. He stopped the initial shot and got two rebounds in the crease to hold the puck out.
“Hildy’s awesome,” Currier said. “You don’t want to give up any odd-man rushes, but you know he’s going to make the big stop. We have the utmost confidence in both of our goalies back there.”
The Fuel went 4-2-1 in their seven-in-10 stretch. They now have four days before returning home to face Cincinnati Friday night, which will be their lone game of next weekend before a three-game trip to Brampton and Reading the following week. The Fuel have been dealing with a number of bumps and bruises, and played with a shortened bench Sunday when Brady Ramsay went out mid-game. John said he should be ready by Friday.
“It’s going to be real important, to make sure they get the proper rest, the proper treatment,” John said. “We’ve got a hard stretch coming in again. We’ve got a home game we need to win, then a nice trip to Canada and Reading. We’ve got to make sure we get the two points and push forward.”
- Ville Husso (MO) 41 saves
- Kevin Tansey (MO) GWG
- Jake Hildebrand (Fuel) 26 saves
- Sunday’s effort was a great one by the Fuel, who carried the play.
- The Tvrdon-Beauregard-Currier trio was solid throughout, combining for 11 shots, a goal and several scoring chances. Tvrdon had six of those. “We all play off each other well,” Currier said. “We lost (Ramsay) to an injury and we stuck together the whole game. It’s nice to develop some chemistry – Tvrdon and Beau are great players. They make it easy on me.”
- The Fuel coaches made some changes to the lines before the game, moving Raphael Corriveau to what has been the team’s top scoring line with Lynch and Wideman, and also pairing Matt Rupert and Bryn Chyzyk together with Ramsay/Keller. “We wanted to have a little bit more balance, rather than throw everything on one line,” John said. “We wanted to give Chyzyk a guy to play with in Rupert, and they were very creative. (Beauregard) and Marek have played before. TC is kind of the grinder. We tried to put a grinder on each line to get in on the forecheck and try to create some things. Raph (Corriveau) played well, Keller played really well, and our defense were solid. It was just one of those nights. Tonight’s a night where we’re going to have a lot of positives we can look at on video and build off of.”
- During Saturday’s game, Chris Williams and Missouri’s Jacob Doty had a disagreement that carried over into Sunday’s first period. The two got into a brief post-whistle scrap that drew coincidental roughing minors, then the two dropped the gloves and fought as soon as the minors ended.
- Tansey’s goal was Missouri’s first shorthanded goal of the season. It was the third shorty allowed by the Fuel. Indy was 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, while the Fuel were 0-for-3 with the man advantage
- Currier’s goal snapped an 11-game goalless streak, and also gave him points in back-to-back games. “TC’s been working hard and deserves to score a goal,” John said. “He’s been on the schneid for a little bit. It’s good for him to get off of it – that hopefully leads to more good things to come.”
- Missouri swept the season series from the Fuel, taking all six available points. The Mavericks have now won nine straight against Indy dating back through the last two seasons.
Alex Wideman-Kevin Lynch-Raphael Corriveau
Matt Rupert-Bryn Chyzyk-Brady Ramsay
Marek Tvrdon-Anthony Beauregard-Tyler Currier
Nick Mattson-Jonathan Carlsson
Keevin Cutting-Matt Stanisz
Randy Cure-Chris Williams
BU: Eric Levine
Scratches: Brandon Carlson, Tristan King, Patrick D’Amico (res), Evan Mosey (res), Zach Miskovic (IR), Cody Sharib (IR), Paxton Leroux (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host Cincinnati at 7:35 p.m. Friday.