In the first three games of their five-game roadtrip, the Indy Fuel took an early lead only to see their hosts come storming back.
Thursday night, the Fuel were in the position of being the team to come back, but it fell just short in a 3-1 loss at Cincinnati.
Indy fell behind 2-0 after two periods, but newcomer Alex Guptill scored with a blast in the third to cut the deficit to one, but the Fuel couldn’t find the equalizer before a late empty-netter.
Indy has now dropped seven straight games in regulation and is winless in eight. The Fuel are now 8-13-1 on the season.
Guptill – who was acquired earlier in the week in a trade with the Allen Americans – made an impression in his first game with the Fuel. He fired a blast through a screen from the right circle off the rush just 4:26 into the third period to cut the deficit to one.
The Fuel had a chance minutes later when Kevin Lynch had a shorthanded breakaway, but he was unable to pull his shot under the bar to tie. Cincinnati’s Michael Houser made 27 saves, including a couple of spectacular ones. Early in the third, he robbed Fuel newcomer Robin Press of a back-door goal for one of his many outstanding saves of the night.
Fuel netminder Eric Levine had a solid game, making 28 saves on 30 shots. Cincinnati took an early lead when leading scorer Andrew Yogan tallied a goal 3:20 into the game. In the second, the game opened up a bit after the teams combined for 10 shots in the first. Yogan centered Justin Kirkland for a goal to put the Cyclones up 2-0 85 seconds into the period. Indy had back-to-back power plays later in the period but Houser was spectacular in net.
Yogan was one of two Cyclones with two points. Peter Leblanc also had two assists.
The two teams play again Friday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, which will conclude the Fuel’s five-game road swing. The Fuel return home Saturday to face Quad City in the first of three straight at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
- Andrew Yogan (CIN) G/A
- Peter Leblanc (CIN) 2A
- Michael Houser (CIN) 27 saves
- This was the first game with a new-look Fuel lineup, with three new faces. In addition to Guptill scoring in his first game, Robin Press and Justin MacDonald made their Fuel debuts. Press had been assigned from AHL Rockford earlier in the week, and MacDonald was signed from the SPHL’s Evansville Thunderbolts. Press also had a strong debut with six shots on goal. MacDonald had one shot in his debut, as did Guptill.
- Brady Ramsay returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 27 and skated on his regular line with Matt Rupert and Patrick D’Amico – the latter of which has also recently returned from injury. He had a shot on goal.
- A lot of Fuel offense is generated from the blue line, and the same came on the Guptill goal. The newly-formed pairing of Matt Stanisz and Jonathan Carlsson had the assists. Stanisz now has eight points on the year, Carlsson has 10. Stanisz snapped a five-game scoreless string with the assist. They are two of the Fuel’s top three scoring defensemen – Nick Mattson has nine points.
- Indy had its best defensive effort since a 2-1 loss to Missouri on Nov. 27. But the Fuel are now 0-8-0 when scoring one or fewer goals, and are 2-10-0 when scoring two or fewer. The Fuel’s key has been scoring three goals – they are 6-3-1 when tallying at least three. Thursday was one of Levine’s stronger performances, but he’s had some hard-luck losses in goaltending duels – Indy is 0-2-0 when he allows two goals.
- Indy is now 2-2-0 against Cincinnati this season, and all of the games have been low-scoring affairs. After Friday’s contest, their next meeting will be a home-and-home beginning Dec. 30 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The teams will meet 12 times this season, with five of the 12 meetings coming in December.
Alex Wideman-Kevin Lynch-Tyler Currier
Matt Rupert-Patrick D’Amico-Brady Ramsay
Tristan King-Alex Guptill-Justin MacDonald
Nick Mattson-Robin Press
Matt Stanisz-Jonathan Carlsson
Keevin Cutting-Zach Miskovic
BU: Keegan Asmundson
Scratches: Chris Williams, Bryn Chyzyk (res), Cody Sharib (IR)
Next up: The Fuel are back at U.S. Bank Arena for a 7:35 p.m. Friday game against the Cyclones. Indy returns home at 7:35 p.m. Saturday to face the Quad City Mallards.