Game 29: Fuel at Quad City

The last time the Indy Fuel headed to Quad City, they were looking to extend a season-long winning streak. Wednesday night, the Fuel looked to snap another kind of streak.

Josh Shalla’s fifth goal in two nights tied the game and secured a point for the Fuel in a 3-2 shootout loss at Quad City. The shootout loss snapped a 12-game streak of regulation losses for Indy, which had come in having dropped two straight heartbreakers in regulation.

While the Fuel weren’t able to secure their first victory, garnering the point is a step in the right direction heading into Friday’s return home against Cincinnati. It was especially so given the Fuel were playing their second road game in as many nights against a rested team.

Quad City’s Alex Petan won the game in the fifth round of the shootout, after the Fuel’s Jake Hildebrand and Quad City’s C.J. Motte held the fort in the first four rounds. Alex Guptill was stopped by Motte on the Fuel’s fifth-round attempt to seal the game.

Nolan LaPorte gave Quad City a lead in the first period, and then the Fuel had to kill three successive power plays to keep the game at 1-0. Two of those came i the first period, where the Mallards outshot the Fuel 12-4. Indy tilted the ice in the other direction in the second, outshooting QC 28-16 in the remainder of regulation.

The Fuel broke through in the third with Ryan Keller’s second goal in three games coming with 13:11 left. Quad City’s Donnie Harris game his team the lead back just over two minutes later, putting the Fuel back in a third-period hole. That’s when Guptill set up Shalla for the game-tying goal with 6:23 left in the game.

Hildebrand held the fort in OT – including a breakaway save in the final minute – as well as Motte, who made 31 saves in the game to get the win.

Boxscore

Three stars

  1. C.J. Motte (QC) 31sv
  2. Nolan LaPorte (QC) G
  3. Mike Monfredo (QC)

Takeaways

  1. To say the Fuel are a team that deserves better these last few games is an understatement. They were 2.5 seconds away from taking one of the hottest teams in the league to OT last Thursday, then scored six goals in half a game Tuesday night before seeing it go with a late goal. Here, the Fuel showed resiliency – again, scoring to respond to an early deficit, and again responding to a third-period deficit. The shootout is a coin flip, but a solid road point for the Fuel and a way to build momentum.
  2. When Josh Shalla was acquired a couple of weeks back, it was to bolster the Fuel’s scoring. He’s had a solid return from the Christmas break – scoring five goals now in two games. He skated with Alex Guptill – who has also had a hot stretch in late December – and Kevin Lynch.
  3. Ryan Keller scored his first ECHL goal last Thursday when the Fuel played Brampton. A recent callup from the SPHL, where he has played with the Peoria Rivermen, and said after that game he wanted to stick in the ECHL with the Fuel. He’s shown well in his second stint with the team, scoring his second goal in three games with the Fuel. He seems to be meshing well with Patrick D’Amico and Matt Rupert on a strong two-way line.
  4. Matt Rupert now has assists in back-to-back games, as he had the helper on Keller’s goal. Alex Guptill had the first assist on Shalla’s goal and has points in three straight games. Kevin Lynch has points in two straight games since returning from injury.
  5. The Fuel skated a man short for the third straight game. Jonathan Carlsson was back in the lineup, giving the team a full complement of blueliners, but Brady Ramsay was unavailable. He suffered an apparent injury in Tuesday’s game with Fort Wayne.
  6. The Fuel are now 0-2-2 against Quad City. The teams next meet Jan. 13 at Quad City, which will be the fifth of 10 meetings between the two squads.

Lineup

Alex Guptill-Kevin Lynch-Josh Shalla
Collin MacDonald-Alex Wideman-Tristan King
Ryan Keller-Patrick D’Amico-Matt Rupert

Nick Mattson-Robin Press
Matt Stanisz-Jonathan Carlsson
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic

Jake Hildebrand
BU: Eric Levine

Scratches: Brady Ramsay, Bryn Chyzyk (res), Raphael Corriveau (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)

Next up: The Fuel host Cincinnati at 7:35 p.m. Friday for the first of a three-games-in-three-nights stretch. Indy will travel to Cincinnati Saturday evening, then return home for a New Year’s Day matinee against Brampton.