Game 31: Fuel at Cincinnati

Two impressive goals got the Indy Fuel going Saturday night in Cincinnati.

But the Cyclones’ Brandon McNally scored off a face-off with 5:12 left, and goaltender Michael Houser made a number of point-blank saves in the closing minutes to stave off a rally, giving Cincinnati a 3-2 victory over the Fuel at U.S. Bank Arena.

The Fuel were playing two men short. While they dressed a full 16-man roster, two players – Brady Ramsay and Matt Stanisz – did not see game action. Both are nursing injuries, but were dressed to serve penalties or participate in emergency situations. That effectively left Indy with 14 players, including four defensemen. The Fuel lost two blueliners in a short span Friday – Jonathan Carlsson to a callup, and Stanisz to an injury late in Friday’s contest.

The Fuel battled to the closing horn, making it the fifth straight game that saw a one-goal margin going into the final minute. Indy is 1-3-1 in those five contests, having suffered a couple of last-minute heartbreaks.

This one saw McNally’s goal spoil a third-period comeback by Indy thanks to Kevin Lynch’s highlight-reel power play goal. In the closing minutes, Alex Wideman and Lynch were both robbed by Houser on point-blank chances that would’ve tied the game. A late power play gave the Fuel a 6-on-4 advantage with goaltender Eric Levine pulled, but Cincinnati was able to clear the zone twice and thwart the effective two-man advantage.

McNally’s game-winner came off a draw, assisted by Jordan Sims and Seth Ambroz. Both mcNally and Sims finished the night with a goal and an assist in the third period. Sims’ goal came early in the third, a power-play tally at the top of the crease, giving his team a 2-1 lead.

That set up Lynch with a highlight-reel tally to knot the game at 2-2. With Arvin Atwal serving a delay of game penalty, Lynch entered the zone with speed up the right side, carried wide around one defender then used an inside-out move to lose the defenseman and get to the front of the net, where he beat Houser in tight for the second straight night. That tally came with 8:09 left in the third.

Early on, Bryn Chyzyk scored on a 4-on-4 breakaway sprung by Zach Miskovic to give the Fuel a 1-0 lead. Cincinnati answered with Troy Vance’s unassisted goal with 2:27 left in the opening period. In the second, each team killed two penalties and Levine stopped 17 shots, but the game remained tied 1-1.

Levine made 40 saves in the loss. Houser stopped 25 shots in the Cincinnati net.

The Fuel are back in action at 3:05 p.m. Sunday against the Brampton Beast, closing a five-games-in-six-nights stretch. It will be their final home game before a brief four-game road trip that will take them to Allen, Wichita and Quad City.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Brandon McNally (CIN) GWG/A
  2. Jordan Sims (CIN) G/A
  3. Michael Houser (CIN) 25 saves

Takeaways

  1. It was long overdue, but Bryn Chyzyk scored his first professional goal. The rookie speedster from the reigning NCAA champs turned on the jets for the breakaway. After missing eight games with an injury, he’s made an impression with a goal and an assist in his first two games back. Chyzyk also had three shots in the contest.
  2. Kevin Lynch’s goal continued his recent hot streak, and showed the creative stick handling that makes him a dangerous threat in the offensive zone. He beat the entire left side of Cincinnati’s penalty kill with speed and two moves and made no mistake on Houser. He has points in four straight games, and now has 19 points for the season.
  3. Zach Miskovic, the captain who had the assist to spring Chyzyk, now has points in four of his last five games.
  4. In a 72-game season, there will be nights where roster moves leave a team shorthanded. It’s happened to teams visiting the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in the past, and it happened to the Fuel with callups and injuries hitting the team this week, and leaving them with four defensemen. Tip the cap to Robin Press, Nick Mattson, Miskovic and Chris Williams for doing yeoman work as a four-man defensive crew, especially in a road game.
  5. The Fuel PP was 1-for-4 and has now tallied four power play goals in the last four games. Cincinnati was 1-for-3 on the PP. The Fuel did kill off a brief 5-on-3.
  6. Indy is now 3-4-0 against Cincinnati, as the two teams split the weekend series, each team winning by a 3-2 score. The two teams next meet Jan. 21-22, with both games at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Those will be the eighth and ninth of 12 meetings this season between the I-74 rivals.

Lineup

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

Nick Mattson-Robin Press
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic

Eric Levine
BU: Jake Hildebrand

(Brady Ramsay and Matt Stanisz dressed but did not play)

Scratches: Raphael Corriveau (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)

Roster moves: On Friday, the Fuel acquired RW Brady Montgomery from Orlando in exchange for future considerations. On Saturday, the Fuel claimed D Brandon Martell off waivers from Tulsa.

Next up: The Fuel return home at 3:05 p.m. Sunday to face the Brampton Beast.