Game 34: Fuel at Allen

Indy Fuel coach Bernie John often mentions the hockey gods – those keepers of the game that can sometimes punish a team for a sloppy effort or reward them for a job well-done.

His team is overdue for some rewards from the lords of the rink, as the Fuel put together a strong effort Sunday in Allen, rallying from a two-goal deficit to take a third-period lead. However, Eric Roy scored a late power play goal to give the host Americans the lead in an eventual 5-3 victory over the Fuel.

Matt Rupert scored twice in the third period to give the Fuel a 3-2 edge before Zach Hall tied the game with 8:18 left and Roy scored the game-winner with 2:38 to go.

Indy has now dropped four straight games and will be looking to snap an 11-game road winless streak Tuesday in Wichita, the third contest in a four-game roadtrip.

The Fuel fell behind 2-0 five minutes into the second period, when Allen’s Bryan Moore scored his third goal in two days, followed by the 20th goal of the season for perennial ECHL scoring king Chad Costello.

Costello finished the night with a goal and three assists, giving him 62 points on the season in 37 games.

The Fuel chipped away quickly – halving the two-goal deficit 25 seconds after Costello’s goal. Patrick D’Amico scored on a give-and-go with Alex Wideman to get Indy on the board. Goaltender Eric Levine came up big to keep the deficit at one, including stuffing Gary Steffes on a 2-on-0 in the second period. Levine made 31 saves in Fuel net.

Rupert tied the game 59 seconds into the third, whacking a puck past Allen goaltender Jamie Murray in the crease, and then gave the Fuel a lead with a one-timer of Kevin Lynch’s feed from the corner on the power play at 2:40.

Each team had a power play in the final six minutes. Allen was able to kill off its minor, but it received a man advantage with 3:37 left and scored 59 seconds into the man advantage, with Costello setting up Roy. Tanner Eberle scored an empty-netter a minute later.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Eric Roy (ALN) GWG
  2. Chad Costello (ALN) G/3A
  3. Matt Rupert (Fuel) 2G

Takeaways

  1. Chad Costello is good at hockey. He’s one of those players who has seemed to find a home in the ECHL and can dominate at this level. But he’s continued to do so. He’s well on his way to his third straight 100-point season. But Allen is very deep and talented around him, and again appears to be a contender for its third straight Kelly Cup.
  2. The Fuel were 1-for-7 with the man advantage, gaining four power plays in a penalty-filled first period, including a double-minor to Spencer Asuchak for high-sticking. After getting a power play goal early in the third and a late power play, it almost seemed inevitable the Americans would get a late PP.
  3. The Fuel have turned around their early-season offensive struggles – they had a November-December stretch where they scored two or fewer goals 10 times in an 11-game span. Since then, they have scored at least three goals in three straight games and six of their last eight, and they’ve gone 1-5-0 in those games. This was another game in which they deserved better, especially battling back from an early deficit to take a third-period lead. The Fuel are capable of putting strong offense with strong defensive efforts – which we saw often in their six-game winning streak in November that preceded this stretch.
  4. Matt Rupert is a player who does a lot of the little things well – a solid three-zone winger who plays multiple roles. This marked his first two-goal game of the season, and his third multi-point game. He has points in five of his last seven games. It was the second two-goal game of his ECHL career – the first came Nov. 12, 2015, playing for the Orlando Solar Bears against Idaho.
  5. Patrick D’Amico is another player who is a solid three-zone player for the Fuel, often centering Rupert’s line. He tallied his fourth goal of the season to get the Fuel on the board, and was yet another big response goal for the team.
  6. Chris Williams answered the bell right away – dropping the gloves with Allen’s Derek Mathers 50 seconds after the drop of the puck. Williams won a bout with Dyson Stevenson on Saturday night, and picked up his eighth fighting major of the season.
  7. Alex Guptill had an assist on Rupert’s first goal. He now has points in three straight games, as well as six of his last eight. He has 10 points in 12 games with the Fuel. Teammate Tristan King, who like Guptill came to the Fuel from Allen, picked up his third point in three games with an assist.
  8. Kevin Lynch had the assist on Rupert’s power play goal. He has points in six of his last seven games. Lynch also had seven shots and had a great scoring chance late in the second.
  9. Alex Wideman had two assists, snapping a three-game scoreless streak. It was his ninth multi-point game of the season. Wideman leads the Fuel with 12 goals and 15 assists in 34 games.
  10. Three different Fuel players had five shots – Lynch (7), Rupert (5) and Josh Shalla (5).
  11. Indy is now 0-3-0 against Allen this season. The teams have three meetings left, the next coming Feb. 15 and 17 in Allen.
  12. This contest marked the debut of Fuel rookie Nick Betz. He was on the ice for D’Amico’s goal and was a +1 on the day.

Lineup

Based on the gamesheet

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

Brandon Martell-Jonathan Carlsson
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic
Nick Grasso-Robin Press

Eric Levine
BU: Jake Hildebrand

Scratches: Collin MacDonald, Matt Stanisz (res), Brady Ramsay (res), Raphael Corriveau (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)

Next up: The four-game trip continues with games Tuesday in Wichita and Friday in Quad City. Both are at 8:05 p.m. Saturday, the Fuel return home for a 7:35 p.m. face-off with Tulsa.