The only regular season meeting between the Indy Fuel and their Central Division rivals Wichita Thunder had all the feel of a division game between two desperate teams.
Both were looking to build some positive momentum and get a division win, leading to a close, tight-checking game that came down to one shot.
It came off the stick of the Fuel’s Jonathan Carlsson, whose shot with 7:14 left gave the Fuel the only goal in a 1-0 victory in Wichita.
Carlsson was pinching low on a Fuel rush, found the puck in a crowd on the doorstep and rammed it past Wichita’s Drew Ousley for the lone tally. Josh Shalla and Fuel leading scorer Alex Wideman had the assists.
Jake Hildebrand made 28 saves for his second shutout of the season.
The Fuel’s penalty kill had to be stellar down the stretch, stymying two Wichita power plays in the third, including one that began with 3:52 left and the Fuel nursing a 1-0 lead.
The game was the second 1-0 game in Fuel history – both victories. The first was Jan. 19, 2015, when Mac Carruth backstopped a 1-0 win at Gwinnett (now Atlanta).
The opening period saw 23 shots between the two teams, but few solid chances. In the second, Matt Rupert hit the post on the Fuel’s best chance.
The third featured two power plays for each team, but Carlsson’s tally was the lone goal.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and an 11-game road winless streak for the Fuel, whose four-game roadtrip concludes Friday at Quad City. The Fuel return home to face Tulsa at 7:35 p.m. Thursday, the first of eight home games in a 10-game stretch.
- Jake Hildebrand (Fuel) 28 saves, SHO
- Jonathan Carlsson (Fuel) GWG
- Drew Ousley (WIC) 31 saves, 1 GA
- The Fuel have played a number of high-scoring games of late, but the attention to defensive detail was clear as Wichita had few top-grade scoring chances and Hildebrand was on when he had to face them.
- Hildebrand has tied Shane Owen for the second-most shutouts in Fuel history with two. Mac Carruth has four shutouts. This marked the eighth shutout in the team’s three-year history.
- Carlsson now has two goals and 10 assists to lead the Fuel blueliners. This one came from the crease – the veteran pinching down and getting to the goalmouth with the Wichita defense compromised. He was able to find the puck and an open spot, a veteran move by a veteran player. It was his first goal since Nov. 20 against Atlanta.
- Wideman’s assist gave him three in the last two games. Shalla has three points in the last three games. Wideman now has 12 goals and 16 assists to lead the team. Shalla 16 goals and 10 assists overall (6 and 2 with the Fuel in 11 games).
- One of the fun storylines in this game was the matchup between twin brothers Matt and Ryan Rupert. Ryan had two shots and a penalty for the Thunder. Matt had five shots on goal for the Fuel.
- This was the lone meeting between the two teams this season.
Alex Wideman-Alex Guptill-Josh Shalla
Ryan Keller-Kevin Lynch-Tristan King
Bryn Chyzyk-Patrick D’Amico-Matt Rupert
Brandon Martell-Jonathan Carlsson
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic
Nick Grasso-Robin Press
BU: Eric Levine
Scratches: Nick Betz, Matt Stanisz (res), Brady Ramsay (res), Raphael Corriveau (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)
Next up: The Fuel visit Quad City at 8:05 p.m. Friday to begin a three-in-three weekend that will continue with a home game against Tulsa at 7:35 p.m. Saturday and a trip to Fort Wayne for a Sunday tilt.