The Indy Fuel’s first trip outside Indiana in three weeks saw them having to battle back from a tough start in Cincinnati, as they fell 5-2 to the host Cyclones at U.S. Bank Arena.
Cincinnati scored four goals in the opening 11:48, beginning with a tally from Dylan Nowakowski at 4:51, followed by three goals in a 3:31 span.
Tyler Barnes and Adam Phillips tallied third-period goals for the Fuel, who saw a minor mid-week roster retooling.
The Fuel dominated the opening period in terms of puck possession and shots – setting a season high with 19 shots. But Cincinnati was able to score on four of its 10 missives, while the Cyclones’ Michael Houser stopped all 19 Fuel attempts in the first period, and made 39 saves in the game.
Nowakowski scored on a deflection in front to put his team ahead, and then got an early power play. Seconds after the Fuel killed it, Shane Walsh found the net on a feed from Nowakowski. Seth Ambroz scored less than a minute later, and Brandon McNally pushed the lead to four.
The Fuel dominated the second period, with a 14-5 shot edge and earning three power plays, but Houser came up big time and time again to deny the Fuel a comeback opportunity.
Indy got on the board in the third, as Josh Shalla fed Tyler Barnes with a centering pass, and the former ECHL Rookie of the Year buried the shot. Barnes was making his debut in his third stint with the Fuel this season. Jonathan Diaby answered for Cincinnati 14 seconds later with an unassisted goal.
Adam Phillips scored his second goal of the year with a blast from the point on the power play late in the third to cut the margin to 5-2.
Indy outshot Cincy 41-22 in the contest and improved as the game went on, but will look to split the weekend Saturday night. The Fuel host Fort Wayne at 7:35 p.m. on Scout Night.
- Michael Houser (CIN) 39sv
- Dylan Nowakowski (CIN) G/A
- Shane Walsh (CIN) G/A
- The return of Evan Mosey and Tyler Barnes to the lineup, both coming back from Rockford, was a big boost to the Fuel. Barnes skated with Bryn Chyzyk and Josh Shalla, and the talented crew combined for 11 shots in the game and numerous scoring chances. While they combined on one goal, that had a lot to do with how good Michael Houser was on this night.
- Barnes has now played five ECHL games this season in three stints. He has two goals and six assists in those contests. He was playing his first game with the Fuel since Dec. 10.
- Forward Cason Hohmann has been in a Fuel sweater for three games, and has tallied points in two of them. He had the primary assist to set up Phillips for the Fuel’s power play goal in the third. Counting his last three games with Atlanta before he was traded to the Fuel, he has points in five of his last six games.
- Phillips’ goal was his first since Nov. 12, when he scored while playing for the Norfolk Admirals. It was his second tally of the year. Phillips has a nose for the net – the 6-foot-7 blueliner is coming off back-to-back nine-goal seasons
- The game marked the Fuel debut for forward Nick Bligh, who was acquired in a trade from Adirondack earlier in the week. The rookie from Dartmouth had one shot in the contest.
- Blueliner Nick Mattson was unavailable for the second straight game after suffering a minor injury last Saturday. He and Brady Ramsay were both placed on the reserve list before the game.
- The Fuel are now 4-6-0 against Cincinnati this season. They have two meetings remaining – the next coming Feb. 25 at the Cyclones’ U.S. Bank Arena.
- Indy was 1-for-4 on the power play. Cincinnati was 0-for-3.
Bryn Chyzyk-Josh Shalla-Tyler Barnes
Alex Wideman-Evan Mosey-Cason Hohmann
Ryan Keller-Raphael Corriveau-Matt Rupert
Jonathan Carlsson-Robin Press
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic
Brandon Martell-Adam Phillips
BU: Eric Levine
Scratches: Paul Zanette, Brady Ramsay (res), Nick Mattson (res), Cody Sharib (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host Fort Wayne at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. That will conclude this weekend, but Indy will have a 3-in-3 next weekend with trips to Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo on Friday and Saturday and a home game against Brampton on Sunday, Feb. 12.