The Indy Fuel had one of their best starts of the season Friday night in Fort Wayne, stunning the home crowd with three goals in the first five minutes.
But the Komets took advantage of 11 power plays – including five in the third period to rally and beat the Fuel 5-4 in overtime.
Colin Mulvey – who had been Fuel property earlier in the week – scored 1:28 into overtime to give the Komets the victory. Trevor Cheek scored on a power play with 33 seconds left. It came with the goaltender pulled in a 4-on-3 situation, giving the hosts a two-man advantage.
Mulvey had been acquired by the Fuel from Cincinnati last week, but failed to report, and was traded to Idaho. The Steelheads then traded he and Travis Ewanyk – who had the assist on the overtime winner – to Fort Wayne. Both made their debuts with the team.
The Fuel gained a standings point for the first time in five meetings with Fort Wayne, snapping a three-game skid. In three of the last four meetings, Indy has had strong starts and has built a third-period lead, only to see Fort Wayne rally.
Friday marked the first game for Chris DeSousa in a Fuel sweater this season. It also marked the Fuel debuts for forward Kenny Ryan and defenseman Brad Denney.
The Fuel built a 3-0 lead five minutes into the game, with Josh Shalla scoring on an end-to-end rush 2:47 in to put the Fuel on the board. Cason Hohmann fed Alex Wideman for a goal 28 seconds later, and Tyler Barnes made it a three-goal lead at 4:56. That chased Fort Wayne starter Pat Nagle, who allowed goals on three of the six shots he saw.
But Fort Wayne’s potent power play had several opportunities and took advantage. Back-to-back penalties gave the Komets an extended 5-on-3, and Jason Binkley scored on it to cut the lead to 3-1 after one. In the second, Fort Wayne outshot the Fuel 21-9 and cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal by Jamie Schaafsma at 13:44. After that, the Komets got six consecutive power plays – including four in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Fuel killed off the first five – including a penalty that bridged the second and third periods. Three seconds after Ryan Keller stepped out of the box serving a delay of game penalty, Bryn Chyzyk buried a shot on a 2-on-1 to give the Fuel a 4-2 edge.
Curtis Leonard scored at even strength with 10:20 to go to cut the lead to one, and Fort Wayne had an opportunity to tie it up with a power play with 6:11 to go. The Fuel killed it, and it appeared Indy dodged a bullet when a Fort Wayne goal was waved off for goaltender interference.
Another penalty with 2:18 left gave the Komets another PP. It was erased by a penalty to Mike Embach, but Brandon Martell was called for hooking with 1:09 to go, giving the Komets a 4-on-3. They pulled goaltender Garrett Bartus for the extra attacker, and Cheek scored with the two-man advantage. Fort Wayne then had another brief power play in overtime as Embach’s penalty expired 30 seconds before Martell’s in the opening minute. Mulvey’s goal came 30 seconds after the teams were at even strength.
Friday was the Fuel’s final visit to Fort Wayne this season. The two teams will meet again on Feb. 24 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel are back in action Saturday at Kalamazoo. They return home Sunday to face Brampton at 3:05 p.m.
- Colin Mulvey (FW) GWG
- Kyle Thomas (FW) 3A
- Jason Binkley (FW) G/A
- There’s a silver lining in grabbing a point and playing a strong first period. The Fuel were 33 seconds away from coming away with two points and a big regulation victory in Fort Wayne. This kind of effort should begin paying off in a big run for the Fuel, who have been close to grabbing a signature win on multiple occasions – and in back-to-back games against Fort Wayne.
- Newcomer Brad Denney becomes the second Hoosier to play for the Fuel. Indianapolis native Jordan Tibbett played a game in goal for the team in the 2014-15 season.
- The 11 power plays allowed were a season high. The Fuel had just two power plays in the game, one of which was a shortened man advantage.
- The Fuel played with a reshuffled blueline, without their top defensive pair from throughout the season. Nick Mattson missed his fourth straight game after suffering an injury. Jonathan Carlsson was released from his AHL contract with Rockford and is likely headed to play in Europe. The Fuel signed Fishers native Brad Denney, who had played in the Federal Hockey League, to round out the defensive corps and dressed five defensemen.
- Chris DeSousa became the only player to wear a Fuel sweater in all three of the team’s seasons. He made his season debut with the team – he had been in the AHL with Rockford all season – and had an assist on Barnes’ goal.
- Josh Shalla has saved his best for Fort Wayne. The forward now has six goals and two assists in five games against the Komets with the Fuel this season. He has tallied a point on every matchup – one of those came while playing with Wheeling, the other four with the Fuel. Shalla’s goal extended his points streak to three games.
- Speaking of streaks, Tyler Barnes now has goals in three straight games since joining the Fuel. He has played seven ECHL games this season, and tallied points in five of them. Alex Wideman now has points in four of his last five games – with three goals and three assists in that span. Cason Hohmann has points in two straight games, three of his last four and six of his last eight. He had the assist on Wideman’s goal. Brandon Martell had the primary assist on Barnes’ goal and has points in back-to-back games.
- Bryn Chyzyk’s goal was his first since Jan. 21 – a span of seven games – and he also has points in back-to-back games. He was seconds shy of tallying the Fuel’s third shorthanded goal of the season.
- Jake Hildebrand set a season high with 54 saves in the contest. The Fuel faced a season-high 59 shots, and were outshot 59-26. Mike Embach and Colin Mulvey had eight shots each for Fort Wayne. Josh Shalla led the Fuel with four shots.
Josh Shalla-Chris DeS0usa-Tyler Barnes
Alex Wideman-Cason Hohmann-Kenny Ryan
Ryan Keller-Nick Bligh-Bryn Chyzyk
Matt Rupert-Raphael Corriveau
Brandon Martell-Adam Phillips
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic
BU: Eric Levine
Scratches: Nick Mattson, Paul Zanette (res), Brady Ramsay (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)
Roster moves: Jonathan Carlsson was released from his AHL contract with Rockford on Friday. Brad Denney was signed.
Next up: The Fuel travel to Kalamazoo for a Saturday contest, then return home to face Brampton at 3:05 p.m. Sunday. After that, the Fuel will go on a three-game roadtrip to Allen and Tulsa. Kalamazoo has won six of its last eight games, but was shut out 4-0 at Quad City Friday night. Brampton has won four straight, having beaten Toledo 3-1 on Friday. The Beast will play at Toledo Saturday.