Game 54: Fuel at Cincinnati

The Indy Fuel furiously rallied in the third period Saturday night, but it fell just short in a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones in front of 9,093 at U.S. Bank Arena.

Indy fell behind early and twice cut the deficit to one. When Travis Armstrong brought Indy within a goal with 7:58 left, the Fuel put themselves in a position to complete the rally. Indy drew a late power play on a hooking minor to Jordan Sims and generated a prime chance on a feed to Josh Shalla in the slot. He beat Cincinnati’s Michael Houser clean, but the puck hit the goalpost and careened away from the net.

It was an unfortunate result for the Fuel, who bounced back from a 5-1 loss at home on Friday to put forth a solid road effort in front of a raucous and large crowd.

Eric Levine stopped 33 shots in the Fuel net, including 16 in the second period.

Cincy led 1-0 after a period, taking advantage of an intercepted pass that led to a Tommy Mele goal six and a half minutes in. The Cyclones pushed their lead to 2-0 in the second, shortly after a Fuel power play ended, as Justin MacDonald scored off a faceoff. But Indy battled back, with Tyler Barnes ripping a shot with 7:20 to go in the period to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The Fuel killed a penalty to Zach Miskovic that bridged the second and third periods, but Frank Misuraca scored with 13:20 to go to restore Cincy’s two-goal edge before Armstrong answered with his first goal of the season and first in a Fuel sweater.

Indy completes a three-game weekend Sunday with a trip to Toledo. The Fuel return home March 3 to face the Wheeling Nailers.

Boxscore

Three stars

  1. Frank Misuraca (CIN) GWG
  2. Justin MacDonald (CIN) G
  3. Michael Houser (CIN) 21 saves

Takeaways

  1. Eric Levine again turned in a solid performance. He wasn’t able to get the win, and has had some hard luck in his starts this season. He got a victory in his last start, dropped a razor-thin game tonight. He has stopped 85 of 90 shots in his last two starts.
  2. The Fuel got offensive production from familiar faces – Tyler Barnes and Alex Wideman. Barnes has 15 points in 14 ECHL games this season, and has tallied points in eight of the 10 games he’s played since re-joining the Fuel on Feb. 3. Wideman had two assists, his 25th and 26th of the season. It was his 14th multi-point game of the season.
  3. The Fuel also got offensive production from some unfamiliar ones. Defenseman Travis Armstrong, playing his fifth game with the Fuel, scored his first goal in an Indy uniform. After going scoreless in his first 15 games this season, playing for four different teams, he now has points in two of his last three. Another newcomer, Nick Grasso, had an assist in his first game back with the Fuel. Paul Zanette had the Fuel’s other assist in his second game back from injury. Zanette was also +2.
  4. Grasso was the new face in the lineup. He was signed by the Fuel in December, was claimed by Quad City after three games, and the Fuel claimed him off waivers Friday. He slotted into the lineup and had an assist and a +1 rating.
  5. The Fuel are now 4-7-0 against Cincinnati this season, and went 1-5-0 at Cincinnati. The two teams have one game remaining in their 12-game series this season, April 2 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, where the Fuel are 3-2-0 against the Cyclones.

Lineup

Alex Wideman-Paul Zanette-Tyler Barnes
Josh Shalla-Kenny Ryan-Raphael Corriveau
Matt Rupert-Nick Bligh-Michael Neal
Brady Ramsay

Brandon Martell-Zach Miskovic
Travis Armstrong-Adam Phillips
Nick Mattson-Nick Grasso

Eric Levine
BU: Jake Hildebrand

Scratches: Ryan Keller, Chris Williams (res), Bryn Chyzyk (IR)

Roster moves: The Fuel activated Nick Grasso, who had earlier been claimed off waivers, and placed defenseman Chris Williams on reserve.

Next up: The Fuel visit Toledo for a 5:15 p.m. Sunday tilt. The next home game will be March 3 against Wheeling. Toledo, which leads the Midwest Division, beat Wheeling 4-3 in OT Saturday night. Toledo has won six straight.