Game 55: Fuel at Toledo

The Toledo Walleye have looked like one of the top contenders for the Kelly Cup all season. They’re deep and fast, and have two of the top scorers in the league in twins Tyson and Tylor Spink.

The Walleye flexed their gills Sunday with a strong start, scoring goals on their first three shots, to pull away to an 8-1 victory over the Indy Fuel at the Huntington Center.

Tyson Spink and old friend Shane Berschbach scored twice for the Walleye, who maintained an eight-point lead in the Midwest Division and lead the Brabham Cup race with 81 points. Spink added two assists for a four-point game. Tylor Spink had three assists.

The Fuel had an early chance to take a lead, as Toledo captain Jared Nightengale began the evening in a disagreeable mood, getting a minor for roughing and adding two more with a penalty for disputing the decision just 46 seconds into the game. Nightengale finished the night with 18 penalty minutes, taking four minor penalties – all of which gave the Fuel power plays. The latter two led to fights with Zach Miskovic and Brandon Martell.

That gave Indy a four-minute power play, but Toledo’s Alden Hirschfeld scored an unassisted goal halfway through the second minor on the Walleye’s first shot of the game. Dylan Sadowy and Mike Borkowski scored :46 apart on Toledo’s next two shots, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead and chasing Fuel starter Eric Levine.

Tyson Spink made it 4-0 later in the period with his 30th of the season – set up by the 39th assist from his twin brother Tylor. In the second, Spink and Berschbach scored 1:01 apart to give Toledo a 6-0 lead in the first three minutes.

The Fuel got on the scoreboard 29 seconds after the Berschbach goal, as Martell fired a shot from the point that Michael Neal deflected past Toledo netminder Jake Paterson. But Toledo would respond with tallies from Chris Leone late in the second and Berschbach in the final five minutes of the third.

Jake Hildebrand stopped 27 shots in relief for the Fuel. Paterson made 19 saves in the Toledo net.

The Fuel will look to snap a three-game skid Friday when they return home to face the Wheeling Nailers. That begins a stretch where the Fuel will play six of their next eight at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

Boxscore

Three stars

  1. Tyson Spink (TOL) 2G/2A
  2. Tylor Spink (TOL) 3A
  3. Shane Berschbach (TOL) 2G

Takeaways

  1. Michael Neal tallied his second goal in seven games for the Fuel. The veteran of more than 400 professional games has added leadership and a deft finishing ability with the deflection.
  2. The assists on Neal’s goal went to Brandon Martell – who has eight assists in 24 games with the Fuel – and Adam Phillips. In addition to having a cannon for a point shot, Phillips has a goal and five assists in 15 games in Indy.
  3. The Spink brothers are the ECHL’s top-scoring rookies and added to that total today. Tyson has 31 goals and 34 assists and is one goal shy of the ECHL lead, Tylor has 19 goals and 40 assists. He’s fifth in assists – Toledo’s Shane Berschbach (44) is third.
  4. Toledo has now won seven straight games, a streak that began with a 9-1 win over Cincinnati on Feb. 12. The Walleye have outscored foes 39-9 in that stretch, with wins of 9-1, 7-0 and 8-1 in that time.
  5. The eight goals allowed tied a Fuel record, also set Jan. 2, 2015 against Toledo (8-1) and twice in December 2016, 8-2 against Reading on Dec. 9 and 8-6 against Fort Wayne on Dec. 27. The seven-goal margin of defeat tied a record set in that Jan. 2, 2015 game against Toledo, as well as a Dec. 31, 2015 7-0 loss at Fort Wayne.
  6. Indy was 0-for-4 on the power play and killed off the lone Toledo power play.
  7. Jared Nightengale had an interesting day. He had 18 penalty minutes and was the only Walleye player to go to the box. His rap sheet – a roughing minor and unsportsmanlike conduct minor at :46 of the first period, the latter for disputing the decision. At 16:08 of the first, he was sent off for cross checking. Shortly after exiting the box, he got a minor for interference and fought Zach Miskovic. And, six minutes into the second period – seconds after exiting the penalty box serving his previous major, he fought Brandon Martell.
  8. Alex Wideman (5 shots) and Kenny Ryan (4 shots) led the Fuel offense. Indy had 20 shots on goal.

Lineup

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

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

Eric Levine
Jake Hildebrand

Scratches: Raphael Corriveau, Andrew Huckleby, Chris Williams (reserve), Bryn Chyzyk (IR)

Next up: The Fuel host Wheeling at 7:35 p.m. Friday night. On Saturday night, Indy travels to Quad City to complete a two-game weekend.