Early in the first period, Kalamazoo’s Lane Scheidl corralled a cross-ice pass and fired to a gaping net. But the red light never came on because Eric Levine had reached across with a glove save.
Levine’s heroics continued throughout the night. But after being frustrated multiple times by the Fuel netminder, Scheidl was able to take a carom off the back boards and find an opening to break the ice early in the second.
That was the start for Kalamazoo, as Scheidl assisted on a second-period goal and scored shorthanded in the third, leading a 5-1 victory over the Indy Fuel Saturday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
It came despite a heroic effort from Levine in the Fuel net, whose 40 saves included a number that could fill the ECHL’s Plays of the Week reel.
“Viner held us in there. He had a heck of a game,” Fuel forward Jake Marchment said.
“He was unbelievable. I don’t know if the goalies have had a bad games since I’ve been here, between him and Hildy. That game was a lot closer than the score showed, and he was the main reason for that.”
Marchment, playing his fifth game with the Fuel after being assigned to Indy by the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, scored his second goal in as many nights in the third period to cut the Fuel deficit to 3-1, but Kalamazoo scored an empty-netter, and then added a goal 15 seconds later to extend its lead.
Marchment’s line produced offense for the Fuel – he and Kenton Helgesen combined for 14 of the Fuel’s 33 shots on Kalamazoo netminder Joel Martin, with Marchment landing nine. He found the back of the net with 7:17 to go, when Nick Bligh fed Helgesen off the rush. Marchment drove the net and powered a rebound into an open side.
“We had a pretty good D-zone shift off that faceoff,” Marchment said. “They were cycling it, we were staying with their men. We got a good breakout, Bligh made a good cross-ice pass to Helgy, I managed to get there before their defensemen.”
Fuel coach Bernie John was frustrated with his team’s forecheck and defensive zone play, noting a desire to see more hitting than stick-checking in the defensive zone and a more aggressive forecheck, and said those who play a strong defensive zone game will be in the lineup.
“This was their third game in four days and they looked like the fresher team,” John said. “We had a big win last night, I think we should build off that. We should’ve been the better team in the first period. We keep reiterating that. But some guys are going to find out the hard way.”
The Fuel added three new rookies to the lineup this week who were all matriculating from their college careers. Forward Shawn Hulshof had an assist on Friday in his debut. In Saturday’s game, former Indiana Ice captain Woody Hudson and defenseman Jack Burton both made their pro debuts.
The full roster creates lineup flexibility and competition for spots in the lineup both for the remainder of this season, but also allows players to audition for spots in the future.
“My goal is to make sure we’re building for next year, but also that the guys who are working hard and playing hard for the fans are playing,” John said.
Hudson made a big impression and threw his weight around often. As the game went on, he continued to see his ice time increase.
“I thought Woody was great,” John said. “He was in on the forecheck, he finished his hits. He was a guy who didn’t stop moving his feet.”
The Fuel entered the third period trailing 2-0. Levine made 20 saves in the opening period to keep the game scoreless. Scheidl put the Wings up a goal 6:51 into the second after a shoot-in caromed off the end boards onto his stick on the weak side, and he was able to bury the shot. Later in the period, he fed Cameron Darcy for a goal to make it 2-0.
The Fuel had a solid push to start the third, with Michael Neal just missing the corner on a three-man rush a minute in, and being stopped after a steal five minutes later. The push led to back-to-back power plays, but Scheidl found the net on a 2-on-1 rush with a shorthanded goal that put Indy in a three-goal hole.
“They outplayed us the first 20 pretty bad,” Marchment said. “I don’t know if it was the travel last night or if we just weren’t ready to go. I thought we had a bounce back in the third. We came out strong, we were only two behind. That shorthanded goal hurt us. We clawed back into it. Mistakes tonight and a couple of lost battles, I think we were right there with them for 40 at least.”
The Fuel are back in action at 3:05 p.m. Sunday against a Quad City team that will also be playing its third game in three days. John is hoping for a renewed effort – beginning with a strong forecheck.
“Do your job, D get pucks going north, forwards be available and get pucks deep,” he said of what he’s looking for Sunday. “The first period (Saturday), we had no forecheck. We need to go in and create some havoc like their guys. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go. We’re at home, we need to set a precedent.”
- Lane Scheidl (KAL) 2G/A, 10 shots, +3
- Joel Martin (KAL) 32 saves
- Jake Marchment (Fuel) G, 9 shots
- John said Woody Hudson was excited to make his pro debut, coming six days after playing his final collegiate game at St. Lawrence. Hudson quickly showed the heavy-hitting style that made him a favorite in Indy over two seasons with the Ice as a junior player, and had a good scoring chance in the first with a turnaround shot in the slot that whizzed just wide. “He had some opportunities tonight,” John said. “I liked his game. I knew what I was getting when I brought him in. I was getting a hard-working guy that always battles hard and to the net and tries to do good things.”
- Another player who made his pro debut was defenseman Jack Burton. He recently finished his career at Div. III Colby College, and broke up a potential first-period breakaway by Cameron Darcy with a strong backcheck. He also had solid play in his own zone to prevent shots from getting through. “I like him,” John said. “He’s got good size. He’s got a good shot, got pucks to the net, he was simple with the puck.”
- Lane Scheidl had a monster game with two goals, an assist and 10 shots on goal. He was flat-out robbed by Levine at least twice on a cross-ice pass with an open side and on a wraparound attempt – the second of which he held his stick over his head and looked up in frustration. Levine also shut down two point-blank shots in tight early in the third.
- Jake Marchment has goals in back-to-back games, his first two tallies with the Fuel. He has taken advantage of getting a lot of ice time in Indy while developing chemistry with the forwards he centers. “All 10 forwards are good players, no matter who’s in the lineup,” Marchment said. “The guys have all been great so far. Bernie’s been great with helping me out, getting the systems going. I’m playing a lot here. I’m just trying to reward him for putting me out there and trying to help the boys in any way I can.”
- The game saw old friends Peter Schneider – who played for the Fuel in each of the team’s first two seasons – and Eric Kattelus suit up for Kalamazoo. Each had an assist. The two were also among the six former Indiana Ice players on the ice – Hudson, Alex Wideman, Nick Mattson and Adam Phillips all have returned to Indy as professionals and were in Saturday’s lineup.
- Paul Zanette returned to the lineup for the first time in six games and landed five shots to help pace the Fuel’s offense.
- The Fuel and Wings finished their season series having split four meetings.
- Indy was 0-for-2 on the power play. Kalamazoo was 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
Josh Shalla-Kenny Ryan-Nick Bligh
Kenton Helgesen-Jake Marchment-Alex Wideman
Paul Zanette-Michael Neal-Matt Rupert
Nick Mattson-Troy Vance
Brandon Martell-Robin Press
Jack Burton-Adam Phillips
BU: Jake Hildebrand
Scratches: Travis Armstrong, Brady Ramsay, Shawn Hulshof (res), Zach Miskovic (res), Chris Williams (IR), Bryn Chyzyk (IR)
Roster moves: Prior to the game, Shawn Hulshof was placed on reserve and Paul Zanette was activated from reserve. Woody Hudson and Jack Burton were both signed on Saturday, Hudson to an ECHL standard players contract and Burton to an amateur tryout offer.
Next up: The Fuel host Quad City at 3:05 p.m. Sunday before embarking on a four-game roadtrip. The next home game after Sunday’s tilt will be April 1.