Game 64: Fuel at Greenville

The Indy Fuel played tremendous hockey in the first two periods in jumping out to a two-goal lead in Greenville.

But the host Swamp Rabbits were able to rally with three goals in the final 10:15 to beat the Fuel 5-4 Friday in the BonSecours Wellness Center.

Alex Wideman scored twice – hitting the 20-goal mark – and added an assist in the opening two periods as the Fuel built a 4-2 edge. In the third, Fuel goaltender Jake Hildebrand made a couple of early saves, but the Swamp Rabbits drew closer on a goal by Matt Prapavessis with 10:15 to go. Less than two minutes later, Spiro Goulakos buried a one-timer to even th game.

With 2:42 left, Bretton Cameron scored his 20th of the season, which became the winner and finished the Swamp Rabbits rally.

Hildebrand made 33 saves in the Fuel net. The Fuel buried four of their 24 shots on Jeff Malcolm’s net.

Greenville got an early goal from Matt Johnson just 70 seconds in, but the Fuel were resilient, as Wideman potted a rebound after Malcolm stopped Kenton Helgesen’s shot just 1:27 later.

Hildebrand made 13 saves in the opening period – including those on two Greenville power plays – to keep the game tied 1-1.

Late in the period, the Fuel drew a power play and took advantage to start the second, as Matt Rupert camped out at the edge of the crease and beat Malcolm just 1:41 into the period. It was Rupert’s 18th goal of the year as he closes in on becoming the third Fuel player with 20 goals this season.

Brandon Alderson tied the game shortly thereafter, but the Fuel pounced midway through the second. Wideman broke the tie with a shot from the high slot with 9:20 left in the period, and just over three minutes later, Robin Press blasted a shot from the point to give Indy a 4-2 edge.

The same two teams play again Saturday evening in Greenville in the middle of a three-game weekend for the Fuel.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Bretton Cameron (GRN) GWG/A
  2. Alex Wideman (Fuel) 2G/A
  3. Spiro Goulakos (GRN) G/A

Takeaways

  1. Indy has had a strong offensive push late in the season. Friday marked the fifth time in eight games the Fuel have scored at least three goals. Indy is 3-2-0 in those contests. The Fuel are 9-5-2 when scoring at least four goals in a game this season.
  2. Alex Wideman became the first person to hit the 20-goal mark in a Fuel sweater this season, and the second in team history to do so – joining Garett Bembridge, who tallied 25 goals with the Fuel in 2014-15. Two other players – Josh Shalla (19) and Matt Rupert (18) are closing in on the 20-goal plateau in a Fuel sweater. Shalla has 29 total goals this season, scoring the first 10 while playing with Wheeling. Wideman also has 52 points, tying Bembridge for the second-most points in a season. Alex Lavoie holds the team record with 54 points, set in 2015-16.
  3. Indy has struggled at times in the third period as teams throw the kitchen sink at the net to rally. The Fuel have been outscored 17-7 in the third period of their last eight games and have a minus-43 goal differential in the third this season. The Fuel hold a 13-4-2 record when taking a lead into the third period.
  4. Wideman’s three-point game was his third three-point and third two-goal game of the year. It was his 17th multi-point game of the year.
  5. Paul Zanette also had two assists against his former team and has back-to-back two-point games, giving Indy an offensive boost since returning from injury three games ago.
  6. Matt Rupert has had a hot stick of late, with four goals and two assists in his last seven games. He has goals in three of his last four games. With 18 goals, he is also closing in on the 20-goal mark. He also led the Fuel with four shots on goal.
  7. Speaking of players with hot sticks, Kenton Helgesen has hit the scoresheet in seven of the nine games he has played since being acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade deadline deal and assigned to the Fuel. He has a goal and eight assists with Indy, and has an active three-game scoring streak.
  8. Press’ goal was his first ECHL tally since Dec. 20 – although there was an extended callup to the AHL in-between his stints with the Fuel.
  9. Indy’s power play hasn’t had a lot of practice – tonight was just the fourth power play in the last five games – but the Fuel were able to cash in with Rupert’s goal on their only man advantage. Indy hasn’t deployed the penalty killing unit much in that stretch, either, as  the team has played clean games in recent days.

Lineup (based on the gamesheet)

Alex Wideman-Paul Zanette-Kenton Helgesen
Josh Shalla-Kenny Ryan-Woody Hudson
Matt Rupert-Michael Neal-Nick Bligh

Nick Mattson-Troy Vance
Zach Miskovic-Robin Press
Brandon Martell-Adam Phillips
Chris Williams

Jake Hildebrand
BU: Eric Levine

Scratches: Jack Burton, Shawn Hulshof,Travis Armstrong (res), Jake Marchment (res), Bryn Chyzyk (IR)

Roster moves: Prior to the game, Jake Marchment and Travis Armstrong were placed on reserve, while Robin Press and Adam Phillips were activated from reserve.

Next up: The Fuel and Greenville play again at 7 p.m. Saturday in Greenville. The three-game weekend continues with a Sunday game at the South Carolina Stingrays at 3:05 p.m. The next home game for the Fuel is April 1 against Fort Wayne.