Game 72: Fuel at Toledo

The regular season finale matched an Indy Fuel team that had been playing well looking to finish the year strong against a Toledo Walleye squad with the ECHL regular season title on the line at home.

Toledo wasted little time seizing the Brabham Cup, scoring four times in the first period to beating the Fuel 10-0 Saturday night at the Huntington Center.

Dane Walters scored five goals and had an assist for Toledo, which capped off a season that featured a number of explosive performances with another, while the Walleye built momentum headed into the playoffs. Simon Denis and old friend Shane Berschbach had four assists each.

For the Fuel, they finish the season 23-42-7 and in sixth place in the ECHL’s North Division.

The final contest was not indicative of the Fuel’s final month, a span in which Indy went 8-5-2 in a stretch in which every game but one was against a playoff team, including three games each against Fort Wayne and Toledo. The Fuel had victories against both teams in that stretch.

They had hoped to build off a strong home performance Friday in a 3-2 loss, but having the Brabham Cup on the line was certainly a motivator for the talented, deep Walleye squad, which had several members of the All-ECHL and All-Rookie teams announced this week.

Toledo got started 70 seconds in, when Beau Schmitz scored from Berschbach and Denis. But the game broke open in a three-goal flurry in less than four minutes later in the period. Berschbach and Denis set up Walters’ first goal at 11:22. Alex Globke scored his second goal in as many nights on the power play less than three minutes later, and Evan Rankin followed at 15:17 with his 28th goal of the season.

In the second, Walters scored four times – at 4:13, 10:09, 14:17 and 17:41, the last a shorthanded goal – to give the Walleye an 8-0 lead.

Jake Hildebrand took the Fuel net for the third period. Tylor Spink scored on the period’s opening shift 24 seconds in, and J.P. LaFontaine scored later to give the Walleye a double-digit lead. Hildebrand stopped eight shots in the third period in relief of Eric Levine, who made 27 saves in the first two periods. Jake Paterson stopped 24 shots for the Toledo shutout.

Boxscore

3 stars

  1. Dane Walters (TOL) 5G/A, 9 shots, +6
  2. Shane Berschbach (TOL) 4A, +4
  3. Simon Denis (TOL) 4A, +4

Takeaways

  1. This is one that you file away and forget about, The last game of the season often produces some unusual results in all leagues and at all levels, especially with teams in their final game playing those which have something to play for. It was one of two 10-0 games in the ECHL Saturday night – Florida also beat Orlando by the same score. It marked the first game in Fuel history the team allowed 10 goals. Toledo proved throughout the year it’s the best team in the league and can come at you in waves. The last two meetings, the Fuel matched that, winning one 4-1 last week in the Huntington Center, and coming within a razor-thin margin 3-2 last night. Tip the cap to Toledo, wish them well in the postseason, and read nothing more into it than that.
  2. Prior to the game, the Walleye announced they will host the 2019 ECHL All-Star Game. The Fuel will host the 2018 version.
  3. The five goals and six points for Dane Walters were the most by a Fuel opponent.
  4. Saturday marked Toledo goaltender Jake Paterson’s seventh shutout of the season. He was named the ECHL’s Second-Team All-Star goaltender earlier this week. It was the first shutout of the Fuel since Feb. 17 in Allen. It was the fourth shutout against this year.
  5. The four-assist game from Berschbach gives him 86 points. The former Indiana Ice forward will likely finish the year third in scoring in the ECHL.
  6. Kenton Helgesen was the Fuel’s top player in +/-, with an even rating. Alex Wideman, fresh off setting the team’s single-season scoring record, led the team with three shots.
  7. Fuel team leaders for 2016-17: Alex Wideman leads in points with a team-record 55, one more than Alex Lavoie posted in 2015-16. Wideman and Josh Shalla each tie for the team lead with 22 goals. Matt Rupert was one back with 21. Wideman leads the team in assists (33). Michael Neal and Chris Williams lead in +/- with a +4 rating – Neal did it in 21 games, Williams in 53. Williams also led the team with 128 penalty minutes. Shalla and Nick Bligh led the team with five PP goals each. Neal led the team with two shorthanded goals – both coming in the same period against Allen. Jake Hildebrand led the team with 18 wins, a Fuel record, and a 3.75 GAA. He also had a Fuel-record four shutouts. Matt Rupert was the lone player to play in all 72 games.

Lineup

Josh Shalla-Kenny Ryan-Woody Hudson
Alex Wideman-Paul Zanette-Kenton Helgesen
Matt Rupert-Jake Marchment-Nick Bligh
Austin Hervey

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

Eric Levine
Jake Hildebrand

Scratches: Travis Armstrong, Michael Neal, Filip Rydstrom, Bryn Chyzyk (IR)

Next up: The Fuel will begin the 2017-18 season in October.