Fuel eliminated after double overtime loss to Walleye
Wideman, Noel score while Marcoux stops 56 in season-ending defeatApr 20, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS – Toledo center Christian Hilbrich fired his series and league-high fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:46 of the second overtime period to defeat the Indy Fuel Thursday night at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, 3-2. With the win, the Walleye completed a four-games’ sweep of the Western Conference Central Division best-of-7 semi-finals series, 4(4-0-0).
Once again, as they have done throughout every game in this series, the Fuel were gallant and valiant, battling fiercely until the bitter end. For a second consecutive night on home ice the Fuel opened the game’s scoring with an early opening period strike. Left wing Alex Wideman stashed a Garrett Clark shot from the top of the slot at the 4:32 mark to stake Indy to a 1-0 advantage. It was the Fuel’s eighth goal in the series with Wideman becoming the eighth different Fuel player to connect.
However, as they have done throughout the series as well, Toledo rallied to the cause as defenseman Simon Denis uncorked a screen shot straightaway from center point to knot matters for the visitors at 1-1 at the first intermission.
Afflicted with a rash of penalties in the second period, the Fuel fell behind for the first time when Toledo, operating with its seventh consecutive man advantage, gained the lead when Austen Brassard redirected a Patrick McCarron shot originating from the right point at the 15:38 mark with a mere seven seconds remaining in the Walleye’s seventh straight power play.
Toledo nursed its precarious 2-1 lead to the 9:45 mark of period three when center Nathan Noel became Indy’s first and only two-goal artisan in this series as he crowded the crease and jammed home Wideman centering pass that the latter flung from deep in the offensive left wing corner. Tying the contest at 2-2, the Fuel stayed with the Walleye through the remainder of regulation as well as the first overtime with both All-Star goaltenders Toledo’s Pat Nagle and the Fuel’s Rookie of the Year “ET” Marcoux majestic in protecting their respective creases.
In the second overtime, however, the Toledoans found yet another way to solve the men of the Fuel. Set up by linemate Kyle Bonis, Hilbrich delivered the ultimate game winning goal on a shot he snapped from the left circle, ripping it past Marcoux.
Toledo outshot the Fuel, 59-45 with Nagle posting his 11th straight win in as many decisions against Indy this season while Marcoux absorbed an almost unjust defeat despite a magnificent 56-saves performance.
The Fuel power play was 0-4 and 2-17 in the series. Toledo’s power play was 1-9 and 3-17 overall in this series.
The Fuel complete their best season in the club’s four-year history, attaining a coveted Kelly Cup Playoffs’ berth for the first time. As for Toledo, the Walleye advance to the best-of-7 Central Division Finals against the winner of the Fort Wayne/Cincinnati divisional semi-final.
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