Fuel Rewind: December 1 vs. Quad City
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithDec 2, 2017
Trailing by a goal, the Indy Fuel had a “good chat” in the dressing room during the first intermission.
They converted it into action on the ice from there on out.
The chances came immediately as the Fuel camped out in the Quad City zone on the first shift and for much of the final two periods. Eventually, so did the goals in a 3-1 Fuel victory over the Quad City Mallards Friday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
“The first five, six minutes, we were a little bit sloppy, but after that, we dominated the game,” Fuel goaltender Etienne Marcoux said. “The last two periods, we were in on the forecheck, getting a lot of shots on the net, made some big saves and we found a way. That’s the most important thing.”
Ryan Rupert scored a power play goal and Brandon Anselmini broke a 1-all deadlock with the game-winner in the third. Etienne Marcoux stopped 29 shots for the victory in net.
Marcoux was good early and spectacular when he needed to be, making a number of post-to-post saves on cross-ice feeds early, but saving his best for last. With five minutes to go and the Fuel leading by one, Quad City’s Matt Pohlkamp wound up for a one-timer on a cross-ice pass with an open side. Marcoux flew across the crease, got a pad on it and thwarted the Mallards’ best chance to tie.
“I saw the pass coming. It was a toe save. I think I got lucky a bit, but sometimes, you need a little bit of luck,” Marcoux said. “It gives you confidence, and to the team, too. After that save, we went harder on the forecheck, we got a really good chance after that.”
The second and third periods featured some of the team’s best hockey of the season, with Mallards netminder C.J. Motte making several big saves in the early stages of each period and Indy having a number of long shifts with all three forward lines cycling the puck low and working it back to the points.
“In practice, we’ve been working on a lot of speed and puck protection and puck management,” Anselmini said. “They had a good trap, but we got pucks in deep and worked them down low. That’s where the success came from.”
The visitors carried the play in the first period, getting 10 of the game’s first 12 shots, drawing an early power play and eventually breaking through when Brayden Low got to a loose puck in the crease in a mad scramble with 1:34 left in the period.
In the opening minutes of the second, Johnny McInnis just missed a tip on the first shift, Nick Bligh was able to skate in all alone on Motte, but was stopped twice. The Fuel had a number of shifts with long zone time, and had 13 of the period’s first 15 shots, eventually outshooting the visitors 18-5 in the second period.
“Even if you have a 45-second zone time and don’t get a shot, that’s quality shift because it makes them tired,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. The extended zone time led to the equalizer. The Fuel took advantage of a two-minute 5-on-3, which came when a scrap near Marcoux’s net led to two Mallards getting an extra minor each for roughing. After patiently working the puck through the triangle, Alex Wideman hit Rupert back-door for the tying goal with 9:27 left in the second.
The Fuel carried it through in the third – holding Quad City shotless for the first nine minutes and earning the period’s first power play after another extended round of pressure. Three seconds after it expired, the Rupert brothers made a play below the net, with Ryan feeding Anselmini in front for the game-winner.
“it was a great play by the Rupert brothers,” Anselmini said. “They found me backdoor. It was a great finish.”
Johnny McInnis added a late empty-netter for his first Fuel goal.
The Fuel head to Toledo Saturday night before returning home for two games next weekend.
“I told them at the end of the game, if you play the way you played those last two periods, it’ll be a lot of fun,” John said. “(Quad City) had five shots in the second, and in the third, half of their shots came in the final five minutes. We’re a successful team when we play below the dots in the offensive zone, manage the puck, work it low to high and create opportunities.”
Boxscore (link: https://www.echl.com/stats/game-center/15167)
1. Ryan Rupert (Fuel) G/A
2. Etienne Marcoux (Fuel) 29 saves
3. Brandon Anselmini (Fuel) G/A
1. While the power play was 1-for-3 on paper, two of those were simultaneous – a two-minute 5-on-3, and Anselmini’s goal came three seconds after the next power play expired. It was a strong push for a power play that had been 0-for-9 in recent games. “We had some good puck movement on the power play,” John said. “We had some good looks. We worked to keep stressing that – keeping the puck moving around.”
2. The Fuel kept Motte busy, but Marcoux had long stretches without seeing a shot – including the first nine minutes of the third. Once the Fuel got the lead, Marcoux expected a final push. “You have to stay focused because I knew they were going to push hard when we scored that second goal,” Marcoux said. “I knew they were going to come after us, and they did. The guys did a good job clearing the rebounds and allowing me to see the first shot.”
3. Ryan Rupert scored a goal for the second straight game since returning from a four-game absence, and had his second two-point game. Anselmini now has four points in three games since returning from a nine-game absence, and had his first goal and first multi-point game. Another player returned to action Friday, as goaltender Matt Tomkins was activated and dressed after suffering an early-season injury. Tomkins was the backup in Friday’s game.
4. The third goal-scorer, Johnny McInnis, joined the Fuel last week from South Carolina, and has been skating right wing with the Rupert brothers. His empty-netter was the cherry on top of a strong effort for him and his line. “He’s an energy guy,” John said. “He had a nice chance in the second. He’s going to bring some energy. He blocks shots. He’s had some opportunities to score.”
5. The Fuel held a 37-30 shot edge, but the number was 29-15 after the first period. Nick Bligh had nine shots. Nolan Descoteaux had six from the blueline – indicating the Fuel’s ability to move the puck low-to-high and use the points – while Wideman had five shots and McInnis had four.
6. After starting with some different combinations, John went back to familiar combos in the second period – moving Nick Bligh back with Alex Wideman and Michael Neal, and pairing Nathan Noel with Reed Seckel and Tommy Olczyk.
7. Quad City had a couple of familiar faces. Two former Fuel players – Tristan King (2016-17) and Garrett Klotz (2014-15) suited up for the Mallards. Alexander Kuqali, who played junior for the Indiana Ice, also was part of the QC lineup.
8. Friday was the fourth meeting between the Fuel and Mallards this season, but the first at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Indy is now 1-1-2 against Quad City, with the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 14 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
These were the lines at the start of the game, although Noel and Bligh flipped spots.
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Johnny McInnis
Alex Wideman-Michael Neal-Nathan Noel
Tommy Olczyk-Reed Seckel-Nick Bligh
Jack Burton-Zach Miskovic
Garrett Clarke-Nolan Descoteaux
Brandon Anselmini-Riley Sweeney
BU: Matt Tomkins
Scratches: Stephen Collins, Cam Reid, Troy Vance (IR), Anthony Cortese (IR)
Roster moves: Goaltender Collin Delia was called up to Rockford Friday. Matt Tomkins was activated from 21-day injured reserve.
Next up: The Fuel travel to Toledo for a Saturday game. They will return home Dec. 8-9 to face Wheeling and Wichita.