Fuel Rewind: February 27 vs. Toledo
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithFeb 28, 2018
An Indy Fuel team that has made a habit of coming back from early deficits did so again Tuesday night against the ECHL-leading Toledo Walleye.
But after the Fuel rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game – the third time in a week Indy had come back from a multi-goal deficit – Toledo’s Kyle Bonis scored on a broken play with 4:50 to go to give the Walleye a 4-3 victory over the Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The loss snapped the Fuel’s four-game winning streak and kept Indy two points back of fourth-place Kalamazoo in the ECHL Central Division standings.
The Fuel fell behind 3-1 in the opening period before Matt Rupert and Johnny McInnis scored to knot the game early in the third.
“They’re one of the top teams in the league. You can’t chase the game that early,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “We had a really bad first period where we were chasing and gave up 18 shots. We had a few chances here and there, but we didn’t play the way we had been playing. Whenever you get down against a team like that, it makes it difficult.
“We battled hard in the second and I thought we got better in the third. We found a way to score goals and get it even. They got a lucky bounce, but that’s what good teams do. They throw pucks at the net and they get opportunities.”
The winning goal came after an icing. Toledo held the puck in at the line after a clearing attempt. Simon Denis threw the puck at the net, where it deflected off Bonis and in.
Indy had a handful of point-blank chances in the closing minutes to tie – with Josh Shalla being robbed on an open-side opportunity with 40 seconds remaining – but fell just short.
The line of Matt Rupert, Ryan Rupert and Johnny McInnis contributed all three Fuel tallies – Matt Rupert scored twice. McInnis had the primary assist on both before tying the game with a power-play goal. Defenseman Robin Press assisted on all three tallies.
The first goal came with the Fuel trailing 2-0 in the first. McInnis fired a shot from the point that Matt Rupert deflected past Toledo’s Pat Nagle. Rupert again drew the Fuel within one with 2:55 left in the second, when he followed McInnis on a rush and hooked the puck through the Walleye goaltender.
Matt Rupert had seven shots in the game, many from tight range.
“They play greasy, hard-nosed hockey, but they’ve got the skill to make hockey plays,” John said.
McInnis tied the game on the Fuel’s second power play. With A.J. Jenks in the box for tripping, Indy produced a lot of pressure in the opening seconds of the man advantage. Press hammered a shot from the center point, which Nagle stopped, but McInnis cleaned up the rebound for his 16th goal.
“Once we got the puck in the zone, we had other good opportunities throughout that power play,” John said. “Presser has been playing really well, getting pucks to the net. If we can get pucks to the net, we’ve got guys who will get to the puck like (Darian) Dziurzynski and McInnis. They’ll take their licks to get to the puck, and they get rewarded.”
Toledo took a two-goal lead in the first five minutes, converting twice on a back-door play, with Jenks and old friend Shane Berschbach scoring. Jenks’ goal came on the power play. Toledo’s Dylan Sadowy converted later in the period on the power play to make it a 3-1 game. The Walleye carried the play in the opening period, outshooting Indy 18-12.
Fuel netminder Matt Tomkins was outstanding early in the second, stopping Jenks on a breakaway, then making two more big saves in the opening seconds on a 4-on-4. He later stopped Austen Brassard in alone in front. He stopped 27 shots in the game, but those saves helped keep his team in it.
“We only gave up seven or eight shots in the second, but three of them were top-notch,” John said. “He made big saves to keep it tight and give us an opportunity. That gave us a chance, and we found a way. But there’s hockey gods up there, and maybe if we play the right way in the first, it works out.”
1. Kyle Bonis (TOL) GWG/A
2. Johnny McInnis (Fuel) G/2A
3. Matt Rupert (Fuel) 2G
1. There’s a lot to like from Tuesday’s game. The Fuel had a slow start and fell behind, but rallied against one of the league’s top teams. Good scoring chances are few against a Toledo team that – by far – leads the ECHL in goals against, especially when behind multiple goals. It was the second straight game between the Fuel and Toledo where the Walleye scored the winning goal in the closing minutes. “There’s good things to take out of it, but there’s also some things to correct,” John said.
2. With helpers on all three goals, Robin Press had the first three-point game of his ECHL career, and extended his scoring streak to nine games. Since Jan. 27 – a span of 15 games - he has seven goals and 10 assists. During his nine-game scoring streak, he has three goals and nine assists.
3. McInnis also had his first three-point game as a member of the Fuel. He has tallied points in three straight games and five of the last seven. Matt Rupert had his second two-goal game this season.
4. The Fuel’s league-leading power play was 1-for-2 against the ECHL’s No. 2 penalty kill unit. Indy has scored at least one power play goal in each of its last five games, a span in which the Fuel are 9-for-18. McInnis scored his fifth power-play goal, tying Darian Dziurzynski for third-most on the team. Ryan Rupert and Press lead the Fuel with six PPGs each.
5. After two days off, the Fuel have a big game Friday at third-place Cincinnati – a team three points ahead in the standings. The Cyclones are in action Wednesday against South Carolina before meeting the Fuel. The Fuel then return home to meet Utah twice. John said the team, which finished a run of eight games in 12 days Tuesday, will take a rest day and then get ready for the Cyclones. “We’ll have a good, clean, crisp practice to touch on some details we have to get better at going into the weekend,” John said. “It’s a big weekend. Utah comes in. They have a tough schedule – they go to Quad City on Wednesday and Friday. (Friday against Cincinnati) is a big four-point game for us to get us to where we want to go.”
Darian Dziurzynski-Michael Neal-Josh Shalla
Alex Wideman-Logan Nelson-Matt Iacopelli
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Johnny McInnis
Jack Burton-Zach Miskovic
Jaynen Rissling-Riley Sweeney
Robin Press-Brendan Mitchell
BU: Etienne Marcoux
Scratches: Tommy Olczyk, Brandon Anselmini, Cam Reid, Garrett Clarke
Next up: The Fuel travel to Cincinnati Friday before returning home to face Utah the next two days. Saturday’s game will being at 7:35 p.m., with Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies at 3:05 p.m.