Fuel Rewind: March 17 vs. Toledo
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithMar 18, 2018
With the way things began Saturday night for the Indy Fuel, it appeared the newly-painted green ice had given them extra speed.
The Fuel were flying, scoring three goals in a four-minute stretch in the first period to take an early lead.
But the visiting Toledo Walleye found the pot of gold on St. Patrick’s Day, as Kyle Bonis scored a rebound goal with 1:19 left to tie the game, and then won it 16 seconds into overtime to steal a 4-3 victory over the Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Indy did gain a standings point with the overtime loss, giving the Fuel 64 points and moving them into a fifth-place tie with Kansas City. Indy is two points back of fourth-place Kalamazoo, which holds the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
“I thought we played well for most of the game,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “We had some opportunities given away, and they’re too good of a team to let back into the game.”
The game started with one of the best stretches of the season as the Fuel built a 3-0 lead with goals in a 2:48 span, but Toledo was able to use a second-period penalty kill to turn the tide, and two goals bookending the third to send it to OT.
It was a big shift from Friday’s 6-1 loss in Cincinnati. Indy came out flying and peppering Toledo goaltender Pat Nagle with shots and quality scoring chances.
“We had an emphasis on competing, not just from the start, but for the whole game,” John said. “Today, the compete was there. We had some chances – Nagle made some big saves at points. (Matt) Tomkins made some huge saves, as well. The goalies played well. That’s what you expect.”
Tomkins stopped 37 shots in the Fuel net. Nagle made 28 saves for Toledo.
The Fuel broke through on the power play when Josh Shalla hammered a shot from the mid-slot off a tic-tac-toe zone entry. Twenty-six seconds later, Ryan Rupert finished a 200-foot rush with the first of his two goals, putting Indy up 2-0. Rupert scored again off the cycle to extend the lead to 3-0, as the Fuel scored three goals in a span of 2:48. Both goals were assisted by Matt Rupert.
“We came out very strong after last night’s brutal performance,” Ryan Rupert said. “We came out 3-0. That’s exactly how we drew it up in the room. We started off pretty good in the second. We had that 5-on-3. We had a chance, but it didn’t end up working.”
A power play followed, and although unsuccessful, the Fuel were in control of the game against the division leaders for the first 20 minutes. It carried into a strong start to the second, where the Fuel had an extended 5-on-3. While it generated a pair of good looks, it ended with a penalty and an eventual power play goal by Barnes to cut the lead to 3-1.
Indy had two golden chances to extend the lead back to three – a 3-on-1 where Michael Neal’s shot was just wide, and two rebound whacks by Ryan Rupert on the doorstep.
Toledo gradually was able to gain momentum as the second period went on, although the Fuel lead remained at 3-1 going into the third.
“It was a good first, and after that power play goal they got, that was the turning point,” Ryan Rupert said. “You could feel the game shifting.”
Toledo cut the lead to 3-2 on a shot from the point off a faceoff 20 seconds into the third. Mike Embach deflected a seemingly-harmless point shot from Parker Reno into the net. Tomkins made a diving save to stop an attempt to tie off another faceoff 20 seconds later, but Toledo kept coming, outshooting the Fuel 16-7 in the final period.
With Nagle pulled, Bonis pounced on a rebound of Embach’s shot in the goalmouth to complete the comeback. In overtime, Ryan Obuchowski won a puck along the boards with two Fuel players in the area and spun the puck to Barnes, who found Bonis at the front of the net to end it.
“Overall, the effort was there,” John said. “We’ve just got to make sure that when we’ve got a team down, no matter how good they are, we’ve got to find a way to score the next one and the next one and finish them off.”
1. Kyle Bonis (TOL) 2G/A
2. Ryan Rupert (Fuel) 2G
3. Tyler Barnes (TOL) G/2A
1. Taking a point from Toledo is always a good thing. The Walleye hold the ECHL’s top record, and now lead the Central Division by seven points over Fort Wayne. Indy has now gained three of a possible four points from Toledo in two games over the last week. However, it stings a bit to lose a three-goal lead and fall in overtime.
2. The game’s turning point came with the 5-on-3 penalty kill immediately followed by a Toledo power play goal. While the Fuel remained in the lead – and kept it at 3-1 for the second period – the Walleye began to carry more of the play. Their two goals, however, were a deflection and a rebound on a scramble play.
3. Defensemen Jack Burton’s name didn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he was instrumental in clearing the back-door plays Toledo looks for and getting to loose pucks in the front of the net. He finished the night with no shots and an even +/-, but his contributions were big defensively.
4. Ryan Rupert not only had two goals, he had a season-high seven shots and his line set the tone for the game again. It was his second two-goal game – the other coming Jan. 28 at Kalamazoo. “He’s going to the net, finding ways to put it in the back of the net,” John said. “The first goal was a nice shot – (he and twin brother Matt) find each other. The other was some dirty work down in the corner. He had a couple more chances. He wasn’t able to bury them.” Linemate Johnny McInnis now has four points in five games.
5. Matt Tomkins gets an unfortunate loss, as he made several big saves among his 37 stops. The goals he gave up were tough-to-stop ones – the third period goals were a deflection and a weak-side rebound – but he made several big saves. “He gave us a shot to win,” Ryan Rupert said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get one more, but he was a rock in there for us.”
6. Andrew DeBrincat made his professional debut Saturday. Signed earlier in the week to an amateur tryout offer, the rookie from American International College skated on the third defensive pair. He is the older brother of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat.
7. Saturday’s game was the first home overtime game played by the Fuel this season. The Fuel are now 2-3 in OT this season and 4-4 in all games that go beyond 60 minutes.
8. Indy is now 1-6-1 against Toledo this season, with one meeting remaining, March 7 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Saturday’s game marked the first time the Fuel had gained points in back-to-back games against Toledo this season.
Michael McNicholas-Logan Nelson-Josh Shalla
Darian Dziurzynski-Reed Seckel-Michael Neal
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Johnny McInnis
Jack Burton-Zach Miskovic
Brandon Anselmini-Robin Press
Jaynen Rissling-Andrew DeBrincat
BU: Edwin Minney
Scratches: Tommy Olczyk, Riley Sweeney, Cam Reid (IR), Jonah Imoo (IR)
Scoreboard watching: Kalamazoo moved two points ahead of the Fuel with a 4-1 win over Cincinnati. The Wings now have 66 points and are in fourth place – the Central Division’s final playoff spot. Indy moved into a fifth-place tie with Kansas City, as both teams have 64 points. KC’s game against Tulsa was postponed Saturday due to travel difficulties. On Sunday, KC hosts Quad City. Both the Fuel and Kalamazoo are idle.
Next up: The Fuel travel to Cincinnati for a Tuesday night game. The next home game is March 23 against Fort Wayne.