Fuel Rewind: November 14 vs. Toledo
Post-game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithNov 15, 2017
When Radovan Bondra drew the Indy Fuel within a goal early in the third period, momentum had swung and the Fuel looked close to drawing even with the Toledo Walleye.
But Toledo goaltender Matej Machovsky held firm in the ensuing flurry, setting the stage for Christian Hilbrich to answer, sending the visiting Walleye to a 4-1 victory over the Fuel Tuesday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
The Fuel had a strong effort, but Machovsky stopped 29 shots and was saved by the posts a number of times in the contest.
“It was huge,” Nick Bligh said of the momentum boost from Bondra’s goal. “He was working hard all night. It was a big boost for us to get his first pro goal. It got everybody going. We had a good opportunity, but we couldn’t capitalize on the momentum.”
Bondra’s goal came 2:53 into the third period and cut the deficit to 2-1, as the Fuel rushed the puck up-ice. Matt Rupert dragged his skate to stay onside, then threw the puck at the net from the corner. The rebound dribbled out to Bondra, who hammered it home for his first professional goal.
Bondra was happy to get the first goal, but was hoping it would contribute to a victory.
“It’s nice to score your first pro goal, but if it’s not going to help the team, it’s just for nothing,” Bondra said, “I was watching what Rupes was going to do with the puck. I was waiting for a chance, for the puck to come to me so I could shoot.”
The Fuel had a strong push in the ensuing minutes, but were unable to come up with the equalizer. They then went on the penalty kill – and while they killed it off, Toledo took the momentum. Eventually, the Walleye extended the lead at 9:17 of the third. Fuel netminder Collin Delia stopped Hilbrich’s initial shot, but Hilbrich pounced on a loose puck in the crease to extend Toledo’s lead. The Walleye’s Austen Brassard then added a late insurance goal.
“It was a timely goal. It was good until we went on the penalty kill,” Fuel assistant coach Ryan McGinnis said of the response to the Bondra goal. “We took a penalty and now we’re back to playing defense. That kills another two minutes, and at that point, the clock is our enemy. Yes, we got the goal, a timely goal, but we went back to playing on the penalty kill and they slowly got the momentum back.”
The opening periods saw a number of near-misses by the Fuel. Nick Bligh hit two posts – including one point-blank off a 2-on-1 – and Alex Wideman just missed the post on a curl-and-drag move early in the contest.
Indy committed to a strong forechecking game, which led to a number of scoring chances generated from cycling the puck to the points, but Machovsky and the Toledo defense were able to clear the rebounds.
“We’re working hard,” Bligh said. We put a lot of pucks on them early. We were going hard. We were firing at the net, it just seemed like it wasn’t going in. It seemed like it’s been like that in this stretch. We have to keep our head down and keep working.”
Toledo drew first blood when Mike Borkowski scored four minutes into the game, but the Fuel followed with a solid stretch where they had seven straight shots. Alex Wideman had the best chance of the period, when he just missed the post off a curl-and-drag move off the rush.
Delia made two point-blank saves on Zach Nastasiuk early in the second to keep the Fuel in reach. Toledo took a 2-0 lead when Charlie O’Connor stuffed a rebound after Delia made a pad save on Connor Crisp.
Tuesday’s game was the first of a six-game homestand for the Fuel, which continues Friday against Kalamazoo and Saturday against Tulsa as they look to end a seven-game winless streak. They’ll look to continue the simple, forechecking game that saw success Tuesday.
“We were trying to keep it simple,” Bligh said. “We just weren’t doing it for 60. We’ve got to keep that the whole game. The more we try to get fancy, the more it backfires on us. We’ve got to get shots on net, we’ve got to get pucks in deep, we’ve got to forecheck. We were doing it in spurts and it was paying off for us, but we’ve got to keep it for the full 60.”
1.Austen Brassard (TOL) G/A
2.Christian Hilbrich (TOL) G
3.Radovan Bondra (Fuel) G
1. The Fuel were as strong on the cycle as they had been at home on the young season, having several spurts with long stretches of zone time and flurries of shots, but Machovsky was able to make 29 saves.
2. The Fuel penalty kill was very solid against Toledo’s powerful PP, going 4-for-4. The PK is now 13 for its last 14. Indy did not draw a power play in the game.
3. The schedule is getting kinder to the Fuel. After starting with eight of 11 on the road, Tuesday kicked off a six-game homestand. Indy will play eight of its next nine at home.
4. The Fuel dropped to 2-7-2 with the loss, and are 0-6-0 when trailing after two periods. Bondra’s goal looked to be a key to a comeback, but Toledo had the answer.
5. Tuesday’s game was the second of nine games between the two division rivals. Toledo is 2-0-0 against the Fuel this season.
6. It was a homecoming of sorts for several Toledo players – forward Tyler Barnes played for the Fuel last season. Christian Hilbrich, Shane Berschbach, Ryan Obuchowski and Kyle Bonis all played junior hockey for the Indiana Ice. Hilbrich had a goal, Berschbach two assists and Obuchowski an assist for the Walleye.
Alex Wideman-Cam Reid-Andrew Schmit
Radovan Bondra-Nathan Noel-Matt Rupert
Reed Seckel-Michael Neal-Nick Bligh
Garrett Clarke-Nick Trecapelli
Nolan Descoteaux-Zach Miskovic
Jack Burton-Robin Press
BU: Alex Sakellaropoulos
Scratches: Troy Vance, Ryan Rupert, Frank Schumacher, Brandon Anselmini, Anthony Cortese (IR), Matt Tomkins (IR)
Next up: The Fuel return to the Coliseum Friday to face Kalamazoo, then host Tulsa Saturday. The puck drops for both games at 7:35 p.m.