Fuel Rewind: November 25 vs. Kansas City
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithNov 26, 2017
Entering Saturday night’s game, the Indy Fuel wanted to come out of the gate quickly.
They did exactly that, generating chances and flying around the Kansas City Mavericks’ zone throughout the opening 20 minutes, and added to it with a shorthanded goal in the second.
But the visiting Mavericks turned the tide with three second-period goals to take the lead, and turned it into a 6-3 victory over the Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Jared VanWormer scored twice and added an assist for Kansas City, which has won seven of its last eight games.
“We had a great start,” Fuel captain Michael Neal said. “We were playing with a lead. We haven’t done that very many times this year. In hockey games, there’s momentum shifts. Good teams handle them the right way.
“We’ve got to learn. They’re going to get their chances – every team in this league is a good hockey team. When you’re struggling, it’s the little things that bite you a bit. You could see that tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a couple of bounces, but we’ve got to be better.”
The momentum shift came in the second period, shortly after Ryan Rupert’s shorthanded goal restored a 3-2 Fuel lead. Shawn Pauly and Jordan Kwas scored on rebounds in a three-minute span late in the period to put Kansas City up 4-3. Mike McMurtry scored earlier in the period after a long shift in which the Mavericks had pressure for more than a minute and generated several scoring chances.
In the third, Kayle Doetzel gave Kansas City a two-goal lead with a one-timer in the slot just four minutes in. VanWormer added a late power play goal to extend the margin.
Kansas City was 2-for-3 on the power play. Indy was 0-for-2. Collin Delia stopped 32 shots in the Fuel net. Kansas City’s Tyler Parsons made 30 saves.
The finish was a stark contrast to the start, where the Fuel came out blazing, drawing a power play in the first 90 seconds, firing nine of the game’s first 10 shots and taking an early lead. Shortly after the game’s first power play expired, Brandon Anselmini fired from the point. Neal pounced on the rebound and scored to give the Fuel a lead 3:25 into the game.
After VanWormer scored the first of his two power play goals midway through the period, Indy’s forecheck led to another goal, as Tommy Olczyk forced a turnover and fed Reed Seckel to put the Fuel up 2-1.
The trio of Neal, Nathan Noel and Seckel generated a lot of early pressure, as they combined for half of the Fuel’s 14 first-period shots and several scoring chances. In the opening 20 minutes, Indy dominated zone time, chances and pressure.
“All three units, we did what we needed to do,” Rupert said. “We ended up getting the lead. For some reason, in the second period, we didn’t rely on our game.”
Rupert – returning to the lineup after a four-game absence – made his presence felt in the second. After Kansas City tied the game at 2-2, he poke-checked a Maverick at center ice and turned it into a breakaway for his second shorthanded goal of the year.
“I did what I do best – stick on puck, separate it,” he said. “I had so much speed. I took him wide and he couldn’t hold his crease.”
The Fuel now have four shorthanded goals on the season, all created by strong pressure forcing turnovers at center that turn into breaks.
“For myself, I find they usually have four forwards out there (on the power play,” Rupert said. “That’s when you can get the most chances. I’ve always been a PK guy and I like to generate offense.”
The Fuel are back in action next weekend, as they host Quad City on Friday before traveling to Toledo for a Saturday night game. One key will be extending the first-period effort for a full 60 minutes.
“We know we can be a lot better,” Neal, the Fuel’s captain, said. “Coach has put in a lot of good things for us to do. It’s on the players. We’ve got to buy in, guys have to do the right things. It’ll come – you could see that in the first period. We were getting pucks to the net, getting pucks out of our zone, speed through the neutral zone. It showed.”
1. Jared VanWormer (KC) 2G/A, 9 shots
2. Justin Breton (KC) 2A, 5 shots
3. Ryan Rupert (Fuel) SHG, +2
1. The Neal line had a red-hot start. Not only did it generate a goal, it followed with generating two good scoring chances on each of its next two shifts, which could’ve extended the Fuel’s early lead. Neal now has three goals in the last two games. Nathan Noel also has points in back-to-back games, as does defender Brandon Anselmini. All three factored into the scoring on Neal’s goal.
2. Ryan Rupert’s return to the lineup was big for the Fuel – and paid off with a shorthanded goal. He said he was excited to get back into the lineup and had a lot of energy. “You could see with the goal he scored on the PK – that’s the kind of guy he is,” Neal said of Rupert. “He gives us those momentum shifts in our favor.” Both of the Rupert twins – Ryan and Matt – were +2. Combined with linemate Johnny McInnis, the trio had 10 shots.
3. McInnis was making his Fuel debut after being claimed off waivers from South Carolina. He had four shots on goal – most on the team along with Seckel, Neal, Noel and Anselmini.
4. The Fuel had to shuffle their defense a bit after Friday night, as defenseman Robin Press was recalled to Rockford along with injured forward Radovan Bondra. Riley Sweeney moved into the lineup. Jack Burton – who had been Press’ usual partner - played with Zach Miskovic. Nolan Descoteaux, who had been Miskovic’s partner, paired with Riley Sweeney.
5. Saturday’s meeting was the first of five meetings between the Fuel and Mavericks. They will next meet Feb. 16-17 at the Mavericks’ home in Independence, Mo.
Alex Wideman-Cam Reid-Nick Bligh
Reed Seckel-Michael Neal-Nathan Noel
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Johnny McInnis
Jack Burton-Zach Miskovic
Brandon Anselmini-Garrett Clarke
Nolan Descoteaux-Riley Sweeney
BU: Etienne Marcoux
Scratches: Andrew Schmit, Stephen Collins, Troy Vance (IR), Anthony Cortese (IR), Matt Tomkins (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host Quad City Friday, Dec. 1.