Fuel Rewind: November 4 vs. Wheeling
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithNov 5, 2017
With one of the league’s top power plays, the Indy Fuel entered the middle period of Saturday’s game with a man advantage and a chance to climb back into the contest.
But the visiting Wheeling Nailers turned the tables, with Nick Sorkin on a shorthanded 2-on-1 a half-minute into the period, which allowed them to seize momentum in a 5-1 victory over the Fuel.
Sorkin’s tally gave Wheeling a three-goal advantage, and the Nailers followed with two more goals in the opening three minutes of the period.
“That’s a dagger because it’s a new period, we’ve got a minute and 25 second power play, and usually, with fresh ice, you’d think a home team would take advantage, but we didn’t,” Fuel assistant coach Ryan McGinnis said. “That goal against, you could feel it. They added two more after that – they didn’t stop. The great thing about this is, we’ll make some changes. We’ll do video, we’ll have our routine that we do. We have some guys that we can plug in and give them an opportunity to showcase themselves.”
Old friend Kenny Ryan scored a power-play goal at 2:08 of the second period, and Reid Gardiner made it 5-0 with an unassisted goal 47 seconds later.
Tommy Olczyk followed with a goal for the Fuel at 3:24 of the second, intercepting a defense-to-defense pass in front of the net and burying it to get Indy onto the board.
It followed a first period in which Wheeling set the pace – and the tone – with an early power play goal. The visitors took the lead when Kevin Schulz wristed a shot from the mid-slot, and controlled the pace in an end-to-end first period. Gardiner, who assisted on the first goal and would have a three-point night, followed with a goal from the netmouth in the latter stages to extend the Nailers’ lead.
“We need to come out stronger as a team,” Fuel blueliner Zach Miskovic said. “We need to show better from the puck drop and all the way through the first 20. We’ve got to bring a full 60-minute effort, especially in our barn, but going forward every single night.”
The second period began with a wild first 10 minutes. It included four goals, a fight between Andrew Schmit and Wheeling’s Jeremy Beirns moments after Wheeling’s last goal. Another scrap saw Matt Rupert and Wheeling’s Danny Fick get matching roughing double-minors, while the Fuel’s Garrett Clarke and Dalton Reum also dropped the gloves. The frame also begat Olczyk’s goal. The Fuel drew three power plays in the middle period – including a five-minute major when Garrett Meurs was sent off for slashing. Indy had a strong push in the latter half of the second period and into the third – outshooting Wheeling 32-20 in the final two periods and 42-36 for the game – but Wheeling’s Sean Maguire finished the night with 41 saves.
In the third period, Alex Wideman nearly had a goal in a front of the net scramble, but it was disallowed as the referee ruled the puck did not cross the line. Ryan Rupert hit a post, one of several chances his line created.
“Schmit fought, the Ruperts went in there and mixed things up,” McGinnis said. “From that point forward, the rest of the second and all of the third was better. Wheeling probably sat back a bit – it’s 5-1, they’re on the road – but there’s things you can take from that. I thought guys elevated their game, and I liked the way the guys were positive even through adversity. As coaches, you look for things to take with you on to the next game. Those are things we’ll look at and take with us tomorrow.”
One night after making his first professional start, Etienne Marcoux came off the bench and made 16 saves in 37 minutes of action. Collin Delia, who was assigned by Rockford earlier in the day, stopped 15 of 20 shots.
The Fuel are looking forward to getting back into action at 3:05 p.m. Sunday at home against the Toledo Walleye.
“Try not to dwell on this one,” Miskovic said. “We need to come back, get ready to go and play a full 60 tomorrow.”
1.Reid Gardiner (WHL) 2G/A
2.Sean Maguire (WHL) 41 saves
3.Nick Sorkin (WHL) G/A
1. Special teams have been very good to the Fuel this season, as they came in with a power play that was clicking at 25 percent, but Wheeling’s PP was humming at 36 percent coming into the day. The Fuel scored at least one PPG in each of the first five games, but were 0-for-8 on the power play Saturday. Wheeling was 2-for-3 and added a shorthanded goal.
2. Rookie goaltender Etienne Marcoux, one night after making his pro debut in a shootout loss in Quad City, was solid in relief, with 16 saves. He stopped 60 of 63 shots over the two nights. “He had a heck of a weekend for us,” Miskovic said. “He played very well.”
3. The game featured 63 penalty minutes – 41 whistled against Wheeling – with 51 of those minutes coming in a 10-minute stretch of the second period.
4. The trio of Alex Wideman, Cam Reid and Michael Neal put a lot of rubber on Maguire’s net. Wideman had six of the Fuel’s 42 shots, while Reid had five. Indy’s total of 42 shots was one shy of the season high of 43, set in the home opener against Tulsa two weeks ago.
5. Saturday marked the home ice debut of Michael Neal and Frank Schumacher. Neal was a big presence for the Fuel up front in 2016-17, and was activated this week. Schumacher was acquired prior to Friday’s game. The two made their season debuts Friday.
Alex Wideman-Cam Reid-Michael Neal
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Nick Bligh
Tommy Olczyk-Reed Seckel-Radovan Bondra
Garrett Clarke-Zach Miskovic
Frank Schumacher-Robin Press
Nolan Descoteaux-Troy Vance
Scratches: Will Smith, Brandon Anselmini, Nick Trecapelli, Anthony Cortese (IR), Jack Burton (IR), Matt Tomkins (IR)