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Fuel Outlast Komets in Wild Showdown

Fuel Outlast Komets in Wild Showdown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The regular season started for the Indy Fuel on Friday night, hosting their in-state rival, the Fort Wayne Komets.  In front of over six thousand fans, a near-capacity crowd, the Fuel were determined to start this season off on the right foot. Luckily for them, they did just that with a 7-5 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets.

It didn’t begin in an ideal fashion for Indy, as an early penalty by Koletrane Wilson allowed Fort Wayne’s Matt Alvaro to tap in a pass from behind the net for the early lead.  Fort Wayne controlled the early part of the frame until veteran Alex Wideman skated down the far side and zipped a wrist shot past Komets goaltender Ryan Fanti to tie the contest.  Within a minute, two more goals, one by either side evened the score at two apiece.  Drake Rymsha regained the Komet lead momentarily before Bryan Lemos directed a one timer past Fanti to tie it back up.  With just over three minutes to go in the period, Indy would convert on their first power play opportunity of the season with a shot from the blue line by Chad Yetman to give the Fuel their first lead of the season heading into intermission.

Indy carried their momentum into the second period and capitalized on another Fort Wayne penalty as Jan Mandat took a behind the net pass and elevated the puck top shelf over Fanti’s glove to double the Fuel lead.  Fort Wayne stormed right back with a net crashing effort by Matt Boudens, who squeezed the puck past Fuel goaltender Mitchell Weeks to pull within one.  For the rest of the period, Indy continued to test the Fort Wayne defense, with numerous odd man rushes and breakaways, but Fanti stood his ground.

Fort Wayne began the third retaining possession for the opening couple of minutes, but a Boudens turnover resulted in an odd man rush chance for the Fuel in which Wideman fed a pass to Yetman to extend the lead.  Jan Mandat would score his second of the season halfway through the frame, knocking down a dump-in attempt and diving around a Fort Wayne defender to shovel the puck between the legs of Fanti for a 6-3 Fuel advantage.  Minutes later, the Komets would make a push to close the gap with Tyler Busch tipping a shot from the point past Weeks.  A late Fort Wayne power play chance was foiled by Bryan Lemos, who intercepted a pass leading to a break away empty net goal to seal the deal.  The Komets did add one more tally from Marc-Antoine Pepin, but it was simply too late, and the Fuel closed the books on a 7-5 victory.

Key Points

Welcome Back Wideman

In Alex Wideman’s return to Indy, he totaled three points, the most out of everyone on both teams.  His wrist shot was the first goal of the season for the Fuel, and it started the flurry of seven goals on Friday night.  Wideman’s two assists lead to Indy capturing their first lead of the year and regained Indy’s momentum in the third period following a barrage of Fort Wayne chances.  His presence was a game changer for the Fuel in this contest.

Fort Wayne Defense

It’s only one game, but Fort Wayne had their fair share of struggles on the defensive end all night.  Trends of defensive zone turnovers and defensive breakdowns plagued the Komets all game and led to several odd man rushes that the Fuel took full advantage of.  It’s important, however, to also give credit to the Fuel attack, as they were able to find the open space in the slot behind the Komet defense to generate scoring chances.

Power Play Success

Both teams made good use of their man advantage opportunities.  Fort Wayne and Indy each scored two power play goals on the night, and as time went on, the teams’ setups continued to become more fluent and structured.  From crashing the net to one-timer feeds from behind the net, these two clubs did their damage on the power play and could very well be near the top of the league in this category if their success continues.

Game one of the “Battle for Indiana” goes to the Fuel!  Indy weathered early miscues, took advantage of Fort Wayne mistakes, captured the lead, and never looked back.  The Fuel will look to sweep the weekend on Saturday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on Wings.  Indy will be back at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Friday, November 4 against the Iowa Heartlanders.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2022 season!

    Josh Neireiter covers the Indy Fuel for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHFuel.

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