INDIANAPOLIS – It might’ve been “All You Can Eat Night” at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, but it also seemed to be unofficially “All You Can Score Night” as the Fuel had their best offensive output of the season on Friday night. Undoubtedly one of the best games of the season to date, over four thousand fans packed into the arena to witness the Fuel tally four power play goals and a hat trick from the newest member of the team, Darien Craighead.
Despite all of those achievements, it would’ve been difficult to predict such a successful outcome from the first minute of the contest. Cincinnati’s Justin Vaive scored just 48 seconds into the game on a rebound from out front to give the Cyclones the early lead. However, that would be Cincinnati’s last shot until the final two minutes of the frame. Sandwiched between those time periods, Indy would respond with three goals. The first came just 20 seconds after the Cyclone goal, as Spencer Watson would get his first of a pair on the night, nudging the puck into the back of the net after sitting momentarily in the goal crease. Darien Craighead started his charge for three by whipping a shot from the slot past Sean Bonar at 12:04 of the period to give the Fuel the lead at 2-1. Seamus Malone would poke home the third goal on the power play with just over four minutes to play in the opening frame.
The Fuel would press early on the second period and grab another goal, this time from Jared Thomas, who rocketed a power play one-timer into the net just 1:28 into the second. In response, the Cyclones would initiate a goalie change by sending in Cole Kehler to try and change the flow of the game. It momentarily worked, as it inspired a Johnny Coughlin goal on a shot that narrowly zipped over the shoulder of Indy goaltender Cale Morris from just inside the blue line. Craighead would put the Fuel back up a trio of goals, with his second of the night on a one time shot from below the right circle and past Kehler.
The third period would be more of the same, as Mike Lee juked out Kehler on a drive to the net and Watson would send the puck into the cage for his second of the night. Craighead would complete his hat trick with a fierce wrist shot that powered its way top corner over the blocker of Kehler for the Fuel’s seventh goal of the night. The rest of the final period would diverge from the plethora of scoring chances earlier in the game to instead involving chippy play from both sides that lead to three misconduct penalties.
It was truly a dominating performance in all phases of the game for the Fuel. Coming off of two straight weeks on the road and a three game losing streak, it was evident that Indy came ready to play Friday night. The Fuel held a 42-16 shot advantage on the night to go with their impressive 4-of-6 effort on the power play. Indy also did their job on the opposite side of the spectrum, as they only surrendered one man advantage opportunity to the Cyclones all night and defeated it with ease.
“The guys worked. They earned their chances. Really, really proud of them.” Fuel coach Doug Christiansen said.
The third year Fuel coach was pleased with his team’s performance on Friday night and looks forward to continuing their momentum into the rest of the weekend. The victory propels the Fuel into sixth place in the central division, as they passedthe Iowa Heartlanders.
Indy will have the opportunity to draw within a point of fifth place Kalamazoo this weekend, as they start a home-and-home with the Wings with games on Saturday in Indianapolis and Sunday in Michigan.
After this weekend, the Fuel will hit the road again for a post Christmas battle with in-state rival Fort Wayne on Sunday, December 26, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
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