INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Fuel played host to their in-state rivals on a chilly evening in the Circle City on Thursday night. Entering the contest, Indy was undefeated on home ice including a 7-5 offensive victory over Fort Wayne on opening night. They also looked to extend their division lead on the Komets as the schedule shifts toward Thanksgiving; however, it was clear that Fort Wayne had other plans that night on how the game would turn out with a 6-3 victory over the Fuel.
The Fuel came out buzzing early, drawing a penalty, and Chad Yetman firing a shot below the slot that just squeezed through the pads of Fort Wayne goaltender Colton Point for the early lead. The offense continued to hum for the home side, and Indy took a 2-0 lead when Seamus Malone capitalized on a shorthanded transition opportunity almost halfway through the opening period. Fort Wayne redeemed themselves on their ensuing power play with Drake Rymsha beating Fuel netminder Mitchell Weeks top shelf on a cross-crease pass. The Komets continued to control the late stages of the frame until Spencer Watson threw an awkward puck toward the Fort Wayne net that somehow found its way through Point to redouble Indy’s two-goal advantage heading into the opening intermission.
Fort Wayne began the second period with a goaltending change, replacing Point with newly acquired Rylan Parenteau. It seemed to inspire the Komets, as Fort Wayne would rattle off two goals in the frame to tie the game at 3 apiece. The first was a shot by Anthony Petruzzelli from the boards with a near-impossible angle that surprised Weeks as it zipped past his shoulder. The second, also finished by Petruzzelli, began with Stefano Giliati beating the Fuel defenders to a loose puck and delivering a saucer pass to him to tie the game.
The Komets continued their momentum into the third period with a pair of tallies in the opening stages. Just over four minutes in, Giliati rocketed a one timer that beat a sliding Mitchell Weeks to give Fort Wayne their first lead of the night. Fifty-eight seconds later, the Komets struck again. The team continued crashing the Fuel net, and the puck found its way into the net with Shawn Boudrias being awarded for the goal. Fort Wayne dominated the majority of the final period, including killing off a 77-second five-on-three-man advantage with ease. The Komets concluded the scoring with just over four minutes remaining when Rymsha beat Weeks’ glove side with a blast from the offensive faceoff circle for a 6-3 final.
Flipping the Script
Fort Wayne scored the final five goals of the contest which also means that Indy lead 3-1 at one point. Sure enough, the Fuel held a two-goal advantage twice in the contest, leads of 2-0 and 3-1, the latter being the score after one period. The game felt to be leaning towards a similar path of the 7-5 Fuel victory over the Komets last month but give credit to Fort Wayne on countering that. In the final two periods, the Komets outscored and outshot the Fuel 5-0 and 31-19 respectively. Fort Wayne also scored on 3 of 4 power play chances while Indianapolis went scoreless on five attempts, including their late five-on-three opportunity.
A Momentum Swing
Off the previous point, Fort Wayne was in a rough spot after the first period, giving up three goals in the opening period, including two of them that were headscratchers. This led to the Komets pulling Colton Point for Rylan Parenteau who had just been picked up earlier that day in a trade. Looking for any sort of spark, the new goaltender stopped all 19 shots he faced including several sprawling saves to hold Indy off the scoreboard and keep the momentum on the Komets side. In addition to Parenteau, the defense seemed to tighten up in the final two periods, highlighted by shot blocking and pass breakups in the neutral and offensive zones. This combination allowed the Komets to storm back and gain a stranglehold on the contest as the night went on.
Captain Comes Through
In the midst of a rivalry game, there may be no better player to turn to than your captain. Sometimes they might be called upon to deliver a motivational speech or create some big hits to regain momentum for their team. Komets Captain Anthony Petruzzelli’s job Thursday night was to lead his team’s offensive charge back into the game and to victory. His two goals in the second period allowed Fort Wayne to seize all momentum that Indy had garnered in the opening frame, and the Komets refused to give the Fuel any chance of getting it back.
Indy will look to forget about this loss quickly as the team shifts its focus to Toledo on Saturday night. The Walleye, last year’s Western Conference Champions, are off to a slower than usual start. Currently sitting in fourth place, a victory over them would go a long way for Indy as they try to gain some separation from the rest of the Central Division pack. On the flip side, suffering an 0-2 start to the weekend with the losses coming to the two teams directly below the Fuel would be disastrous, especially with teams beginning to find their groove. No matter what happens, Indy will return home Sunday, November 20 in the hopes of restarting their home winning streak at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
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