INDIANAPOLIS – Just less than two weeks ago the Indy Fuel traveled to Wheeling, West Virginia to start a five-game road trip. That matchup started a chain of five straight losses for the Fuel. This time, the two sides faced off in Indianapolis as the Fuel looked to get revenge on the Nailers and bring momentum into the rest of the weekend, and Indy succeeded in their mission, winning 5-2.
Indy began the game seeming disjointed and out of sync, and as a result, an early turnover led to Matt Alfaro lighting the lamp just 2:40 into the contest.
The momentum from the goal was short-lived by Wheeling as Brent Gates would tie the game just under three minutes later at 5:20. Gates’s shot from the point found its way through defenders and past goaltender Alex D’Orio for a 1-1 tie. The intensity from both sides seemed to pick up as Wheeling’s Cam Hausinger and Indy’s Tommy Apap were each given two-minute roughing calls following their altercation at the end of the period.
The second period was all Indy. The Fuel would tally two goals despite being outshot in the frame. Cliff Watson gave Indy its first lead of the contest just 37 seconds into the period. His one-timer beat D’Orio as he tried to slide back across the crease. Indy’s third goal of the contest would be Gates’s second of the night as he fed the puck across the crease, and it took an odd bounce and found its way behind D’Orio. Gates seemed to be looking for a Fuel teammate on the odd-man rush, but nevertheless, the Fuel doubled their lead late in the second period.
Tempers were flaring and physicality was at an all-time high on the night as both teams competed to seize momentum early in the final frame. Indy would win the battle, as Jacob LaGuerrier rocketed a shot from the left circle over the shoulder of Alex D’Orio to tally the Fuel’s fourth straight goal of the contest and a 4-1 lead.
Following the goal, tempers finally boiled over. Wheeling’s Tyler Drevitch was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a fight between Hausinger and Apap, the two players who had been given penalties for roughing earlier, broke out on the ensuing face-off. The middle portion of the frame flew by with lots of end-to-end action and few stoppages of play.
Watson would commit a cross-checking penalty with six minutes left to play and send the Nailers to their fourth power play of the night, and they would capitalize. Wheeling pulled its goalie to set up a 6-on-4 advantage, and a Chris Ortiz shot beat Indy goalie Cale Morris to cut the lead to 4-2 . Not much else would go Wheeling’s way, as Indy’s Watson would convert an empty net from the opposite end of the ice to seal the victory for Indy at 5-2.
“It’s two teams that saw each other so many times last year that there’s a carry over, and I think that we’re going to see that from time to time,” Indy head coach Doug Christiansen comments on the physicality of the game Friday night and that he expects to see it more between the two sides as the season continues.
The Fuel have now won two games in a row following their five straight losses on the road. Indy will look to continue their winning streak on Saturday night, as the Kalamazoo Wings come to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum for a 7:00 start.
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