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Indy Fuel


Icemen Survive Fuel Comeback Attempt

#ECHL | The @IndyFuel on Saturday night found themselves in a hole early, and their comeback bid fell just short in a 5-4 OT loss to the @JaxIcemen. @FPHFuel has all the action and reaction in his recap

Icemen Survive Fuel Comeback Attempt

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The “Madhouse on Madison” was transferred to Indianapolis on Saturday night for the Fuel’s rare matchup with the Jacksonville Icemen, who made the long trip up north.   It was Blackhawks Night, and with Chicago’s Jim Cornelison national anthem bringing the sea of red and white to their feet with applause accompanied by NHL legend Chris Chelios making an appearance, everything seemed to be going to plan.  The crowd was pumped, and another Fuel home victory seemed imminent, but their foes from the south wanted to show the Midwest how they play in the Sunshine State with a 5-4 victory in Indy.

Just over a minute into the contest, the speed of the Icemen burned the Fuel, as Victor Hadfield bolted past Indy defenders to the loose puck, leading to a breakaway, and ultimately backhanding a shot and beating Indy goaltender Zach Driscoll to silence the home crowd. Things would get worse quickly when another rush led to Brendan Harris delivering a pass in the slot to Ryan Lohin who buried a shot to double Jacksonville’s lead almost halfway through the opening frame. The Fuel had their chances late in the first but Icemen netminder Charles Williams kept Indy off the board through one.

Indy’s woes continued into the second as a defensive zone turnover allowed Lohin to net his second of the evening, tipping home a shot from the corner that just barely deflected across the goal line. The play was initially ruled no goal, but after further review, it was overturned in Jacksonville’s favor. At this point, it didn’t seem like it was going to be Indy’s night. Seamus Malone gave the crowd hope when he took a pass from behind the net that confused Williams, who was late to the post, and Malone blasted a shot by his arm and into the back of the net. The Fuel tried to feed off of this good fortune, but the Jacksonville physicality disrupted much of Indy’s offensive flow, and the two-goal lead was taken into the second intermission.

Down two goals and struggling on offense, it felt as if Indy would need Jacksonville to make a major mistake to regain momentum and have a chance at the victory. Luckily for the Fuel, that moment came early in the third when Easton Brodzinski crushed Indy captain Keoni Texeira into the boards, leaving him injured on the ice. From the incident, the Fuel were awarded a five-minute major power play, and Brodzinski was sent to the dressing room with a game misconduct. This started a string of three goals for Indy on the same power play, giving them their first lead all night. 

The first one, from Carson Rose, was a shot from the slot that beat Williams top shelf. Thirty-four seconds later, a loose puck found Luc Brown’s stick, and he beat the Icemen goaltender to the post to tie the contest at three. Malone seized the lead for the Fuel when he tapped a rebound past Williams on a one timer from the blue line. 

After this point, the Icemen seemed flustered for the first time all night, but then the Fuel took a penalty, allowing Jacksonville to regain momentum. Garret Cockerill capitalized on Indy’s failed clearing attempts to score on the expiring power play, sliding a one timer through Driscoll to even the score at four. The rest of regulation involved a lot of end-to-end rushes plus a plethora of Icemen chances in the final minute, but Driscoll held his ground to guarantee a point for the Fuel.

In overtime, Malone had a chance for the hat trick on a breakaway opportunity, but Williams kept the Icemen alive, and minutes later, Christopher Brown beat Driscoll top corner on his second attempt to give Jacksonville the 5-4 victory and weekend sweep over the Fuel.

Key Points

Icemen Physicality and Speed

One aspect that was obvious early on was the speed of the Icemen forwards. They beat the Fuel to loose pucks all night, and one of those led to Jacksonville’s first goal of the night. In addition to that, their physicality and hits knocked the Fuel chemistry off balance, resulting in fumbled pucks and players behind the play. Jacksonville controlled the pace of the game, and for most of it, Indy looked a step behind the visitors. 

Indy Turnovers

It’s been an issue as of late for the Fuel on home ice. Many of them were forced by Jacksonville’s forecheck, but failing to clear the defensive zone continues to burn Indy. Just like in the third period with the Fuel having all the momentum, not getting the puck beyond the blue line gifted the Icemen second chances, and they took advantage and tied the game. Talented teams like Jacksonville will take advantage of those turnovers every chance they get.

The Power Play

The game seemed all but over until the hit on Texeira that opened the door to a Fuel comeback. At that point in the game, Jacksonville was continuing to use physicality to frustrate Indy, but this time, it backfired tremendously. The Fuel hadn’t had much on the power play earlier in the game, but the injury to their leader fueled them to an almost flawless power play that ultimately got this game to overtime. 

With the loss, Indy comes away with one point in the two-game stretch with Jacksonville but retains their lead for the division title because of Cincinnati’s back-to-back losses this weekend. The Fuel will have the chance to end the weekend on a high note with a visit to Kalamazoo set for Sunday afternoon.  After that, Indy’s next home game will be Saturday night to battle the Kansas City Mavericks.

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

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