Thunder score three power play goals to defeat Indy 5-3
INDIANAPOLIS – Special teams was the difference Tuesday morning as the Indy Fuel (25-25-2-1) fell to the Wichita Thunder (20-25-6-3) by a 5-3 in front of 5,378 local students during the annual Education Day Game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Thunder scored a trio of power play goals and held Indy scoreless with the extra skater, snapping a seven-game winless skid while spoiling the Fuel’s return to home ice.
Mark MacMillan scored twice for Wichita, while Lane Bauer provided a power-play tally five minutes into the third period to break a 3-3 tie in favor of the visitors. Olivier Labelle picked up a goal and an assist for Indy, which played its first game in Indianapolis since a 4-2 loss to Kalamazoo on Feb. 8.
Playing each other for the third time in four days after the Fuel swept a two-game series with the Thunder over the weekend, Wichita jumped out to a 1-0 lead halfway through the first period. Ralph Cuddemi handcuffed Indy goaltender Gordon Defiel (26 saves) with a shot from the left circle before MacMillan deposited the rebound for the first of his two goals on the day.
The visitors would tally their first of three power play goals to double the lead at 5:23 of the second period, with MacMillan again doing the scoring honors. The Wichita forward tracked down a rebound from a Jared Wilson point blast, flipping the puck over a sprawling Defiel from right off of the right post.
Indy battled back with a pair of quick strikes in the middle of the period, starting with Logan Nelson’s 13th goal of the year at 8:55. Moments after exiting the penalty box, Nelson finished off a 2-on-1 with Quentin Shore with a strong backhand move which beat netminder Ty Rimmer (35 saves). Just over two minutes later, Josh Shalla evened the score at two with his team-leading 21st goal of the season, snapping a wrist shot five-hole from the right circle.
An unfortunate bounce gave the Thunder their second power play marker and a 3-2 lead at 13:24 of the second. A Steven Iacobellis shot from the high slot caromed off the end glass, bounced off the top of the Fuel cage, and dropped in behind Defiel
The Fuel answered back once again with a goal from Labelle with just 19 seconds remaining in the middle frame. The veteran forward chased down a puck in the Wichita end before throwing a backhand on net from behind the goal line, which snuck between Rimmer’s right skate and the goal post.
Finding themselves up a skater following a post-whistle scrum early in the third period, the Thunder connected on the power play a third time to reclaim the lead at 5:01. Iacobellis found Bauer alone in the slot, who ripped his fifth goal of the season through a screen and over Defiel’s shoulder.
Indy had a pair of third-period power play chances of its own, but could not find the equalizer despite holding an 18-8 shot advantage over the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Fuel’s best opportunity came with four and a half minutes left in regulation when Matheson Iacopelli was stymied at point blank range by a pad save from Rimmer.
Stefan Fournier tacked on an empty net goal with just under two minutes left on the clock to ice Wichita’s first victory since Feb. 2.
The Fuel are idle until Saturday night when they welcome the Thunder back to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for Wizard Night. Before coming back to the Circle City, Wichita will head up I-69 for a Wednesday-Friday doubleheader with the Fort Wayne Komets.
Single-game tickets are now on sale for the Fuel’s 5th anniversary season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan – grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don’t forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2018-19 season.
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