The Indy Fuel closed out their regular season home schedule with a 3-2 shootout loss against their in-state rival Fort Wayne Komets last night. The loss officially ended the Fuel’s playoff hopes for this season.
The action got started early on in this contest. Less than two minutes in, Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw scored on a wrap-around to put his Komets up 1-0. Later on in the period, Fort Wayne’s Jaime Schaafsma got caught for interference. On the ensuing power play, Brett Welychka got a piece of a Zach Miskovic slapshot to tie the game at a goal apiece. It was Welychka’s 11th goal of the season. The score remained 1-1 going into the first intermission.
The second period was much quieter, at least to start. It took more than 15 minutes for the action to pick up. The Fuel were mounting some major pressure against Fort Wayne netminder Zachary Fucale. After a handful of prime chances, Woody Hudson jumped on a rebound and put it past Fucale for his eighth goal of the season, giving Indy a 2-1 lead. Shortly after, Fucale got tangled up with Olivier Labelle who laid a hit on the Komets goaltender. Two players came to their goalie’s defense. Labelle went to the box for both goaltender interference and roughing. On the resulting power play, Shawn Szydlowski beat Matt Tomkins to tie the game at 2-2. With their playoff hopes on the line, the Fuel went to the final period.
Save for a Fort Wayne tripping penalty, the final frame was relatively quiet. All the Komets needed to do was force overtime in order to clinch their playoff spot and eliminate the Fuel. They played defense almost all period long and got what they wanted. The Fuel made a major push toward the end of the period, even going so far as to pull Tomkins with about two minutes left in a tie game. The Fuel couldn’t find the game-winner and their hopes of back-to-back playoff appearances are over.
The anger of missing the playoffs was on full display as just eight seconds into the extra frame, Ryan Rupert put a huge, illegal hit on a Komets player. He dropped the gloves and in the scrum punched a ref, for which it’s almost certain Rupert will be discipline by the ECHL. Rupert received a Category II game misconduct for physical abuse of officials, as well as a game misconduct for boarding in addition to his five minute major for boarding. This meant that the Fuel played nearly the entire overtime down a man. Tomkins stood tall and forced a shootout.
In the shootout, Josh Shalla and Mathew Thompson both missed for the Fuel. J.C. Campagna scored first for the Komets, followed by the game-winner by Anthony Nellis.
The Fuel wrap up their season this evening against the Wheeling Nailers. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm ET in Wheeling.
1: FW – J.C. Campagna: 1 A, G (SO)
2: IND – Matt Tomkins: 44 SV
3: FW – Zachary Fucale: W, 31 SV