After winning seven of their last ten games, the Indy Fuel came into their final weekend with their heads held high and looking to play spoiler against the Toledo Walleye. Coming into Friday’s game the Walleye only needed three points to clinch the ECHL regular season title.
Friday night didn’t exactly start the way the Fuel would have liked. The fast pace of the Toledo Walleye controlled the Fuel for the majority of the first period, leading to a 1-0 deficit. A quick breakout led to an odd-man rush for the Walleye and Alex Globke beat Fuel goaltender Jake Hildebrand short side to give Toledo the early lead.
Alex Wideman took things into his own hands three minutes later on a one-on-one and beat Cal Heeter blocker side with a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot. Three minutes after that, the Walleye had a response. A bouncing puck came to Shane Berschbach, who made a quick pass to Kyle Bonis for a one-timer goal.
The Walleye took the lead into the locker room and came out with the same intensity in the second period, leading to the Fuel taking trips to the penalty box. For all but one power play, Hildebrand and the Fuel stood tall. At the end of a power play a Nolan Zajac wrist shot beat a screened Hildebrand to double the Walleye lead.
The Indy Fuel didn’t give up after the third Walleye goal. Instead, the team battled back and cut the lead down Austin Hervey picked up a loose puck and beat Heeter for his first goal of the season and his first professional goal.
For the rest of the game, the Fuel poured on the shots and did everything they could to put pucks past Heeter but nothing seemed to work. Toledo’s speed and chemistry showed and clearly put Indy in shambles in the defensive zone at times. As they have the last ten games though, the Fuel never gave up and continued to battle until the final horn.
The Indy Fuel lost to a very strong Toledo Walley team on Friday night. Hildebrand did everything he could to keep pucks out of the net but a few defensive zone mishaps led to pucks in the back of the Fuel net.
The Fuel will finish their season in Toledo on Saturday night. This season has been a difficult one but the last ten games showed a resilient Fuel team that wanted to battle and play spoiler for the remainder of their games after being eliminated from the playoffs. If the Fuel can win in regulation on Saturday, they will spoil the chances of Toledo clinching the Brabham Cup.