INDIANAPOLIS – Coming into Wednesday night, the Indy Fuel hadn’t won an ECHL playoff game, nor hosted one. They would get to do just that on Wednesday night in front of a rocking crowd at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Toledo came into Wednesday night with a 2-0 series lead over the Fuel, winning the first two meetings, including game one in double overtime.
Winning game two gave Toledo confidence coming into Indianapolis on Wednesday night while Indy was looking to win their first playoff game in franchise history and was on home-ice for the first time and a few days rest after falling on Sunday to the Walleye.
In front of a rocking crowd, both teams came out buzzing, seeing high percentage scoring chances go both ways. In the midst of all of those scoring chances, it only took Indy two minutes to put the puck past Pat Nagle. Indy’s Michael Neal drove to the Toledo net and forced a rebound, which was buried by Mathew Thompson. Indy played a run-and-gun, fast-paced game in the first period, forcing several Toledo turnovers and a few penalties as well. Although Indy was unable to capitalize on any of those turnovers or power plays, they controlled the offense for the majority of the period and led shots 13-8 heading into the locker room.
Coming out of the locker room in the second period, Toledo was a different team. The Walleye took control of the game and forced several Fuel mistakes. With just over five minutes left in the period, two Indy players headed to the penalty box giving Toledo a 5-on-3 and their first goal of the game. After many chances on the power play, Kyle Bonis was finally able to beat Etienne Marcoux over the right shoulder to tie the game 1-1. Throughout the rest of the period, the physicality from both teams increased significantly. It seemed every whistle involved a crowd of players exchanging pleasantries.
The final period started well for the Fuel. Players were rushing the net and turning Toledo turnovers into high percentage chances. That would last until a 4-on-4 breakaway for Bonis gave the Walleye a 2-1 lead. Beau Schmitz flipped a puck up and over the Fuel defense giving Bonis a breakaway and he beat Marcoux on the left side to give the Walleye a 2-1 lead. After Toledo scored the go-ahead goal, their defense went into shutdown-mode. Indy’s run-and-gun offense couldn’t consistently get the puck into the offensive zone. That being said, there was no shortage of Indy chances on Pat Nagle, who stopped 31 shots for the Walleye.
- Indy came out hot in the opening period in front of a rocking crowd. There wasn’t at a massive crowd at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, but the people that were there were loud and made their presence known. Mathew Thompson buried the first playoff goal in Indy Fuel history just two minutes into the game.
- Both goaltenders played fantastic throughout the whole game. Indy’s Etienne Marcoux stopped 34 of 36 Toledo shots. Marcoux was fantastic throughout the entire game; he played square to the puck and controlled rebounds. Pat Nagle stopped 31 of 32 Indy shots, but several of the shots were ones that could have easily beaten a normal goaltender.
- Indy’s power play went 0-for-5 against Toledo on Wednesday, that was the major factor for the majority of the game. Although Pat Nagle made several saves to keep the Walleye in the game, Indy had every chance in the world to take the lead thru the man-advantage.
- Kyle Bonis scored two goals for Toledo on Wednesday night. The first one, coming on a 5-on-3 Toledo power play and the second one coming on a breakaway after a beautiful flip pass by Beau Schmitz.
- Indy’s first playoff series is not going as expected. With Toledo’s win on Wednesday, they take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series and have the chance to end it on Thursday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.