TOLEDO, OH – After a few days off to enjoy the holidays with their families, Toledo and Indy were back in action last night at Huntington Center. Toledo was looking to rebound from a 4-1 loss against Kalamazoo on the 22nd, while Indy entered with the goal of winning their second straight game. Your starting goaltenders for the contest were Pat Nagle (14-2-2-0) for the Walleye and Etienne Marcoux (4-4-0-1) for the Fuel.
The theme of the first period was shots on goal, as both netminders were put to the test throughout the time frame. Indy had the first four official shots on goal, but Toledo was getting shots through as well, they just weren’t getting to the net. Nagle made a beautiful glove save on former Walleye forward Darian Dziurzynski on the fourth shot of the game to keep it scoreless, and that lead to some Walleye pressure. After those initial four shots by the Fuel, the Walleye took control and put nine shots on Marcoux over seven minutes, while Indy only managed one shot on goal. Marcoux made a couple of fantastic saves, as he would throughout the night, to keep Toledo off the board. Tyler Barnes had a prime opportunity to get Toledo on the board when he had a clean shot from point-blank range, but Marcoux flashed the glove and snatched the shot that was going top shelf.
Shortly after Barnes’ shot, Dylan Sadowy and Nathan Noel had a bit of a disagreement that led to an extremely one-sided fight. Normally not one to drop em, Sadowy didn’t let Noel land a single punch and put him down to the ice with a left caught Noel off guard after a flurry of rights. The fighting majors handed out would be the only penalties of the first period. About a minute and a half after the fight, Indy would draw first blood. Toledo turned the puck over in their zone, and it found it’s way to Alex Wideman who was all alone on the side of the net. Nagle was able to stop the initial shot, but could not corral the rebound which Wideman buried short side to make it 1-0 at 13:42.
Following the goal and three more Indy shots on goal, Toledo took over for the final four minutes in the first. The Walleye posted nine shots in four minutes and finally hit pay dirt when Austen Brassard collected Simon Denis’ rebound and tied the game at 19:09. The tie would hold into the intermission, with shots on goal finishing at 21-14 after the first.
Fans got to witness their fair share of controversy in the second period, but that wasn’t until the end of the frame. Initially, both teams came out on the attack to try and break the tie. After allowing the first shot on goal during the second, the Fuel gained control and tallied the next five shots over the first five and a half minutes. Nagle preserved the Walleye lead though and gave his offense a chance to respond. Toledo’s offense wasted no time in and getting after Marcoux. The line of Tyler Barnes, Shane Berschbach, and Kyle Bonis went to work and crashed the net, joined by defenseman Kevin Gibson. After a scramble in front of the net, Berschbach was able to backhand a loose puck past a sprawling Marcoux and give Toledo a 2-1 lead after 6:12 of second period action.
Less than a minute later Brassard took another shot on Marcoux which was stopped, but a frustrated Garrett Clarke gave him a couple of extra shoves after the whistle and was sent to box for roughing at 7:02. This was the beginning of a bad night for Clarke. Indy was able to kill off the penalty, but on his first shift back from the box Clarke was in the thick of it again. Denis and Clarke were both near Indy’s bench when Clarke went down hard into the boards. Feeling as though Denis put a bad hit on him, Clarke tried going after Denis with some shoves and an attempted slash, but nothing came of it as Denis skated away and Clarke went to his bench. Then the real kicker happened on an Indy power play.
At 16:58 defenseman Patrick McCarron held a Fuel player as he drove the net, resulting in a penalty call. During the resulting power play, the Fuel went to work and took a shot from the left faceoff circle that started a bizarre sequence. From the perspectives of the goal judge, Indy team, and many fans, the shot went under the crossbar, hit the back of the net, and shot out extremely quickly for a Fuel goal. The goal lights went on, but referee Sean Fernandez immediately waved off the goal; from his perspective on the ice the shot hit the crossbar and bounced away without ever going in. The shot was cleared out of the zone to a waiting Erik Bradford, who in turn had a breakaway shorthanded which he was able to get rip past Marcoux. Indy’s bench went ballistic, and their players on the ice immediately went to the officials to argue their case. The officials went to their crease to discuss the events, Fernandez left the ice to the scoring table briefly, but the call on the ice was confirmed: Walleye goal, no Indy goal, for a 3-1 lead. This is where Clarke’s night ended as well. His frustration boiled over after this sequence, and he lashed out at the officials verbally. As a result, Garrett was given a game misconduct for abuse of officials and given an early exit from the game. Bradford’s goal was officially scored at the 18:36 mark, and the period would end with the same score of 3-1.
Indy came out of the locker room for the third period with increased physicality to get back into the game. Every check was getting finished, and similarly to the second, the Fuel had four of the first five shots during the initial four minutes of play.
Indy got their chance to close the gap at 10:27 when Kevin Gibson was called for slashing when he attempted to slow a Fuel player as he carried the puck. The Walleye penalty kill was holding strong, but Zach Miskovic got some space on the blue line and fired a shot that somehow got through Nagle. A power-play goal he would like back, the puck was slowed but still managed to sneak through Nagle’s five-hole, making it a 3-2 game at 12:25. Indy would get a few more chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Five minutes later Toledo managed to get a three on one break, with Davis Vandane leading the charge down the right boards. Vandane performed a perfect pass fake, staring down the false target and blasting a near blind shot past Marcoux to make it 4-2 with 2:33 remaining in the game. Indy pulled Marcoux shortly after in an attempt to make a late comeback, but after putting two shots on the Walleye net, the game was put away when Tyler Barnes scored an empty-netter to ice the game at 5-2, which would be the final score.
Shots on goal finished in favor of Toledo 43-40, with Toledo going 0-for-1 on the power play and Indy going 1-for-2.
With the win, Pat Nagle improved to 15-2-2-0 to maintain his league lead in wins, while Etienne Marcoux fell to 4-5-0-1. Toledo’s next game will be on the Friday night when they take on Kalamazoo at the Huntington Center.