TOLEDO, Ohio — After a day of rest, Toledo and Indy were back at it again for game two of the Central Division Semifinals. Toledo claimed victory Friday night after a double overtime thriller to give them a 1-0 series lead. Looking to rebound, Indy stuck with goaltender Etienne Marcoux while Toledo also sent Pat Nagle out to try and secure another win. Prior to the game, Connor Crisp and Garrett Clarke were both suspended from game two due to their respective actions in game one.
Indy got a couple of early shots on Nagle, but after that, the Toledo offense took over in the first ten minutes of the game. Marcoux was hounded by multiple hungry Walleye forwards looking to get off to another strong start like the previous contest. A familiar face for the netminder would return to haunt him once again after 8:06 of play. Continuing his hot streak, Christian Hilbrich got the Huntington Center rocking with his third playoff goal by going top shelf stick side to give Toledo a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes after the goal, Matt Rupert would get called for the game’s first penalty. Toledo failed to capitalize on the man advantage though, and afterward, back and forth hockey would carry until the end of the period. With three seconds before intermission, however, Dylan Sadowy and Matt Rupert would get tangled up in front of Marcoux which would end as a wrestling match. Both men received roughing calls, but Sadowy would get the extra two minutes for interference to give Indy it’s first power play that would carry over to the second.
As the second period began, the Fuel power play unit went to work. They were able to get Nagle moving in the crease, which would ultimately result in a goal. Johnny McInnis was in the right place at the right time as a rebound deflected off of Ryan Obuchowski’s skate right to his stick for the easy tap-in goal.
Shortly after the first Fuel goal, both teams would have a skater sent to the box to give 4-on-4 hockey. During this period, Indy would strike again when Jack Burton ripped a shot from the faceoff circle. Teammate Nathan Noel would glide into the crease and cause the shot to bounce into the net past Nagle, and within three minutes of second-period action, Indy would capture a 2-1 lead.
For the next ten minutes of play, Indy would dominate the pace, as Toledo had lost the wind from its sails. Nagle and his teammates would weather the storm and regain their composure as the period went on. As the period neared its end, Toledo had recovered and began to pressure Marcoux once again. After battling into the zone, Austen Brassard would pass the puck to Patrick McCarron who let one rip from the faceoff circle. Colin Jacobs would then successfully tip the shot past Marcoux to tie the game and bring the crowd back to life in Toledo.
Once again Toledo would be on the wrong side of a late penalty as Brassard earned a trip to the box with 1:07 left in the second. Indy couldn’t do anything before time expired, however, so both teams headed off for a breather before the third.
Toledo flipped the script on Indy to start the third. After killing off the penalty, Toledo would get an odd-man rush back down the ice with the Barnes-Hilbrich-Bonis trio leading the charge. In a beautiful tic-tac-toe play, the puck started at Bonis, went to Barnes, who sent it through the slot to a waiting Hilbrich for an open net goal to put Toledo out from 3-2 after a minute and a half of third-period action.
The Fuel would once again respond with some fantastic offensive zone pressure. Again and again, Nagle was tested by Indy’s best shooters, but the grizzled veteran held his ground and maintained the Walleye lead. With a little over five minutes left in the period, more 4-on-4 hockey would occur due to off-setting penalties from Colin Jacobs and Michael Neal. After those penalties expired is when Brassard made his presence known, as he was able to beat a sprawling Marcoux as he was being pushed from behind to make it 4-2 Toledo with less than two and a half minutes remaining.
Indy refused to give up though. Pulling Marcoux with more than two minutes remaining, they peppered Nagle but found no success until Obuchowski was called for delay of game with 1:14 left in regulation. On the following 6-on-4 power play Indy would draw to within one as Ryan Rupert scored an unassisted goal with 40 seconds remaining.
That would be all the magic Indy could muster though, as time would expire to secure a 4-3 Toledo victory and give the Western Conference’s top seed a 2-0 series lead in the series.
Through the first two games, the star player has undoubtedly been Christian Hilbrich, who has managed to score four goals. Honorable mentions go to his linemates, Tyler Barnes and Kyle Bonis. Together they have four, six, and five points respectively as Toledo heads to Indy to continue the series on Wednesday night.