The Fuel picked up two more wins this past week to push their record to 8–1–0.
Friday, Jan. 9 — Fuel 6, Greenville Swamp Rabbits 5
After starting the season playing only the Wheeling Nailers and the Kansas City Mavericks, the Fuel got their first look at the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in their initial game of a home at home series. Indy would tally their seventh win of the season in an 11-goal overtime thriller.
In the first period, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits jumped on the score sheet early. Greenville right wing Greg Meireles capitalized on a costly neutral zone turnover by the Fuel, snapping off a wrist shot that beat Indy netminder Tom Aubrun for the first goal of the game.
In a little less than a minute, the Fuel knotted the score at 1–1. Forward Seamus Malone danced around the net and found forward Spencer Watson, who buried a shot past Swamp Rabbits goalie Ryan Bednard for the tying goal.
The score remained knotted for three minutes until the Fuel gave up a dreaded shorthanded goal. Greenville defenseman Karch Bachman retrieved the puck in his own zone and flew by the Fuel for the tally. Indy would not let their deficit stand for long, though, as Fuel forward Alex Rauter whistled a shot from the point that was deflected in by teammate DJ Busdeker to once again level the scoreboard, this time at 2–2.
With the goalscoring becoming fast and frantic, the Swamp Rabbits responded less than a minute later with the center Nick Poehling pushing a backhanded shot past Aubrun for the lead yet again. Poehling was assisted by his twin brother, Jack Poehling. The Poehling twins signed with the Ontario Reign out of St. Cloud State after finishing up their college careers. Both were assigned to Greenville to start the ECHL season. The wild first ended with the Swamp Rabbits leading 3–2 over the Fuel.
In the second period, the Fuel struck first, as Watson undressed a Swamp Rabbits defenseman and then found Willie Raskob for the slap shot goal. Immediately following the Raskob goal, forward Peter Krieger pulled a puck off the boards and feathered a pass to Nic Pierog for the top-shelf goal. Later in the period, Greenville’s Liam Peracario tied the game at 4–4 with a shot past Aubrun.
In the third period, Watson blasted a slap shot past Bednard from the point. That was Watson’s second goal of the game and third point of the night, putting Indy back on top at 5–4. But, Indy then committed a late-game penalty. Greenville capitalized on the Fuel mistake and tied the game at 5–5. In the overtime frame, Rauter found forward Matt Marcinew for the game winner. It was the Fuel’s fifth overtime win on the season, as they remain unbeaten at home.
Saturday, Jan. 10 — Fuel 3, Greenville Swamp Rabbits 2
In the back half of the home-and-home series, the Fuel needed two late goals to tie the game and another overtime strike to seal the victory. However, this game was a stark contrast to the previous night’s wild ride.
In the first period, the Fuel squandered a great shot from Krieger, arguably the best opportunity of the frame. With neither team capitalizing on power plays, the Fuel and Swamp Rabbits remained scoreless after the stanza.
In the second period, the Fuel decided to let goalie Dan Bakala go through some target practice, as he saw 20 shots in the frame. Bakala did his best to keep Greenville off the scoresheet, however, with two minutes to play in the second the dam finally broke. Swamp Rabbits forward Max Zimmer found a hole in the Fuel defense and rocketed a shot past Bakala for the 1–0 lead.
In the third period, with the Fuel trailing by one, Swamp Rabbits center Matt Wedman fired a backhand shot that was pushed aside by Bakala, but Wedman had the wherewithal to scoop up the rebound and score, doubling the gap to 2–0. With time ticking away on the Fuel, Marcinew cleaned up a nice rebound for Indy’s first goal of the game to cut the score to 2–1. Seconds later, Watson put on his superman cape and scored the equalizer, ending regulation at 2–2.
With overtime becoming a regular occurrence, Pierog tapped in a rebound for an Indy victory. It was the fifth overtime win in eight games for the Fuel.
Marcinew wins Inglasco ECHL player of the Week
Marcinew won Inglasco ECHL Player of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 4–10, his second time receiving the award this season. Marcinew tallied three goals, including a pair of game-winning goals and four assists, in the pair of games against Greenville.
The Alberta native is now tied for fifth in the ECHL with 12 points in nine games this season.
Derek Barach signs with AHL’s Texas Stars
With the AHL season starting soon, the veteran Fuel team was bound to lose players. The losses commenced on Wednesday, as Derek Barach signed a deal with the Texas Stars. Barach signed with the Fuel this offseason after splitting the 2019–20 season between the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and ECHL Jacksonville IceMen.
Barach had three goals and four assists with the Fuel in seven games this season.
ECHL Adding Two New Franchises in 2021–22: Coralville, Iowa, and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
The ECHL Board of Governors has approved the expansion applications for Coralville, Iowa, and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The two new franchises will enter play in the 2021–22 season. The owner of both franchises will be Dean MacDonald of Decon Sports and Entertainment. MacDonald also owns the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL.
The Fuel resume play on Friday, Jan. 15 against the Wheeling Nailers. Please stay tuned to The Rink for all your Fuel and ECHL news.