Fuel Tank: Shutouts in a back-to-back games

  

Since we last saw the Fuel, they were riding high off a victory over the Rapid City Rush on Feb. 6.

To recap up to the present, the Fuel defeated their favorite opponent, the Wheeling Nailers, twice on Feb. 10 and Feb. 14. The Fuel sprinkled in a victory against the Ft. Wayne Comets on Feb. 17 before a three-game series against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

Friday, Feb. 19 — Greenville 4, Fuel 3

In the first of three games, the Fuel hosted the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. In the first period, Greenville took the lead late against the Fuel when right wing Jesse Schultz smashed a one-timer over the shoulder of Fuel goalie Billy Christopoulos.

Trailing by one goal in the second period, Indy’s Matt Marcinew weaseled his way through the Swamp Rabbits’ defense and snuck the puck through goalie Ryan Bednard’s legs for the tying goal. The tie was short-lived, as Greenville responded immediately with a goal from left wing Karch Bachman. Bachman fired a slap shot past Christopolous for the 2–1 game-leading goal.

Later in the second period, Greenville doubled its lead with a goal from forward Joey Haddad, who deflected a puck past Christopoulos. Before the end of the period, Nic Pierog cut into the Greenville lead with a power play goal to trim the gap to 3–2.

In the third period with the Fuel trailing by a goal, Schultz put the nail in the Fuel’s coffin. Schultz tapped in a back-door pass for the eventual game-winning goal. The Fuel’s Dylan Malmquist added a late goal to make the final 4–3.

The Indy loss snapped a Fuel four game-winning streak.

Peter Krieger signs with a professional tryout contract with AHL’s Manitoba Moose

Indy Fuel forward Peter Krieger signed a professional tryout contract with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. Krieger currently has six goals and 10 assists as a member of the Fuel. Prior to joining the Fuel, he spent the 2019–20 season in Swedish Allsvenskan for the Västerviks IK. He appeared in 52 games with the Västerviks and tallied 12 goals, 10 assists and 48 penalty minutes.

Saturday, Feb. 20 — Fuel 4, Greenville 0

On Saturday, the Fuel bounced back against Greenville in a big way with a shutout victory. In the first period, Indy forward Mike McNicholas slapped a shot past Greenville goalie Ryan Bernard for the early lead. Indy doubled its lead late in the first period with a power play goal from Alex Rauter. Rauter deflected a shot from defenseman Willie Raskob for the second Indy goal of the game. Indy’s Mike Lee cemented the Fuel lead with a slapper past Bernard for the three-goal lead.

In the second period, Indy’s Dan Bakala was besieged for the first 10 minutes of the frame. Greenville’s best chance was reviewed by the officials and ultimately determined a no-goal. Having survived a hectic second period, Bakala just needed to hold down Greenville for one more period.

In the third period, Bakala held firm in net, standing tall by fending off eight Greenville shots. Rauter added an empty-net goal for the four-goal victory. Bakala earned his first shutout of the season and his third career ECHL shutout.

Sunday, Feb 21. — Fuel 4, Greenville 0

A new night and a new goalie equated to the same results for Indy. After Bakala shut out the Swamp Rabbits on Saturday night, it was Christopoulos’s turn for the whitewash.

After a scoreless first period, the Fuel unloaded on the Swamp Rabbits in the second period. McNicholas caught Greenville napping, as he jumped onto the ice, corralled a loose puck and snapped a wrist shot past Greenville’s goalie Jacob Ingham. The recently acquired Diego Cuglietta doubled the Fuel lead with a power play goal on Ingham. Cugiletta was acquired from the Utah Grizzlies for the rights to Connor McDonald.

In the third period, Greenville had their chances to come back with a power play chance, however, Christopoulos’s rose to challenge denying all of the Swamp Rabbits’ chances. The former Air Force Falcon stopped all 12 Swamp Rabbits shots in the period. With Greenville desperate to get back into the game, they pulled Ingham, which gave way to two more Fuel goals. Cedric Lacroix scooped up a loose puck for the third goal of the game. The 6-foot forward scored the first empty-netter. The second empty-netter was scored by Cuglietta.

It was the first shutout of the season for Christopoulos and he second shutout of his ECHL career. It was the second consecutive shutout for the Fuel. This was the first time in Fuel franchise history that two goalies earned back-to-back shutouts.

Bakala named Goaltender of the Week

Bakala was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week for Feb. 15–21. He went 2–0–0 with one shutout and a 0.50 goals against average. His save percentage was .985 in his two appearances.

The veteran goalie made 35 saves in a 4–1 win against Ft. Wayne on Feb. 17 and stopped all 30 shots on Saturday. The Canadian goalie is 10–0–1 in 11 appearances with the Fuel this season. He leads the ECHL in wins and ranks fourth with a 2.12 goals against average and is tied for fourth with a .926 save percentage.

During his tenure with Indy, the Calgary native is 17–6–4 in 28 games with 2.30 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Before joining the Fuel, he spent extensive time in Europe, playing for teams in Austria, Germany, Scotland and Sweden.

The Fuel currently have the best goaltending duo in the ECHL with Christopoulos having the second-best save percentage in the league.

Please stay tuned to The Rink for all your Fuel and ECHL news.

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    Sean Fitzgerald
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    Since we last saw the Fuel, they were riding high off a victory over the Rapid City Rush on Feb. 6. To recap up to the present, the Fuel defeated thei
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