ESTERO, FL – Despite a late push, the Indy Fuel (2-3-1-0) could not escape an early deficit as they fell 4-2 to the Florida Everblades (6-1-0-0) Saturday night at Germain Arena. The Fuel finish with one win from their three-game series in Southern Florida, and will wrap up a four-game road swing next Friday against the Quad City Mallards.
Forwards Stephen MacAulay and John McCarron each tallied two goals for the Everblades, who built a 3-0 lead early in the second period en route to padding their lead atop the ECHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Where Indy had jumped out to early leads in both previous games between the two clubs, it was Florida that struck first Saturday – capitalizing on a first-period power play chance. Defenseman Gus Young lobbed a shot on net from the blue line which MacAulay redirected past goaltender Collin Delia for a 1-0 Everblades lead 9:08 into the game.
The one-goal lead soon ballooned to a three-score advantage as the second period started, as the home team found the net twice in the first 2:20 of the frame. MacAulay tallied his second of the game 48 seconds into the period, slipping a backhand between Delia’s legs after receiving a feed from Steven Lorentz. One minute and 32 seconds later, McCarron made it 3-0 when he buried a rebound from Josiah Didier off of a 2-on-1 rush.
In need of a spark, the Fuel found the scoreboard shortly after McCarron’s goal when Nick Bligh cashed in off an offensive zone face-off at 4:03. Forward Cam Reid won the draw forward, reached around the opposing center and slid a cross-crease pass to Bligh, who beat netminder Martin Ouellette for his second goal of the season.
Florida was able to keep the Indy attack at bay for much of the third period, until the Fuel struck late with Delia pulled for the extra attacker, cutting the Everblades lead to 3-2. A Nolan Descoteaux shot from the blue line hit traffic in front, giving Alex Wideman a clean shot in the slot, which he turned into his third goal of the season at the 18:11 mark of the period.
Indy quickly pulled the goalie for a chance at the equalizer, but McCarron secured the win for Florida with an empty net tally with 50 seconds left in regulation.
Delia, appearing in his third consecutive game, suffered the loss after stopping 29 of 32 shots. Ouellette turned aside 21 Fuel offerings to improve to 4-0 to start the 2017-18 season.
The Fuel were held scoreless on only two power play opportunities – the first time this season Indy failed to tally a goal with the extra man. On the other side, the top-ranked Fuel penalty kill finished 2-for-3.