Heartlanders Offense Stymied by Gray, Fuel
CORALVILLE, IA – The Iowa Heartlanders came out of the first period on Friday tied with the Indy Fuel at one, but Indy responded with two quick goals to start the second period and dominated from there, defeating Iowa, 5-2. Five different players scored goals for the Fuel and Cameron Gray was spectacular, stopping 31 shots. Yuki Miura and Clayton Phillips notched goals for the Heartlanders.
Iowa took the lead just 44 seconds into the contest when Phillips scored the first goal of his professional career. Justin Wells passed the puck into the slot where Phillips blasted a one-timer by Gray to make it 1-0. The goal was the fastest to start a game in franchise history.
Indy responded a little over five minutes later when Cameron Hillis scored his ninth goal of the season. Shane Kuzmeski passed the puck to Hillis, who beat Corbin Kaczperski with a wrist shot to tie the score at one.
In the final minutes of the first period, tensions began to mount, and the Heartlanders were assessed too late minor penalties that gave Indy a 5-on-3 power-play. The Fuel made the most of it, scoring two goals in the span of 20 seconds early in the second period to take command of this game.
The first came 55 seconds into the frame when Luc Brown scored his first goal of the season. Alex Wideman moved along the boards toward the blueline, then shifted toward the center before finding Brown above the left face-off circle. He blasted a one-timer by Kaczperski to give the Fuel a one goal advantage.
Kale Howarth extended the lead to two 20 seconds later when Kuzmeski took a shot from the point that Kaczperski saved, but Howarth was able to knock in the rebound for his seventh goal of the year.
With 2:03 left in the second, Miura netted his fifth goal of the season to make this a one goal game. Wells passed the puck in front to Griff Jeszka, who took a shot that Gray saved, but Miura knocked in the rebound to make it 3-2.
The Heartlanders were back in the contest, but Indy put this game away with two goals in the final frame to seal the victory. The first came at 6:46 when Spencer Watson netted his fifth goal of the year. Watson set up a perfect given go with Wideman, passing the puck to his teammate just after he crossed the blueline. Wideman then made a pass-shot toward the goal that Watson redirected past Kaczperski to make it 4-1.
With 2:50 left in the contest, Chase Lang scored his sixth goal of the year, an empty net goal that finished off the scoring.
Gray finished with 31 saves in his first professional start, earning his first victory as a pro. Andrew Perrot, Wideman, and Kuzmeski each had two assists for the Fuel and Hillis had a goal and an assist. Wells had two assists for the Heartlanders. Kaczperski made 28 saves in the loss.
These two teams will finish off their three-game set on Saturday. The puck drops at 7:05.