Jake Hildebrand, Fuel Shuts Out Thunder, 1-0
For the sixth straight time the Wichita Thunder skated off their home ice on the losing end, this time falling to the Indy Fuel, 1-0. Fuel goaltender Jake Hildebrand was brilliant in the net, stopping 28-shots, and Jonathan Carlsson scored the only goal of the game with a little over seven minutes left in the contest. The loss gave the Thunder just four-goals scored during the run and was the fourth time that they have been shutout in their last five home contests.
This was a great defensive battle from the very start. The Thunder came out on fire and really controlled much of the play in the Indy end, but Hildebrand delivered some key saves to keep Wichita out of the net.
Thunder goalie Drew Owsley was no less brilliant. He came up with key saves as well as both goalies delivered when their teams needed them.
The first big scoring opportunity of the game came at 12:29 when Ryan Tesink fired a shot that just missed to the right of the Fuel net. Jamie Doornbosch scooped up the puck behind the net and looked for the wraparound goal, but Hildebrand swooped to the side to quickly snuff out the attempt.
Less than 30-seconds later Indy looked like they would take the lead. Carlsson received a pass at the right side of the Thunder net and looked like he had an easy put in, but Owsley quickly shifted to his left and took away any opening, stymying a chance for Indy.
With a little over two minutes left in the first it looked like Owsley would cost his team. He picked up the puck behind the net and passed it up the boards but Matt Rupert knocked it down and fired the puck on net. The Thunder goalie scrambled to get back into goal, but Rupert’s shot hit off the post and bounced away.
The game was scoreless through the first as the Thunder led in shots 12-11. In the second period, the Thunder would outshoot Indy 11-8 and would look like they would take the lead just before the nine-minute mark. Nathan Moon swooped out in front of the net and fired a shot that Hildebrand made a great save on and covered up the puck.
While Hildebrand was the busier of the two goalies, it was Owsley who had the bigger saves. At the 10:50 mark, Carlsson fired a shot from the point that the Wichita goalie made a great save on, but the rebound bounced right to Patrick D’Amico at the side of the net. He fired the rebound right back, but Owsley came up huge again.
A little over a minute later while short-handed, a great pass up ice found Rupert’s stick and he broke in on the Wichita goal on a near breakaway. Rupert’s shot beat Owsley but clanked off the post and out to keep the game scoreless as the Thunder dodged a bullet.
Finally, at the 12:46 mark, the Indy Fuel would take the lead. A mad scramble in front of the Thunder net would eventually see Carlsson poke the puck on net and past Owsley. It was Carlsson’s second goal of the year.
The Thunder pulled their goalie with 1:40 left in the contest, but they could not get the equalizer, and the Indy Fuel prevailed 1-0.
Jake Hildebrand made 28-saves in recording his second shutout of the season. He moved his record to 9-8-1-2, and lowered his goals against average to 3.26. Owsley was nearly as outstanding, stopping 31-shots and lowering his GAA to 3.14.
Following the contest, Thunder captain Ian Lowe gave full credit to the Fuel on their performance. “They outplayed us in every way tonight. We played well in the first, but they outbattled us, they outhustled us, they outperformed us. They earned that win.”
The Thunder are off until Friday when they travel to Allen to take on the Americans. Faceoff is at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier