Fuel Rewind: March 3 vs. Utah
Game breakdown and analysis from Indy Fuel Insider Andrew SmithMar 4, 2018
The Indy Fuel found themselves in what has become a familiar position Saturday night – climbing out of an early multiple-goal deficit.
Indy closed the deficit to one twice, but the visiting Utah Grizzlies scored two third-period goals to stave off a comeback and beat the Fuel 5-2 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
It was the fifth time in the last seven games Indy had surrendered the first goal, and the fourth in which the Fuel allowed the first two. The Fuel rallied to win three of those games, and came back to tie in a fourth. The Fuel nearly did so again – after drawing to within 3-2 early in the second, they hit two goalposts in a minute.
The loss leaves the Fuel four points back of fourth-place Kalamazoo, which holds the final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Central Division standings.
The visiting Grizzlies set the tempo early, launching 22 shots in an end-to-end first period that saw Utah take a 2-0 lead on goals in the second half of the period by old friend Jake Marchment and Taylor Richart. While the Fuel cut the deficit to 2-1 and 3-2 – both coming moments after the Grizzlies took two-goal leads – Indy couldn’t find the equalizer.
“I don’t know what it was, but we just weren’t ready to go,” Fuel coach Bernie John said. “That’s a concern when we have big games and we’re trying to get into the playoffs. The second (period) was a little bit better, but the third, to me, was lackluster.”
In the third period, the Fuel were outshot 13-5. Matt Tomkins stopped 42 shots in a losing effort.
The two teams – which hadn’t played this season - meet for the second time in hours at 3:05 p.m. Sunday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. While they were unfamiliar with each other going into the weekend, both teams are in playoff chases in their respective divisions and need to lock up two points.
“We’ve got to recoup and bring our best game tomorrow,” Miskovic said. “We need tomorrow’s game. We need to keep building, be resilient and take advantage of every game we get to play from here on out.”
After surrendering a goal to Michael Pelech in the opening minute of the second, the Fuel responded with a surge. Matt Iacopelli scored his sixth goal in as many games with a wicked one-timer from the right circle just 46 seconds later.
Indy then dominated, outshooting the Grizzlies 6-1 over the next six minutes Two minutes after Iacopelli’s goal, Robin Press hammered a shot from the point that beat Utah’s Joel Rumpel clean, but squarely hit the crossbar. A minute later, Iacopelli fired a shot on the rush that deflected off Rumpel’s glove and the post.
“That’s part of the game,” Miskovic said. “You hit the post, you’ve got to keep pushing forward, keep working for it, keep taking advantage of our chances.”
Instead, Utah extened its lead, with Ryan Walters scoring 2:23 into the third off the rush, and Pelach added an insurance goal off a rebound – coming a minute after the Fuel hemmed the Grizzlies in their own zone for 90 seconds.
The teams will anticipate another end-to-end game in Sunday’s wrapup for the weekend – and the wrap to busy schedules for both teams. It will be the Fuel’s fourth game in a six-day span, Utah’s fourth in five.
“They play fast, they get the puck up quick, they like to stretch the zone and try get three guys and create odd-mans,” John said. “It’s about moving our feet. I thought we were standing still a lot tonight. It’s about moving your feet, getting on your toes. That’s what happens when you’re standing still. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow.”
1. Michael Pelech (UTA) 2G
2. Ryan Walters (UTA) G/A
3. Taylor Richart (UTA) G/A
1. Defenseman Robin Press, fresh off being named the ECHL’s Player of the Month for February, extended his scoring streak to 11 games. He had the second assist on Matt Rupert’s first-period goal. Press has four goals and 12 assists in that span.
2. While the Fuel suffered their third consecutive loss, they remain in the thick of a four-team playoff race in the ECHL’s Central Division. Kalamazoo and Cincinnati – the teams holding the final two playoff spots in the division – meet each other Sunday while the Fuel play Utah.
3. In the first period, Jack Burton and Robin Press were in the right place to help out their goaltender – a shot broke through Matt Tomkins and was loose in the crease, but Burton and Press both swept it off the line. Utah did score on the ensuing faceoff, a clean win from Jake Marchment back to Taylor Richart, who wired a shot through a screen.
4. The Rupert line cashed in again, with Matt Rupert finding the scoresheet for the third time in four games, and extending his goal tally to 15.
5. Much of the early damage was done for Utah by two old friends – Jake Marchment and Austin Ortega. Marchment played for the Fuel at the end of the 2016-17 season, and scored the game’s first goal and assisted on the second. Ortega, who played junior hockey in Indy, had the primary assist on the Grizzlies’ first and third goals.
6. Matt Iacopelli continues to have a nose for the net. The forward scored his sixth goal in as many games, and led the Fuel with five shots on goal.
7. Indy’s league-leading power play was 0-for-3. Utah was 1-for-2 with the man advantage.
8. There were a few eyes on the AHL Saturday night, where Collin Delia started in goal for Rockford against Etienne Marcoux, who made his AHL debut with Wilkes Barre-Scranton. Delia and the IceHogs won a 2-0 shutout. Marcoux is with WB-S on a loan from the Fuel.
Darian Dziurzynski-Michael Neal-Josh Shalla
Alex Wideman-Logan Nelson-Matt Iacpoelli
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Johnny McInnis
Jack Burton-Zach Miskovic
Jaynen Rissling-Brendan Mitchell
Garrett Clarke-Robin Press
BU: Jonah Imoo
Scratches: Reed Seckel, Riley Sweeney, Cam Reid, Brandon Anselmini
Next up: The Fuel and Grizzlies meet again at 3:05 p.m. Sunday at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.