Game 28: Fuel at Fort Wayne

When the Indy Fuel re-convened after the ECHL’s brief Christmas break, Josh Shalla provided the jump.

Shalla scored four goals – an Indy Fuel record – including a first-period hat trick, to stake Indy to an early lead. But Shawn Szydlowski matched that in the second half of the game to lead the Fort Wayne Komets to an 8-6 come-from-behind victory over the Fuel.

Paced by Shalla’s four goals, Indy led 6-2 midway through the game and chased the opposing team’s starter for the second straight night. But Fort Wayne chipped away, getting two goals by the end of the second to cut the lead to two. Szydlowski fed Mike Embach early, then tied the game with his own goal in the opening seven minutes of the third. Szydlowski then scored the winner with 3:18 left – shortly after a Fuel penalty kill – and then added an empty-netter.

Indy will look to snap its 13-game winless streak Wednesday night in Quad City, with a 7:35 p.m. puck drop.

Shalla’s start paced Indy to leads of 2-0 and 4-1. It extended to 6-2 after goals by Zach Miskovic and Kevin Lynch in the opening half of the second. Shalla got things started on the power play at 3:55 of the first. He then scored at 7:58 and tallied an unassisted goal with 3:50 left in the first. Another power play goal 1:06 into the second gave the Fuel a 4-1 advantage. Miskovic’s goal came nearly seven minutes into the second and chased Fort Wayne starter Eric Hartzell. Lynch followed at 9:59 of the period to greet new netminder Garrett Bartus, but the Komets began to chip away just over a minute later on a goal by Brady Vail. Will Weber scored in the closing minutes of the period to cut the lead to 6-4.

Szydlowski had a five-point night, with four goals and an assist. Mike Cazzola, the ECHL’s top rookie scorer, and Embach each had a goal and three assists.

Shalla’s four-goal game was the first in Fuel history. His four points were also one shy of the franchise record set by Tyler Barnes earlier this season.

Making his second straight start since returning from the AHL, Jake Hildebrand stopped 30 shots in the loss. After a solid first period in which the Fuel outshot Fort Wayne 12-11, the hosts began to tilt the ice after falling behind 6-2, surrendering only seven shots to Indy in the second half of the game. Fort Wayne outshot the Fuel 38-24 for the game.

Boxscore

Three stars

  1. Shawn Szydlowski (FW) 4G/A
  2. Josh Shalla (Fuel) 4G
  3. Mike Embach (FW) G/3A

Takeaways

  1. The Fuel acquired Shalla a couple of weeks ago to add goal-scoring to their lineup, and he delivered in his fourth game with the team. Shalla’s four-goal game gives him 14 for the year. It marked his second hat trick this season – he had three goals and two assists for Wheeling against Kalamazoo on Oct. 29. It was his third career ECHL hat trick – the first came Feb. 26, 2013 when playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones against the Trenton Thunder.
  2. The hat trick was the second in Fuel history – the first was from Kyle Stroh, who had three goals Jan. 24, 2015 against Evansville.
  3. Shalla had a perfect shooting percentage – his four goals came on four shots.
  4. For the second straight game, the Fuel chased an opposing starting goaltender. Last Thursday, it was four quick goals against Brampton that led to a change, and this time, it was five goals in 26:50.
  5. At the beginning of the streak, the Fuel were struggling to score goals. After making a number of changes to the forward corps, the Fuel are beginning to find their offense. They’ve scored 10 goals in the last two games. It’s their best run since they had had 21 goals in a four-game stretch in November, part of a six-game winning streak.
  6. Defensively, Indy was shorthanded, as Jonathan Carlsson was unavailable, leaving the team with five blueliners and 15 skaters. The team went down one more skater in the second when Brady Ramsay suffered an apparent injury.
  7. The Fuel got the power play going, tallying two goals with the man advantage on three opportunities. It marked the Fuel’s first multi-PPG game this season.
  8. Lots of records were set in the wild contest. The 14 total goals are a Fuel franchise record, eclipsing a pair of 13-goal games – most recently a 7-6 OT loss to Allen on Oct. 29. The other one was a 7-6 loss to Florida on Dec. 5, 2014. The eight goals against tie a franchise record set two other times, Dec. 9 of this season at Reading and Jan. 2, 2015 against Toledo.
  9. Kevin Lynch made his return to the lineup after a three-game absence and scored his seventh goal of the season.
  10. Forward Tristan King, another recent acquisition, has had a hot stick. He has tallied points in four of his last five games, and tonight was his first two-assist night as a member of the Fuel.
  11. The captain, Zach Miskovic scored his first goal of the season, and his first since March 17.
  12. Forward Alex Wideman also had two assists, his first multi-point game since Nov. 25 and his eighth of the year. He has 12 goals and 12 assists to lead the Fuel.
  13. Indy is now 0-2-0 against Fort Wayne this season, with both games at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The third of nine meetings between the two teams will be Jan. 15 in Fort Wayne.

Lineup

Alex Wideman-Kevin Lynch-Tristan King
Josh Shalla-Alex Guptill-Brady Ramsay
Ryan Keller-Patrick D’Amico-Matt Rupert
Collin MacDonald

Nick Mattson-Robin Press
Matt Stanisz-Zach Miskovic
Chris Williams

Jake Hildebrand
BU: Eric Levine

Scratches: Jonathan Carlsson, Bryn Chyzyk (res), Raphael Corriveau (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)

Roster moves: The Fuel placed forward Raphael Corriveau on 21-day IR prior to the game, retroactive to Dec. 21. Kevin Lynch was activated, and the Fuel signed forward Collin MacDonald on loan from SPHL Macon. MacDonald tallied 17 points in 18 games for the Mayhem.

Next up: The Fuel travel to Quad City Wednesday for a 7:35 p.m. game, then return home Friday to face the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:35 p.m.