The Indy Fuel hit the two-thirds mark of the 2016-17 season Saturday night with a trip to Kalamazoo, and it didn’t take long for Josh Shalla to reach a major career milestone.
Unfortunately, some old friends rained on the party, as the host Wings rallied for three consecutive goals to beat the Fuel 4-3 at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
Shalla tallied his 200th career professional point by scoring 2:27 into the game. It was also his 99th career goal. But old friend Eric Kattelus, who played junior hockey for the Indiana Ice, had a goal and an assist. Former Fuel and Ice player Peter Schneider added a shorthanded goal for the Wings. Rookie Nick Bligh scored twice for the Fuel.
The loss extended the Fuel’s winless streak to six games, which they look to snap at 3:05 p.m. Sunday when they face the Brampton Beast in the final game of a three-in-three for both teams.
Showing solid chemistry with new linemates Chris DeSousa and Tyler Barnes, Shalla potted the early goal to give the Fuel a lead. Kattelus tied it up five minutes later.
In the second period, Bligh gave the Fuel the lead back at 2-1 by forcing a turnover in the attacking zone and scoring on his own rebound, and Indy looked to extend the lead with a power play a minute and a half later. But on the Fuel man advantage, Schenider was able to score a shorthanded goal to tie the contest at 2-2. Justin Breton then gave the Wings a lead midway through the second, and Josh Pitt put Kalamazoo up 4-2 with a goal 4:04 into the third.
Bligh cut the deficit to 4-3 with a goal less than two minutes later, but the Wings were able to carry the play in the final period, outshooting Indy 14-7 in the period and 46-32 for the game. Eric Levine made 42 saves in the Fuel net. Nick Riopel stopped 29 for Kalamazoo.
- Josh Pitt (KAL) GWG
- Peter Schneider (KAL) SHG
- Nick Bligh (Fuel) 2G
- Josh Shalla has been an offensive star for the Fuel. In 24 games with the team, he now has 23 points – 12 goals and 11 assists. But to reach 200 career points is a great milestone. His next goal will be his 100th. He extended an interesting streak – he has scored the first goal in three consecutive games. He has a four-game point streak active. For Shalla, the 99 goals and 200 points came in 297 career games. Of those, 184 points and 94 goals have come in the ECHL, in a span of 245 games.
- Speaking of keeping streaks active, Tyler Barnes had the second assist on Shalla’s goal. He now has points in all four games since joining the team on Feb. 3, and has points in six of his eight ECHL games (4G, 7A). Chris DeSousa also had an assist for the second straight game, and led hte Fuel with seven shots on goal.
- It was also a big night for Nick Bligh, who tallied his first career two-goal game as a pro. It was his second two-point game – his first came Jan. 7 when playing for the Adirondack Thunder against Reading. Bligh has given the Fuel an infusion of energy and skill at the center position.
- Raphael Corriveau had the second assist on Bligh’s second goal. It was his first assist of the year and second point – his first point game Dec. 10 at Reading, 12 games ago for him.
- The Fuel have found offense in their last three games. In those, they’ve scored 11 goals – including at least three in each game. They’ve scored the first goal in each, and they have deserved better than to come away with just one point in those three contests. Discounting empty-netters, all three have been one-goal games. Their longest streak of scoring at least three goals was a five-game stretch in November when they went 4-0-1 and scored 24 goals in those five contests.
- Schneider’s goal was the sixth shorty allowed by the Fuel this season.
- After surrendering 11 power plays in Friday’s 5-4 OT loss at Fort Wayne, the Fuel went to the box just once – a third-period cross-checking minor on Brandon Martell. Indy was able to kill the penalty. The Fuel were 0-for-2 on the power play, getting both man advantage situations in the second period.
- Indy is now 1-1-0 on the year against Kalamazoo. The two teams will meet again in a home-and-home March 17-18. Those will be the last of four meetings this season between the teams.
- Indy played with 15 skaters Friday night, as Bryn Chyzyk was unavailable. Nick Mattson missed his fifth straight game and Paul Zanette his fourth straight.
Josh Shalla-Chris DeSousa-Tyler Barnes
Alex Wideman-Cason Hohmann-Kenny Ryan
Ryan Keller-Nick Bligh-Matt Rupert
Brandon Martell-Adam Phillips
Chris Williams-Zach Miskovic
BU: Jake Hildebrand
Scratches: Bryn Chyzyk, Nick Mattson, Paul Zanette (res), Brady Ramsay (IR), Cody Sharib (IR)
Next up: The Fuel host Brampton at 3:05 p.m. Sunday. The Beast are coming off a two-game home-and-home sweep of Toledo. Indy will then hit the road starting Wednesday for a trip to Allen and Tulsa.