INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time this season, the Fuel hosted a Mountain Division team at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. After falling 7-2 to the Kansas City Mavericks on Saturday, they hosted the Idaho Steelheads on Tuesday night.
The first period started slower than the Fuel would have liked. Idaho came out flying, putting a lot of pressure on the Indy defense.
The Steelheads came out flying in the first period putting pressure on the Indy defense. They were putting pucks on net and causing Indy to turn pucks over often. Overall, it didn’t look like Indy was ready to play come game time:
“It was almost like Kansas City,” said Fuel Head Coach Bernie John, “The first period, first minute and a half, two minutes, they scored three goals. Kinda took the sails out of us. Again, it was the same thing tonight.”
Luckily, Indy’s Matt Tomkins was ready to go at the drop of the puck. He fought off several point-blank, uncontested shots while Indy struggled to break the puck out of their defensive zone. It took until just after halfway through the first for Indy to get their mojo back and it started with a generous bounce off of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum glass. Radovan Bondra was able to pick up the puck and deposit into an empty net.
The second period didn’t exactly go as planned for Indy. The Fuel came out buzzing and put pressure on the Steelheads but a lackadaisical few minutes for the Fuel in the middle of the period led to four straight goals for Idaho. Two of the four goals came on uncontested shots for the Steelheads.
In the middle of the 2nd period, Kale Kessy took a cross-checking, instigating, and fighting major, giving Indy a four-minute power play where they didn’t capitalize.
“Our power play wasn’t good. We’ve gotta build off that. When a guy takes a dumb penalty for four minutes, that’s when you’ve really gotta bear down and put it to work and really work it and we didn’t really get anything out of it,” John said. “You know guys gotta put their minds to it and say ‘hey this has gotta be better let’s go take advantage of this, let’s show them when you take stupid penalties, you’re going to capitalize off of it.”
Josh Shalla was able to get a goal back late in the period, putting home a one-timer pass from Ryan Rupert.
The Fuel came out in the final stanza and gave Idaho everything they had, outshooting the Steelheads 18-6. Tomas Sholl made 34 saves on 37 shots the entire game and shut out the Fuel in the final period of the game on Tuesday night.
“It’s hard to win a hockey game when you only play one period,” John told reporters. “I don’t know if it’s something wrong but it feels like were unprepared but both nights, the last two games, we scored the first goal and just don’t build off of it.”
Throughout the entire game, pucks seemed to be bouncing all over the ice and Fuel players were struggling to string more than two passes together.
“I don’t know if there was an ice problem, a lot of the guys in the league would say that our ice is the best in the league or one of the best so I don’t know if was the best or maybe the pucks weren’t frozen but you gotta bear down as a player,” said John.
Regardless of whether pucks were bouncing around or not, the Fuel struggled all game. They looked lackadaisical and like they didn’t want to be there.
“Everybody was okay. Nobody really stood out. In my opinion, we watched the game, watched the film, everybody was probably average. If you’re scoring one-out-of-five, everybody was a three.”
- Similar to Saturday night, the Fuel scored the first goal of the game. After spending the majority of the first period, Radovan Bondra put home the first goal of the game after picking up a very generous bounce off of the Coliseum glass. That goal was Bondra’s first of the season.
- Idaho scored four goals in the second period in a span of 4:21. Steelheads forward Brad McClure picked up two of the goals.
- Two of Idaho’s goals came on turnovers in the defensive zone. The Steelheads’ third goal of the game came off of a missed clearance by the Fuel in their defensive zone. The missed clearance led to a bouncing puck in front of the net. Spencer Naas pick up the loose puck and beat Tomkins on the stick side. The fifth goal of the game for the Steelheads came off of a Fuel throwaway. In an attempt to clear the puck, an Indy defenseman threw the puck to the center of the ice, giving Jeff King a wide open shot to beat Tomkins on the blocker side.
- Indy will host the Utah Grizzlies on Thursday before heading to Fort Wayne to face the Komets on Friday and then to Wheeling to face the Nailers Saturday.