INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel and Brampton Beast met for the second half of a back-to-back at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Thursday night. In the first meeting on Tuesday, both teams played a very competitive game and Brampton came away with a 3-1 win over the Fuel. Winless in their last ten, Indy was still looking for their first win since November 23rd against the Kalamazoo Wings. Brampton came into Thursday night with seven wins in their last eight games.
The first period was certainly an eventful one in Indy. Brampton’s Luke Pither opened the scoring with a snipe over the right shoulder of Jake Hildebrand. The Beast controlled the entire first period with a trap in the neutral zone. Indy struggled to get past the Brampton blueline and that led to a barrage of shots on Hildebrand. By the 15 minute mark, the Beast had taken a 3-0 lead over the Fuel.
Just six seconds later Alex Guptill decided to take matters into his own hands and outwork all five Beast players and open the Indy scoring. After Indy’s first goal, they started to put pucks on net and pressure the Brampton defense. Guptill picked up a loose puck at the blue line and stick-handled through a few defensemen before putting a wrist shot past Bryan Pitton. Brampton controlled the entire first period, put 16 shots on Hildebrand while Indy scored two goals on four shots.
Indy opened the scoring two minutes in with a rebound goal. Ryan Keller put the puck on net with a wraparound, forcing a rebound for Tristan King, who buried the first goal of the period. Pither responded a minute later, completing his hat-trick for Brampton. The Beast controlled most of the period while Indy continued to force shots on the counter-attack.
The Shalla, Guptill and Wideman line was the best line throughout the entire period, putting on pressure and finding each other to create solid scoring chances. Late in the period, Ryan Keller was able to sneak behind the Brampton defense and was able to put a quick, low wrist shot past Andrew D’Agostini, who replaced Pitton after the third Fuel goal.
The third period was as quiet as it gets, both teams went back and forth, trading chances. Indy put up 12 shots in the final period, the most in one period Indy. It looked like the game was headed to overtime and Indy was going to have a chance to end their losing streak until David Pacan put home a bouncing puck to end the game and extend Indy’s losing streak.
Although Indy gave up 46 shots on goal, they played strong again, for the second game in a row. Jake Hildebrand was hot in his first start since being reassigned from Rockford, stopping 41 of 46 Brampton shots. If the wins are going to come, Indy needs to clean up their defensive zone coverage. In six out of their last twelve losses, Indy has only scored one goal and given up five or more.
Giving up 46 shots in a game leads to games like this. Lucky for the Fuel, Brampton ran into a hot goaltender in Hildebrand. Had Hildebrand not been hot, the Fuel could have lost Thursday night by five goals. Indy will have the holiday off before returning to action on Tuesday against the Fort Wayne Komets.