INDIANAPOLIS – The regular season is underway in the ECHL, and it is as exciting as it gets for hockey fans all around. The Indy Fuel headed to Wichita to face the Thunder in their first two games of the 2017-18 season. Things didn’t go as planned, but not all is bad in Indianapolis. There was a lot of good that came out of this weekend for the Fuel.
Although the Fuel lost both games, the bright side is the team only lost by a goal in each game. Friday night saw a resilient Fuel team comeback from a 4-1 deficit. The power play was strong, and players were clicking on the ice. Alex Wideman picked up a goal and two assists on the weekend, the goal and one assist coming on the power play on Friday night. Geoff Walker clicked with Wideman for a goal on the power play as well.
Six different players have scored all six Indy goals so far this season. One of them coming on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play on Saturday night. The Fuel had several chances to close the game on Saturday night in overtime but just couldn’t seem to put the puck in the net.
— Indy Fuel (@IndyFuel) October 15, 2017
Shots on Shots on Shots…
One thing that came out of this weekend was the number of shots that the Fuel took this weekend. During media day, head coach Bernie John mentioned that he wanted the team to take more shots. “We want to average 35-40 shots per game, and then we want to get to the dirty areas to score goals.”
Both nights, the Fuel had over 30 shots on both nights, tallying 14 shots in the final period on Friday night and outshooting Wichita 22-5 in the first half of Saturday night’s contest (thanks in no small part to five power plays, including a five-on-three man-advantage.)
As a big stats person and a former hockey player, the more shots you put on goal, the better chance you have to score. Indy is without a doubt, a team that can drive to the net and force rebounds. If Indy continues to put 30 to 40 shots on net per game, goals and the wins will come.
Defensive breakdowns and turnovers caused several of the goals against Indy this weekend. In Friday night’s game, a neutral zone breakdown and players not picking up their man on a three-on-three led to the first goal while a blind pass in the offensive zone led to a flat-footed defenseman being beat for a 2-on-1. Saturday night’s overtime goal came from a missed pass in the neutral zone leading to a quick counter by Wichita. Goaltender Collin Delia was left out to dry on several goals. These things happen in the first couple games of the season and whether the teams capitalize on those is what leads to wins.
Good news is, the Fuel picked up a point this weekend from the overtime loss. It was only the first two games of the season, and the Fuel can easily rebound. The team was resilient, coming back from being down 4-1 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday night to force overtime. Saturday night, Indy had some chances to win the game late in regulation and in overtime, but couldn’t capitalize.
In both games, Delia looked a little shaky and gave up a few dangerous rebounds as well. No reason to panic, there is still plenty of time for the Fuel to regroup and get back on the winning track.
Indy only has one game this weekend. They will host the Tulsa Oilers on Friday night in their home opener at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.