Two unanswered goals kept things close, but the Indy Fuel (6-6-0-0) suffered a 4-3 loss to the Utah Grizzlies (8-1-3-0) Wednesday night at Maverik Center. Three consecutive Utah goals in the second period stood to be the difference, as the Grizzlies took the first of three meetings against the Fuel out west this week. The two teams will square off again Friday and Saturday to wrap up a four-game season series, which is now tied at a win apiece.
Forward Tim McGauley picked up a pair of goals for Utah, which won its fourth straight game and stretched a point streak to five outings (4-0-1-0). Kevin Dufour continued his hot play for the Fuel with a goal and an assist, while goaltender Matt Tomkins was strong in defeat, logging a season-high 40 saves.
Coming into the game as the ECHL’s most dangerous team in the first period, the Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead late in the opening frame on a power play goal from Jake Marchment. The forward stationed himself in front of Tomkins and redirected a point shot from Caleb Herbert at 16:32 of the first.
On a power play of their own to start the second period, it took Indy only 27 seconds to even the score. Olivier Labelle fed Josh Shalla on the right half wall, who took two steps toward the middle and fired a perfect shot over the glove of netminder Kevin Carr (24 saves).
Utah quickly regained the lead when McGauley collected an errant shot off the end wall and tucked it behind Tomkins, the go-ahead goal coming just 1:12 after Shalla’s marker.
The Grizzlies stretched their lead to 4-1 with a pair of rapid strikes in the middle portion of the second, the first coming at 7:41 when McGauley connected from the slot to cap off a 3-on-2 rush. Defenseman Turner Ottenbreit finished the scoring salvo at 9:01, stepping down from the blue line to bury a centering pass from Cole Ully.
It wasn’t long until the Fuel began to fight back, as rookie forward Connor Moynihan trimmed Utah’s lead to 4-2 at 11:33 of the middle frame. After stopping a dump in behind his own net, an outlet pass from Carr missed its target and found Moynihan open in the slot, who found the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Another goal in the opening minute of a period brought Indy back to within one soon after the two teams began the third. With puck possession following a clean face-off win in the offensive zone, Dufour took an outlet pass from Zach Miskovic and snapped a wrist shot between Carr’s legs at :56 of the final frame. Dufour’s fifth goal of the season completed his second straight multi-point outing, giving the second-year forward a total of four goals and three assists over his last four games.
Indy had three chances on the power play down the stretch to find the equalizer, but Carr and the Utah defense was able to hang on for the victory. The Fuel finished 1-for-4 with the extra skater, while Utah’s league-leading power play unit was 1-for-3.
Despite being saddled with his fourth straight loss, Tomkins kept the Fuel within striking distance late with 12 third period saves. The second-year goaltender denied McGauley a chance for a hat trick with a pair of breakaway stops; the second one coming on a penalty shot.
Single-game tickets are now on sale for the Fuel’s 5th anniversary season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan – grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don’t forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2018-19 season.