FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. GRIZZLIES
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1 - 7:05 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (3-3-0-0) look to snap a two game losing skid Thursday as they take on the undefeated Utah Grizzlies (4-0-2-0) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The first of four meetings between the Fuel and Grizzlies over the next four weeks is slated for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop from Central Indiana.
LAST TIME OUT: After winning three of their first four games to start the 2018-19 season, the Fuel dropped their second consecutive decision Tuesday in a 5-3 setback to the Idaho Steelheads at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. A four-goal deluge in the second period helped the Steelheads break open a 1-1 tie, before stifiling a late Fuel comeback attempt. Radovan Bondra, Josh Shalla and Neil Manning found the net for Indy in the club's first-ever encounter with Idaho, while Steelhead goaltender Tomas Sholl stopped 34 shots to pick up the victory.
QUICK STRIKE TROUBLES: Each of the Fuel's last two losses followed a similar pattern: a strong start is disrupted by an offensive explosion by the other team, suddenly leaving Indy in a sizable hole. On Saturday in Kansas City the Fuel surrendered four goals in the last eight minutes of the first period, before Idaho found the net four times in a span of 4:21 to take over Tuesday's contest.
However, Indy has also shown that it is capable of inflicting the same kind of damage on its opponents this season. The Fuel's five second period tallies against Kalamazoo on Oct. 13 is tied for the most goals scored by any ECHL team in a single frame this season.
STREAKING SHALLA: Fuel forward Josh Shalla is picking up right where he left off last season when it comes to putting up offensive numbers. Indy's leading goal scorer from a year ago has found the scoresheet in each of the team's first six games, while Shalla's nine points (3g, 6a) is tied for 11th in the ECHL scoring race. In five games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum so far in 2018-19, the veteran forward has marked three goals and five assists.
BEAR WATCHING: The Fuel's brief swing against Mountain Division opponents comes to an end as they take on the Grizzlies - who sit atop the division standings with 10 points in six games. Utah is one of only three teams in the ECHL who have yet to lose in regulation time (Jacksonville, Tulsa), with the club's only blemishes coming in a pair of overtime losses to Idaho. Indy will see a lot of the Grizzlies over the course of November, with a three game visit to West Valley City coming up on the schedule from Nov. 14-17.
Utah is paced offensively by Caleb Herbert, who has tallied at least one goal in each of the Grizzlies' six games this year. The forward ranks third in the league with 12 points, while his seven goals are second-most among all league skaters.
Indy and Utah have met on three previous occasions, all coming at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Grizzlies have taken all three, most recently in a two-game sweep on March 3-4.