Shalla's Game-Winner Sparks Fuel to Overtime Victory
INDIANAPOLIS - Forward Josh Shalla scored just over two minutes into overtime to lift the Indy Fuel (31-30-2-2) to a critical 3-2 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets (31-23-4-6) Saturday night in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 6,423 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
After hitting a post and nearly scoring on two other chances in the first minute of 3-on-3 overtime, Shalla converted a feed from Logan Nelson at 2:01 of the extra frame to secure two points for the Fuel. The game-clinching goal was the veteran forward's team-leading 28th of the season, matching his own franchise record set last season.
Shalla's walk-off winner provided a thrilling conclusion to a fierce back-and-forth battle between the Hoosier State rivals. Indy erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 over the first two periods, before a scoreless final frame led to overtime. Goaltender Matt Tomkins turned aside 21 shots to record his 26th victory of the season, while Fort Wayne's Alex Dubeau carded an impressive 35-save outing in what was his professional debut.
The Komets opened the game's scoring at 11:02 of the first period when Kyle Hope steered a centering pass from Justin Hodgman to finish a 3-on-2 rush. Indy found a quick answer, as a strong forecheck from Ryan Rupert led to Radovan Bondra's ninth goal of the season at 14:34. Rupert chased down a negated icing call and beat a Fort Wayne defender to the puck, before sliding a one-time pass to Bondra in the slot.
Fort Wayne regained the lead at 2:53 of the middle frame, courtesy of a power play strike from Sean Flanagan. Hodgman notched his second helper of the night, finding the defender on the blue line for a seeing-eye shot that found its way through Tomkins.
The Fuel were again able to even the score before the end of the period, with Craig Puffer providing the equalizer. Mathew Thompson found the rookie forward with an incredible no-look pass from behind the Komets net, before Puffer beat Dubeau five-hole for his first professional goal.
Neither team was able to break the 2-2 tie in the third period, though Indy had several quality chances to pull away late in the frame. The Fuel outshot the Komets 10-5 in the final frame, forcing Dubeau to make several strong saves to keep the game tied. Indy finished the contest with a 38-23 overall advantage in the shot column.
Indy was scoreless on four opportunities on the power play, while Fort Wayne was 1-for-4 thanks to Flanagan's marker.
With the Kalamazoo Wings' victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Saturday, the Fuel remain six points back from playoff position in the Central Division with seven games left to play in the regular season. Indy continues a season-long five-game homestand Sunday afternoon as they host the Central-leading Cincinnati Cyclones.
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.
• Discuss this story on the ECHL message board...
ECHL Stories from March 23, 2019
- Sholl Blanks Rush to Lead Idaho to Weekend Sweep - Rapid City Rush
- Steelheads End Road Trip with 4-0 Shutout Win over Rush - Idaho Steelheads
- Bourke, Windsor Lead Solar Bears to Shootout Win - Orlando Solar Bears
- Oilers Win High Scoring Affair, 6-5 - Wichita Thunder
- Shalla's Game-Winner Sparks Fuel to Overtime Victory - Indy Fuel
- Stingrays Blow by Swamp Rabbits, 7-2 - South Carolina Stingrays
- Rays Score Seven Unanswered, Rout Rabbits - Greenville Swamp Rabbits
- 'Blades Battle to Earn Point in Shootout Loss to Solar Bears - Florida Everblades
- Atlanta's Late Goals Haunt Mavericks, KC Downed 4-3 - Kansas City Mavericks
- Oilers Edge Thunder in High-Scoring Affair - Tulsa Oilers
- Nesbitt Heroic as Glads Rally on Marvel Night - Atlanta Gladiators
- Royals Tie Longest Shootout in Team History in 3-2 Loss to Newfoundland - Reading Royals
- Marcoux Stays Hot as Brampton Defeats Adirondack 4-1 - Brampton Beast
- Mingo's Four Point Night Propels Jacksonville Past Norfolk - Norfolk Admirals
- Third Period Tally Sends K-Wings to Home Finale Victory - Kalamazoo Wings
- Wings Hold on for 3-2 Home Win - Wheeling Nailers
- Growers Win in Shootout - Newfoundland Growlers
- Monarchs Take Sole Possession of Fourth with 4-1 Win over the Railers - Manchester Monarchs
- Marcoux Shuts Door on Thunder in 4-1 Beast Win - Adirondack Thunder
- Railers Offense Fizzles in 4-1 Loss in Manchester - Worcester Railers HC
- Game Preview: Solar Bears at Everblades - Orlando Solar Bears
- Ingram Returns from Crunch - Orlando Solar Bears
- ECHL Transactions - March 23 - ECHL
- Preview: 'Blades Host Solar Bears in Lone Game of Week - Florida Everblades
- Mariners Sign University of New Hampshire Defenseman Boyd - Maine Mariners
- ECHL Announces Suspension - ECHL
- Nailers at Wings Game Day Snap Shot, March 23 - Wheeling Nailers
- Allen Americans Game Capsule - Allen Americans
- Allen Police vs. Allen Fire Today - Allen Americans
- Kivlenieks Recalled to Cleveland - Kalamazoo Wings
- Adams-Moisan Earns Another Call Up - Maine Mariners
- The Anthony Myers Movement Launches at Royals Home Game Saturday vs. Newfoundland - Reading Royals
- Game Day: Last Regular Season Home Game at Wings Event Center Saturday Night - Kalamazoo Wings
- Grizzlies Dominate in 5-2 Win - Allen Americans
- Utah Grizzlies Clinch Postseason Spot with 5-2 Win - Utah Grizzlies
- Steelheads Edge Ahead of Rush in 3-1 Road Win - Idaho Steelheads
- Cyclones Push Past Komets in Three-In-Three Finale - Cincinnati Cyclones
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.