Quick-Strike Cyclones Rally for Victory in Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indy Fuel (33-31-2-2) saw their playoff hopes take a hit Saturday night after suffering a 4-3 loss to the first-place Cincinnati Cyclones (49-12-4-3) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Two third-period goals in a span of 1:28 helped the Cyclones erase a 3-2 Fuel lead, snapping Indy's four-game winning streak on home ice.
With Saturday's loss and a 3-0 win by the Kalamazoo Wings in Toledo, the Fuel slip to five points back of the fourth-place Wings in the race for the final playoff spot in the ECHL's Central Division. Four games remain on Indy's regular season schedule, starting with a matinee showdown with the Kansas City Mavericks Sunday in Indianapolis.
Just three minutes after forward Ryan Rupert found the net to give the Fuel a 3-2 lead early in the third period, Cincinnati responded with tallies from Brady Vail and Justin Vaive to seize the lead. Vail tied the game at three at 6:48 of the final frame when he stepped off the right half-wall, snapping a pinpoint shot above the glove of Indy goaltender Matt Tomkins (19 saves). On the next shift, a point shot from defenseman Mitch Jones handcuffed Tomkins, before Vaive pounced on the rebound just outside of the crease.
Rupert's recorded his team-leading 62nd point of the season just 3:44 into the final stanza, after the two clubs skated into the second intermission at a 2-2 deadlock. Matt Rupert carried the puck into the Cincinnati zone, circling behind the net before finding his brother open in the slot for the one-timer finish.
Both teams struck twice in a back-and-forth first period, beginning with Radovan Bondra's 10th goal of the season at the 4:22 mark. Olivier Labelle slid a centering pass into the slot, which Bondra was able to steer through a pair of Cyclones defender before chipping a backhand past netminder Ty Rimmer (31 saves). Labelle would finish the contest with a pair of assists, chipping in a secondary helper on Rupert's third-period marker.
Cincinnati claimed their first lead of the night near the midway point of the opening frame, scoring twice in just 20 seconds. Myles Powell got the Cyclones on the board with a quick shot over Tomkins' glove from the slot at 8:56, before Spencer Dorowicz fought off a Fuel defender and stuffed a puck five-hole at 9:16.
Indy climbed back to even ground at 16:03 of the first period, with some help from Cincinnati forward Mark Marnell. Josh Shalla dropped a pass to Logan Nelson at the blue line, who drove behind net and attempted a centering feed, which Marnell accidentally slid behind his own goaltender. Nelson was credited for an unassisted goal on the play, his 14th of the season.
Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play Saturday; Indy finished 0-for-3 while the Cyclones were held scoreless on five opportunities.
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.
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