Strong Third Period Lifts Fuel over Kalamazoo
INDIANAPOLIS - Three third period goals spurred the Indy Fuel (22-18-2-1) to their second victory in as many nights on home ice, as they edged the Kalamazoo Wings (19-20-0-2) 4-2 Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,788 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Josh Shalla scored twice, while Kevin Dufour tallied the game-winning goal halfway through the final frame to help Indy take the first half of a weekend doubleheader with the Wings. The two teams meet again tomorrow afternoon for a rematch at Wings Event Center.
Recording at least a point in seven of their last nine games dating back to Jan. 8 (4-2-2-1), the Fuel have taken sole control of third place in the ECHL's Central Division over the idle Fort Wayne Komets. With 47 points in 43 games, Indy holds a two-point edge over the Komets, while opening a four-point cushion over the fifth-place Wheeling Nailers.
The Fuel's win on Saturday was of the comeback variety, as Kalamazoo used a strong start to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Tanner Sorenson opened the scoring at 11:07 in the opening frame, catching a pass from Reid Gardiner in the slot before beating goaltender Matt Tomkins with a move in tight.
The visiting Wings had Indy on its heels for most of the first period, but Tomkins kicked off another stellar performance with 11 stops in the opening 20 minutes. The Fuel netminder followed up his first professional shutout on Friday with a 37-save performance against Kalamazoo, turning aside a total of 67 of 69 shots faced during his two victories to start the weekend.
After struggling to gain much offensive pressure through the first 30 minutes, a power play opportunity midway through the second period proved to be a turning point for Indy. The Fuel generated several quality scoring chances on the man advantage, eventually tying the game at one just seconds after the power play expired. Radovan Bondra won a puck battle behind the Kalamazoo net, sliding a pass into the slot which Shalla was able to put on a tee for his 150th career ECHL goal.
The veteran forward found the net a second time in the early stages of the third, giving Indy its first lead of the night with his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Wings goaltender Keegan Asmundson (25 saves) failed to smother a Quentin Shore centering attempt, allowing Shalla to jam the puck across the goal line.
Kalamazoo evened the score at two just 47 seconds later, courtesy of a goal from Kyle Thomas. The forward took a feed from Chad McDonald in the neutral zone before driving down the right wing, beating Tomkins with a snap shot from the slot.
Making his return to the lineup after sitting out Friday's win over Fort Wayne as a healthy scratch, Dufour pocketed the eventual game-winning goal for the Fuel halfway through the third period. On a four-minute power play resulting from a double-minor spearing penalty assessed to Wings defenseman Matt Joyaux, Dufour pounced on a rebound left from forward Brett Welychka off of the left post.
Ryan Rupert tacked on an insurance marker into an empty net with four seconds left in regulation, picking up his 13th goal of the season.
Indy improved to 5-1 against Kalamazoo this season, with three more contests coming against the Central Division rival over the next two weeks. Sunday's rematch at Wings Event Center is slated for a 3:00 p.m. ET puck drop.
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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ECHL Stories from January 26, 2019
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