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Fuel aim to snap skid in rematch with Americans

Morellis Cleaners Game Preview: Fuel at Americans

Game 51

Friday, February 17, 2017

8:05 p.m. – Allen Event Center, Allen, Texas

Broadcast Info: CBS Sports 1430, ECHL.TV@IndyFuel

After a comeback bid came up one goal short on Wednesday night, the Indy Fuel (14-32-2-2) try to salvage a two-game split with the Allen Americans in Friday’s rematch at Allen Event Center. Fans can catch the 8:05 p.m. ET puck drop from the Lone Star State live on CBS Sports 1430 and online through ECHL.TV. For live in-game updates, be sure to follow the Fuel on Twitter (@IndyFuel).

Indy opened a doubleheader in Allen with a solid effort Wednesday, but ultimately fell 3-2 to see its winless streak extend to eight games (0-7-1-0.) A refreshed defense corps helped the Fuel limit the high-octane Americans offense to 27 shots, but timely scoring helped Allen build a 3-0 advantage. Third period goals from Matt Rupert and Nick Bligh brought Indy back to within one late, but the home team held on grab the win and first place in the ECHL’s Western Conference standings.

With the loss, the Fuel remain at the bottom of the Central Division standings with 32 points, two behind the sixth-place Wichita Thunder. After Friday’s matchup with the Americans, Indy wraps up a three game road trip Saturday with a showdown with the Tulsa Oilers at BOK Center.

Leapfrogging the Toledo Walleye for the top spot in the West, Allen (70 points) trails the Florida Everblades by a single point for the most in the league. The Americans enter Friday’s action the winners of four straight and seven of their last eight. The ECHL’s second highest-scoring team at 3.92 goals per game, Allen’s 3-2 win Wednesday broke a string of eight straight outings in which it has put five or more behind the opposing goaltender.

Inside the Matchup: Friday marks the fifth of six meetings between the Fuel and Americans in 2016-17, the fourth and final from Allen Event Center. The two teams will cross paths one last time on Sunday, March 12 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Though Allen has taken the victory in each of the first four games of the season series, the level of play has not been that lopsided. Two of the four games between Indy and Allen have been decided by one goal, with the game-winning tally coming in the third period or later three times. The Fuel have a 1-3-1-0 record against the San Jose Sharks affiliate all time, with their lone victory coming in the 2014-15 season.

Chad Costello’s two assists on Friday raised his point total in the season series to 11 points (3g, 8a) in four games. Forward Matt Rupert leads Indy against the Americans with three goals.

Who to Watch: With an assist Wednesday, forward Tyler Barnes (4g, 9a) extended his point streak to six games, picking up three goals and three assists since being reassigned from AHL Rockford in early February … Matt Rupert (13g, 7a) has scored three goals in his last two games, and has five points (4g, 1a) over his last four contests. One of two players to appear in all 50 games for Indy this season (Alex Wideman), Rupert’s 20 points is good for fourth among active Fuel players … Rookie forward Nick Bligh (6g, 5a) has tallied points in three straight games (3g, 1a), and has tallied three goals and two assists in six games since his trade to Indy.

After tallying two assists Wednesday, Americans forward Chad Costello (28g, 69a) has recorded multiple points in nine straight games. The ECHL’s leading scorer has logged 24 points (5g, 19a) since Jan. 26, giving him a total of 97 on the season. Costello has skated in all 53 games for the Americans this season, and has only been held off the scoresheet seven times … Forward Greger Hanson (29g, 33a) picked up a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s game, notching seven goals and eight assists over his last seven games played … Defenseman David Makowski (10g, 30a) stretched a personal point streak to 10 games with an assist Wednesday, accumulating 20 points (6g, 14a) over the longest active streak by an ECHL defenseman. Makowski’s 40 points this season ranks second among league defensemen.

Worth Noting: With 24 saves Wednesday Jake Hildebrand eclipsed Mac Carruth’s franchise record for saves in a single season (1037), set in 2014-15. Hildebrand leads all ECHL netminders with 1058 saves through 34 appearances in 2016-17 … Americans goaltender Riley Gill has won each of his last eight starts, leading the league in goals against average (2.19), save percentage (.935) and shutouts (5) … Defenseman Travis Armstrong made his Indy debut Wednesday, becoming the 51st player to see game action for the Fuel this season … Over the last nine games, the Americans top line of Chad Costello, Greger Hanson and Spencer Asuchak have combined for 51 points (18g, 33a). In comparison, Indy as a team has recorded 61 points (24g, 37a) over its last nine games … The Americans will be without former Indy forward Josh Brittain, who was loaned to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves Thursday.