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Fuel stage late push, drop game one in Allen

Rupert and Bligh score third period goals in 3-2 loss to Americans; Indy’s skid reaches eight games

 

Photo courtesy of Dianne Webster/Allen Americans

Photo courtesy of Dianne Webster/Allen Americans

ALLEN, TEXAS – The Indy Fuel (14-32-2-2) made things interesting with a pair of late goals, but timely scoring led the Allen Americans to a 3-2 victory Wednesday night in the first of a two-game set at Allen Event Center. The loss extended Indy’s winless streak to eight games (0-7-1-0), while Allen claimed the top spot in the ECHL overall standings with their fourth consecutive victory.

The Americans scored in the last minute of the first period, and then in the first minute of the second and third frames to build a three-goal cushion, which the Fuel nearly erased with two goals in the final six minutes of regulation. Greger Hanson (1g, 1a) and Chad Costello (2a) each logged two-point nights for the Americans, who won their fourth straight over Indy in 2016-17. Costello’s ninth straight multi-point performance increased his league-leading total to a staggering 97 points (28g, 69a) in just 53 games.

Hanson opened the scoring in favor of the home team in the waning stages of an evenly-played first period. Costello delivered a pinpoint centering pass from the right half wall, which Hanson redirected past goaltender Jake Hildebrand to give Allen a 1-0 lead with 14 seconds left on the clock.

It took the Americans only 1:09 of game time to double their lead, when Zach Hall capped off a clean zone entry just 55 seconds into the middle frame. Attacking 3-on-2, Brian Moore left a drop pass in the slot, which a crossing Hall was able to put home on the backhand for his seventh goal of the season.

A pair of penalties just 15 seconds apart late in the period gave Allen an extended 5-on-3 power play chance to start the third, which they converted on to stretch their lead to three just 36 seconds into the stanza. Defenseman David Makowski moved the puck down to Costello off of the left goal post, who found Hanson on the back door for an easy tap-in for his team-leading 29th goal of the year.

The third period ultimately belonged to the Fuel however, who outshot Allen 10-4 and brought the game back to within one thanks to late tallies from Matt Rupert and Nick Bligh.

Rupert broke goaltender Riley Gill’s shutout bid at 14:26 when he capped off a great shift for Indy’s forecheck. With Allen pinned back in their zone, Tyler Barnes made a cross-ice pass to defenseman Chris Williams, who found Rupert in the slot for the finish. Rupert’s 13th goal of the season was his third in two games, while Barnes’ helper extended a point streak to six games (3g, 3a).

Momentum from Rupert’s goal led to a power play opportunity a minute and a half later, which Bligh capitalized on to make it a 3-2 contest with 2:05 to play in regulation. Josh Shalla and Adam Phillips picked up assists on the rookie’s sixth goal of 2016-17, his third over his last three games.

Gill hung on to pick up his 20th victory of the campaign, finishing with 25 saves on 27 Fuel shots. Hildebrand suffered the loss, stopping 24.

The two teams complete their doubleheader at Allen Event Center Friday, before Indy completes a three-game road trip Saturday in Tulsa.

Next Home Game: Friday, February 24 vs. Fort Wayne – 7:35 p.m. (The Giving Game) The Fuel and CHN join forces again, this time in conjunction with Community Health Network Foundation’s annual “The Giving Gig.” The Fuel will be sporting specialty jerseys designed by local patients, which will all be auctioned off after the game. All of the net proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit the Community Health Network Foundation. Friday is also a Fuel College Night presented by Moe’s Southwest Grill – pick up a ticket, $5 towards concessions and $5 Moe’s Bucks for $20 with a valid college ID.

Single-game tickets are now available for the third season of Fuel hockey in Indianapolis at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office or at all Ticketmaster locations. Ticket Plans of all sizes are also available, from Full-Season Plans to six and three-game packages, in addition to Group Ticket options. Learn more by visiting IndyFuelHockey.com or calling 317-925-FUEL. Stay up to date throughout the offseason by following the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the Fuel on Facebook.

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