Fuel, Wings open two game set in Kalamazoo

Feb 10, 2018






The Story: The Indy Fuel (20-21-2-1) continue a season-long road trip Saturday with the first of two showdowns against the Kalamazoo Wings (25-17-2-2) at Wings Event Center. The key Central Division clash is scheduled for a 7 p.m. puck drop, with live coverage starting at 6:45 p.m. on 1070TheFan.com/IndyFuel and ECHL.TV.

The stakes are high during this weekend's doubleheader in Kalamazoo, as Indy looks to pull itself closer to the postseason picture. Sitting in sixth place with 43 points, the Fuel are 11 back of the Wings for a share of third place and playoff positioning – a gap that could shrink to seven with a pair of Indy victories in Michigan. 

Heading into the second game of a season-long seven game swing away from home, the Fuel are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Quad City Mallards Friday at TaxSlayer Center. Matt Tomkins stopped 45 of 46 shots in his return to the Indy net, while the visitors rattled off three straight third period tallies to break open a 1-1 deadlock.

The Wings have won three of their last four games following the Fuel's previous visit to Southwest Michigan two weeks ago. Kalamazoo erupted for eight unanswered goals to cruise to a 9-6 triumph over Tulsa on Wednesday, before edging Brampton 4-2 last night in Ontario. 

The affiliate of the Vancouver Canuncks is looking to fill the gap left with the loss of leading scorer Justin Taylor, who was recalled by the AHL's Utica Comets on Friday. However, the Wings received a recent boost as a trio of standouts – forward Lane Scheidl and defensemen Eric Kattelus and Aaron Irving – all returned to the lineup from injury. 

Watching The Standings: With their win Friday, the Fuel pulled to within eight points of the Kansas City Mavericks (51 points) for fifth place in the Central Division, while Kalamazoo and the Cincinnati Cyclones are tied for third with 54 points apiece. Further up the table, Toledo (66 points) and Fort Wayne (64 points) are locked in a battle for the top two seeds in the division. Indy has games in hand on every other team in the Central, including five on Kansas City and two each on Kalamazoo and Cincinnati. 

Right Where He Left Off: Reassigned from the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday, goaltender Matt Tomkins dazzled in his return to the Fuel lineup. In his first start since Dec. 23, the rookie turned aside 45 saves to pick up his fifth victory of the season. Tomkins appeared in seven games for the IceHogs during his AHL recall, posting a 1-3-2 record, a 4.03 goals against average and an .869 save percentage.

Multi Point Inspection: With a goal and an assist Friday, forward Ryan Rupert (10g, 21a) tied Michael Neal (13g, 18a) for the Fuel scoring lead with 31 points ... Defenseman Robin Press (5g, 11a) has found the scoresheet in four of his last five games, tallying three goals and three assists during that time ... Indy is 3-for-7 on the power play over its last two games (42.9%) ... Josh Shalla (11g, 6a) has registered a goal and an assist in two consecutive games.

Inside the Matchup: For the second time in three weeks, the Fuel and Wings meet up for a Saturday-Sunday set in Kalamazoo. Indy swept the previous doubleheader with 5-3 and 5-2 wins on Jan. 27 and 28, coming into Saturday's game with a 3-1 record at Wings Event Center this season. The Fuel lead the overall season series four wins to two, with four games left on the docket – three taking place in Michigan.

Fuel forward Ryan Rupert (3g, 4a) leads the series with seven points through five games against the Wings, while Kalamazoo forward Josh Pitt (5g, 1a) has scored a goal in four of his five outings against Indy. 

Scouting Report: Forward Danny Moynihan (5g, 15a) enters Saturday with points in six straight games, tallying one goal and eight assists over that span ... Josh Pitt's (18g, 16a) nine power play goals ranks second in the ECHL ... In two games back from injury, rookie defenseman Aaron Irving (8g, 22a) has three goals and one assist.


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