Fuel host West-leading Wichita on Teddy Bear Toss nightDec 9, 2017
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. THUNDER
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (6-10-2-1) welcome the Western Conference-leading Wichita Thunder (16-2-2-0) to Indiana Farmers Coliseum Saturday night for Indy's annual Teddy Bear Toss, presented by RTV6.
Fans are invited to bring new stuffed animals with them to throw onto the ice after the Fuel score their first goal. All the collected critters will be donated to the RTV6 Toy Drive, the Community Health Network Foundation and other local organizations to help families this holiday season. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
Indy is hunting for its third straight win on home ice Saturday, coming off a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night. Goaltender Matt Tomkins logged 48 saves in his first start since late October, and Michael Neal found the go-ahead goal with just over three minutes remaining in regulation time.
After finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference last season, Wichita is off to a blazing start to 2017-18, sporting the best points percentage in the entire ECHL (.850). Holding a one point lead over the defending Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles atop the Mountain Division, Wichita enters Saturday's action the winners of five straight games, picking up at least a point in 12 of its last 13 contests (10-1-2-0). Seeing their first action since a 3-1 home win over Kansas City on Wednesday night, the Thunder are in Indianapolis to start a five game road trip.
Like He Never Left: Goaltender Matt Tomkins was stellar Friday in his first appearance since suffering a lower body injury in Florida on Oct. 25. The rookie netminder set a career-high with 48 saves in Friday's win over Wheeling, including 42 saves through the first 40 minutes of play. In three games played, Tomkins shows a sterling 2-0-0 record alongside a 1.63 goals against average and a .957 save percentage.
Neal And Friends: Friday was a big night for the forward combination of Michael Neal, Nathan Noel and Reed Seckel. The trio combined for two goals, four assists, 10 shots on goal and a +8 rating as the Fuel defeated the Nailers. Neal and Noel each logged a goal and an assist, while Seckel provided his first multi-point game of the season with two helpers.
Century Club: Logging six minutes in penalties Friday night, forward Garrett Clarke (3a) passed the 100-PIM plateau. Clarke's 104 penalty minutes this season ranks second to Jacksonville's Emerson Clark (113) among all ECHL players. The gritty defenseman is on pace to shatter Indy's single-season penalty minute record of 143, set by Dylan Clarke in 2015-16.
Inside the Matchup: Saturday's showdown wraps up a three-game season series between the Fuel and Thunder. The two clubs met twice at INTRUST Bank Arena to start the 2017-18 campaign, with Wichita winning both by 4-3 scores (one coming in overtime). Indy brings a 1-3-1-0 all-time record against the Thunder into tonight's game, with the only prior meeting at Indiana Farmers Coliseum coming in a 2-1 Wichita victory on Jan. 2, 2015.
Scouting Report: Thunder forward Travis Ewanyk (7g, 8a) has tallied five assists in his last two games, and seven points in his last four (1g, 6a) ... Forward Matt DeBlouw (6g, 6a) enters Saturday on a four game point streak (4g, 2a), and has found the back of the net in three straight contests ... Thunder goaltender Joel Rumpel has won each of his last six starts, ranking tied for second in the ECHL with a .933 save percentage, while sitting seventh in the league with 2.31 goals against average.