Fuel return to WesBanco Arena to wrap up road trip against Wheeling

Fanimation Game Preview: Fuel at Nailers

Dec 9, 2018

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FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT NAILERS

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 - 3:05 P.M.

WESBANCO ARENA - WHEELING, W.V. 

BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV

THE MATCHUP: For the second time in 10 days, the Indy Fuel (11-11-0-0) make the trip to WesBanco Arena for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Wheeling Nailers (8-11-1-0). The matinee affair in West Virginia is scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. ET puck drop, with coverage coming live on ECHL.TV.

Making their third of nine visits to WesBanco Arena this season, the Fuel are looking to avenge a 6-2 loss in the same building on Nov. 30. The Central Division rivals are tied with one win apiece in the 11-game season series between the two teams, with Indy grabbing a 5-3 victory back on Nov. 3. Following Sunday's contest in Wheeling, the Nailers will make the trip to Central Indiana for the next two games of the series on Dec. 27 and Jan. 4, before the series shifts back to West Virginia six straight contests to end the season.

Indy's Josh Shalla (1g, 3a) and Wheeling's Kevin Spinozzi (2g, 2a) share the series lead in point scoring, while Nailers forwards Zac Lynch (2g, 1a) and Renars Krastenbergs (1g, 2a) have each picked up three points in two games against the Fuel.

LAST TIME OUT: A hat trick from Matt Rupert led the way for the Fuel as Indy delivered a 5-2 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets Saturday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The Fuel outscored Fort Wayne 4-1 over the final 40 minutes of regulation, snapping a four game road losing streak in the process. Mathew Thompson and Olivier Labelle also found the back of the net for Indy, who received a strong 28-save performance from Matt Tomkins in goal.

MATT TRICK: Scoring goals in all three periods, forward Matt Rupert registered first first-ever professional hat trick Saturday in Fort Wayne. The fourth-year forward now leads all Indy skaters with 11 markers on the season, scoring four over his last three games. Rupert's big night was the first hat trick of the season for the Fuel; the club's most recent three-goal performance came courtesy of Josh Shalla on April 7, 2018 against Toledo.

PICKING UP STEAM: In addition to Matt Rupert's strong outing in Fort Wayne, a number of Fuel forwards continued to gain offensive momentum. Mathew Thompson scored a goal for the second straight night, extending a point streak to six games (3g, 4a). With an assist against the Komets on Saturday, Kevin Dufour has now found the scoresheet in four consecutive outings and six of his last seven, collecting three goals and four assists over that span. With four assists over his last three games, Ryan Rupert (4g, 16a) is just one point away of tying Josh Shalla for the Fuel scoring lead. 

STANDINGS CHECK: Things are beginning to tighten considerably in the Central Division standings as the ECHL schedule makes its way toward the holiday break. Though Toledo (32 points) and Cincinnati (31 points) are comfortably positioned in the top two positions, the remaining four teams are only separated by seven points in the standings. Indy's win in Fort Wayne Saturday brought the Fuel into a third-place tie with the Komets with 22 points, with Kalamazoo (19 points) and Wheeling (17 points) following closely behind. 

THE WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING: The Nailers enter Sunday's contest after handing the Toledo its second home loss of the season on Saturday, downing the Walleye by a 5-2 count at the Huntington Center. Michael Phillips potted a pair of goals as Wheeling rallied for a 2-1 deficit with four unanswered goals over the second and third periods. The Nailers offense has found its stride over the last few weeks, scoring four or more goals in four of their last five games. Forward Nick Saracino (7g, 10a) has helped lead that charge, piling up four goals and five assists over his last six games. 

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