Fuel and Nailers kick off doubleheader in West Virginia


Jan 12, 2019





THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (19-16-1-0) begin a two-game doubleheader with the Wheeling Nailers (17-16-2-0) Saturday night at WesBanco Arena. The first of two straight games in West Virginia is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop, with coverage coming live through ECHL.TV.

Playing the second of three games in as many days, Indy heads to Wheeling with points in two straight games and three of its last four – defeating the Kansas City Mavericks on Tuesday before earning a point Friday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Fort Wayne Komets.

The Fuel (39 points) hold a three-point edge over the Nailers for possession of fourth place in the Central Division standings, though Wheeling has played one fewer game as of Saturday morning. Indy finds itself two points back of the third-place Komets, while the Cincinnati Cyclones (52 points) and Toledo Walleye (50 points) continue to battle for the top spot in the Central. 

Saturday marks the sixth of 11 meetings this season between the Fuel and Nailers, the fourth of nine taking place at WesBanco Arena. Indy holds a 3-2 lead in the season series, picking up a pair of recent victories over the Nailers at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel logged a 5-2 win on Dec. 27, before edging Wheeling by a 3-2 score in the clubs' previous encounter Friday in Indianapolis. 

Defenseman Alex Brooks leads all Fuel skaters against the Nailers with three goals and three assists in five games, while Kevin Dufour (5g), Josh Shalla (1g, 4a) and Ryan Rupert (1g, 4a) each have five points in the series. Wheeling forward Zac Lynch paces all active Nailers skaters with two goals and four assists in five outings against the Fuel. 

LAST TIME OUT: Indy picked up an overtime point but ultimately fell 3-2 Friday night to the Fort Wayne Komets at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Anthony Petruzzelli scored on a 2-on-1 just 10 seconds into the extra frame to give Fort Wayne its third straight victory in the Hoosier State rivalry, handing the Fuel their first overtime loss of the campaign. Josh Shalla opened the scoring for the home team in the second period, while Matt Rupert tacked on a power play goal early in the third to even the game at two, after the Komets took the lead with two quick goals late in the middle frame.

AT THE HALFWAY POINT: Friday's contest was game number 36 for the Fuel, meaning the club is officially at midway point of their 2018-19 regular season schedule. Indy's 19 wins and 39 points at the halfway mark are both franchise bests, four points better than the team's 16-17-2-1 record this time in 2017-18. The Fuel have been one of the strongest teams in the ECHL on home ice in the first half, finishing with a 14-6-1-0 mark, a winning percentage of .690. 

PACK YOUR BAGS: What figures to be key for the Fuel in the second half of the season is improving their record away from Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Indy heads to Wheeling with a 5-10-0-0 mark on the road, as the club embarks on one of the most travel-intensive portions of their schedule. Twelve of the Fuel's next 16 contests take place outside of Central Indiana, including a stretch from Jan. 27 to Feb. 17 that sees the club play eight of nine on the road. 

KEEPING THINGS CENTERED: After using a late run last year to climb into a playoff berth, the second half is shaping up to be another tight race in the Central Division standings. Indy has the luxury (and the challenge) of playing the bulk of its remaining schedule against Divisional foes, with all but seven of the Fuel's final 36 contests being of the "four point" variety. Friday's contest against the Komets was the first of 15 consecutive games for Indy being played within the Central Division. 

OTHER NOTABLES: Forward Brett Welychka extended a point streak to four games (1g, 3a) with an assist Friday against Fort Wayne ... Forward Radovan Bondra has five assists over his last four games and seven across his last six ... Defenseman Ralfs Grinbergs made his ECHL debut Friday night, registering one shot on goal after signing with Indy earlier in the day ... Wheeling forward Troy Joesephs has three goals  and four assists over his last five contests. 


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