Fuel and Wings begin home-and-home series in Kalamazoo
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT WINGSFeb 6, 2019
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT WINGS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 - 7:30 P.M.
WINGS EVENT CENTER, KALAMAZOO, MICH.
BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (23-19-2-1) and the Kalamazoo Wings (22-20-0-2) begin a pivotal home-and-home series Wednesday night at Wings Event Center. The midweek clash between Central Division foes is slated for a 7:30 p.m. ET puck drop, with coverage coming live via ECHL.TV.
Indy and Kalamazoo enter Week 18 of the ECHL schedule separated by just three points in the Central Division standings. The Fuel (49 points) maintain their hold of third place – one point ahead of the fourth-place Fort Wayne Komets, while the red-hot Wings have leapfrogged the Wheeling Nailers and sit just two points behind Fort Wayne.
After a rare weekend that saw them only play once, the Fuel's February schedule kicks into full swing with four games in five days starting Wednesday in Michigan. Indy has picked up points in eight of the club's last 11 games since Jan. 8, including a 3-1-0-0 record in its last four contests.
Since suffering a four-game losing streak from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, the Wings have caught fire, sporting a 7-2-0-1 record over their last 10 contests. Kalamazoo has won three straight games and five of its last six – though the club's lone setback during that stretch came in a 4-2 loss to the Fuel in Indianapolis on Jan. 26.
Wednesday marks the eighth of 12 meetings between the Fuel and Wings this season, with Indy holding a 5-2 edge in the 2018-19 series. The two clubs have split the four previous meetings at Wings Event Center, with Kalamazoo grabbing a come-from-behind 4-3 victory during Indy's last visit to Michigan on Jan. 27.
LAST TIME OUT: Kevin Dufour capped off a two-point night with the game-winning goal in overtime as the Fuel defeated the Wheeling Nailers 3-2 last Friday at WesBanco Arena. Indy rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit with goals from Mathew Thompson and Robert Powers, before Wheeling evened the score at two midway through the second period. Logan Nelson chipped in a pair of assists for the Fuel, who were backstopped by a 31-save performance from Matt Tomkins.
PK DOING OK: Indy's has found one of its greatest strengths this season in uneven strength situations. The Fuel penalty kill enters Week 18 sitting atop the entire ECHL at 87.0%, a full percentage point better than the second place Newfoundland Growlers. Indy has been successful in 25 consecutive shorthanded situations, now going seven straight straight games without allowing a power play goal. Since Jan. 4, the Fuel penalty kill has operated at a staggering clip of 96.4%, killing off 53 of their opponents' 55 power play chances.
HELLO NEALER: As the Fuel prepare for this week's doubleheader with the Wings, they will be squaring off against a key member of their team for the past two years. Forward Michael Neal – Indy's captain during the 2017-18 campaign – signed with Kalamazoo last week, making his Wings debut Saturday night against Wheeling.
In 87 games donning a Fuel uniform over parts of two seasons, the veteran racked up 31 goals and 44 assists, earning a spot in the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic last January in Indianapolis. Neal led all Indy skaters in scoring with 52 points (20g, 32a) in 66 games last season, while adding an assist in four Kelly Cup Playoff appearances.
OTHER NOTABLES: Fuel forward Logan Nelson has registered points in nine consecutive games, picking up 13 points (5g, 8a) over that span ... Kevin Dufour ranks second among all ECHL skaters with six game-winning goals this season ... Forward Quentin Shore is two points away from tallying his 100th career ECHL point ... Indy is 4-1-1-0 in games where the score is tied after two periods of play.
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