Fuel close 2018-19 schedule Saturday in Wheeling


Apr 6, 2019





THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (34-32-2-3) make one last trip to WesBanco Arena Saturday night to take on the Wheeling Nailers (31-30-6-3) in their 2018-19 season finale. Fans back in Indianapolis can catch the action from West Virginia live through ECHL.TV.

The Fuel were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention Friday night, after suffering a shootout loss to the Fort Wayne Komets at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Fort Wayne needed one point over its last three games to clinch the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, getting it on Friday as the game headed to overtime. 

Indy looks to end its season on a high note Saturday as they conclude an 11-game season series with the Nailers, who also saw their playoff hopes dissipate Friday with a 5-3 loss to the Toledo Walleye. The Fuel are 4-4-1-1 this season against Wheeling, with the Nailers coming out on top in four of the last five meetings heading into the season finale. The two clubs last met on March 22, when three third period goals sparked Wheeling to a 5-2 victory at WesBanco Arena. 

Nailers forward Zac Lynch leads the season series with 14 points (4g, 10a) in 10 games against Indy, while Alex Brooks (4g, 4a) and Mathew Thompson (3g, 5a) have each tallied eight points against Wheeling. 

LAST TIME OUT: The Fuel saw their playoff hopes come to an end Friday as they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Fort Wayne at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Goaltender Matt Tomkins turned aside a season-high 44 shots for Indy, which needed to win in regulation to remain in the race for the final playoff spot in the Central. Josh Shalla chipped in two assists for the Fuel, while Brett Welychka and Woody Hudson provided the goal scoring. Brady Shaw and Shawn Szydlowski each marked a goal and an assist for the Komets, who won 2-0 in the shootout to claim the game's second point.

AT THE FINISH LINE: Stuck outside of the Kelly Cup Playoff picture, the Fuel aim to end their 2018-19 schedule with a win in Wheeling. Indy finished its home schedule with a 22-11-1-2 record, with the 22 victories setting a new franchise high mark. Indy has a 1-1-1-1 record all-time in regular season finales, with the lone victory coming in last April's dramatic Game 72 triumph over Kalamazoo to secure the team's first-ever playoff appearance.

THE CENTRAL IS SET: With Fort Wayne clinching their spot Friday, the field in the Central Divsion is set for the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Brabham Cup-winning Cincinnati Cyclones are locked in the top spot, with the Toledo Walleye occupying second place. The Komets and Kalamazoo Wings are still in a battle for positioning, with Fort Wayne holding a one-point lead on the third seed with two games to play. The Komets need to win one of their two remaining games to secure a third place finish and a first-round matchup with Toledo.

OTHER NOTABLES: Goaltender Kevin Lankinen was recalled on an emergency basis Friday night to the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks from the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, becoming the second former Fuel player to get the call to Chicago. Lankinen appeared in six games with Indy this season, posting a 4-2-0-0 record ... Mathew Thompson's point streak was snapped at eight games on Friday, after tallying six goals and eight assists from March 16 to April 3 ... Wheeling forward Renars Krastenbergs has scored goals in back-to-back games.


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