Fuel conjure up a win in front of sellout crowd in Indianapolis
Second-largest crowd in franchise history on hand as Fuel pick up 4-3 victory on Wizard NightFeb 23, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel (26-25-2-1) picked up a critical 4-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder (21-27-6-3) Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 6,517 on Wizard Night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. With the second-biggest crowd in franchise history on hand, the Fuel rallied from an early deficit with four unanswered goals, holding off a late Wichita push to complete a four-game set with the Thunder with a 3-1-0-0 record.
Matheson Iacopelli registered a pair of goals for Indy, while Josh Shalla tacked on a goal and an assist to help the home team build a 4-1 cushion before the halfway point of the contest. With the victory, the Fuel jumped over the Wheeling Nailers into fifth place in the Central Division standings, with 18 games left to play in the regular season.
Despite playing their fourth game in five days, the Thunder struck first with a power play goal at 5:36 of the opening period. Steven Iacobellis stepped off the right half wall and ripped a wrist shot up and over the shoulder of Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins, with assists coming to Ralph Cuddemi and Keoni Texeira.
Indy responded less than three minutes later, with Shalla’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season bringing the packed building to its feet. Matt Rupert flipped a breakout pass from his own zone to center ice, before Shalla grabbed the puck and beat Dylan Wells to the short side with a pinpoint shot from the right face-off dot.
Just 36 seconds after Shalla tied the game, Iacopelli put the Fuel on top with the first of his two markers of the night. Gaining possession from a clean draw win from Quentin Shore, Iacopelli walked the goal line and fooled Wells with a shot from a sharp angle.
Iacopelli gave his team a two-goal cushion with a highlight reel power play tally just 2:02 into the second period. After causing a turnover in the neutral zone, the Chicago Blackhawks third-round draft pick beat one defender before tucking a perfect shot into the top right corner with a Wichita stick lodged in his midsection. Held off the scoresheet during his first stint in Indy back in January, Iacopelli has now tallied four goals in his last four games.
The Fuel stretched the advantage to 4-1 when Alex Brooks notched his sixth goal of the season at 7:23 of the middle frame. A Josh Shalla point blast missed high and wide, but the rebound popped right to Brooks for a tap-in finish off of the right post.
Wichita trimmed Indy’s lead to 4-2 at 14:26 of the second when Jakob Stukel found a soft spot in the slot and put a quick shot inside the left post.
The Thunder made it a one-goal game with 6:13 remaining in the third period with tally from Jason Salvaggio, but the Fuel were able to keep Wichita at bay down the stretch to secure the victory.
Tomkins recorded his ECHL-leading 21st victory of the season with 20 saves, while Ty Rimmer suffered the loss in a relief appearance for the Thunder. Rimmer stopped 18 of 19 shots in nearly 38 minutes of work, after Wells was pulled following Iacopelli’s second-period goal.
Both teams finished the evening 1-for-5 on the power play, while Indy held a 35-23 advantage in shots on goal.
The Fuel return to Central Division play next week with a crucial three-in-three weekend; visiting the league-leading Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday, before hosting the Kalamazoo Wings at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Saturday. Indy wraps up the weekend with a trip to Huntington Center to take on the Toledo Walleye on Sunday afternoon.
Single-game tickets are now on sale for the Fuel’s 5th anniversary season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan – grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don’t forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2018-19 season.
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