Fuel kick off weekend homestand Thursday against red-hot Nailers

FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. NAILERS

Dec 27, 2018
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FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. NAILERS

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27 - 7:05 P.M.

INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS

TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE

BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COMECHL.TV

THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (14-13-0-0) return to action Thursday night as they kick off a three-game homestand at Indiana Farmers Coliseum against the streaking Wheeling Nailers. Thursday's Central Division clash falls on an All-You-Can-Eat Night in the Circle City, as fans can enjoy unlimited hot dogs, burgers, popcorn and nachos for free with the purchase of a game ticket.

Indy enters the weekend tripleheader looking to climb back into the top four in the Central, which continues to be the deepest division in the ECHL. Despite a 4-2-0-0 record over their last six games, the Fuel find themselves in sixth place as of Thursday morning, though the club sits just one point behind Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne for a fourth place tie, and only four points back from the third place Nailers. Meanwhile, Wheeling arrives to Indianapolis as one of the league's hottest teams, riding a five game winning streak and a nine game point streak (8-0-1-0). 

Though the two clubs cross paths a total of 11 times this season, Thursday is the first of only two meetings at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in 2018-19. The Fuel are 1-2 over their first three encounters with the Nailers this season; Indy took a 5-3 victory on Nov. 3 before Wheeling answered with a 6-2 win on Nov. 30 and a 5-1 truimph on Dec. 9.

LAST TIME OUT: Indy headed into the ECHL's holiday break on a high note after delivering a 5-4 road victory Saturday night against the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Event Center. Two goals from Kevin Dufour and three points from Quentin Shore helped lead the Fuel offense, which struck three times in the first period and two more times in the second, before the Wings mounted a third period comeback. Josh Shalla (1g, 1a) and Olivier Labelle (2a) also pitched in multiple points, while Matt Tomkins turned aside 27 shots in the win. 

DUFOUR DOMINANCE: Indy's offense has come alive over the past few weeks, hitting the five-goal mark in four of the club's last six outings. A big catalyst in the Fuel's scoring surge has been the play of Kevin Dufour, who enters Thursday with multiple points in each of his last three outings. The second year forward has five goals and one assist in his last three games, while picking up 11 points (7g, 4a) over his last nine appearances since Dec. 1. Dufour enters the weekend leading all Indy skaters with 14 goals on the season, while his 24 total points in 25 games is tied for the team lead with Josh Shalla.

WHEELS IN MOTION: After finding themselves in the Central Division basement on Dec. 8, the Nailers have caught fire over the last three weeks. Wheeling has not lost a game in regulation following a 5-4 setback to Fort Wayne on Dec. 7, picking up points in each of their nine outings since then (8-0-1-0). The Pittsburgh Penguins affiliate has outscored their opponents by a 45-21 margin during their point streak, averaging a whopping 5.8 goals a game during their last five contests.

Offensively, the Nailers have been paced by a pair of high-scoring forwards in Nick Saracino and Cam Brown. Saracino was named the ECHL Player of the Week on Wednesday, after tallying six goals and two assists in three Wheeling victories. Brown enters Thursday's game on a 10-game point streak, tallying seven goals and 17 assists over that span. The Nailers will be without Saracino in Indianapolis, as the forward was loaned to the AHL's Binghamton Devils on Wednesday.

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