Fuel snap Utah's unbeaten streak with 4-1 home victory
Rupert Twins and Olivier Labelle combine for seven points as Indy ends two game skidNov 1, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel (4-3-0-0) handed the Utah Grizzlies (4-1-2-0) their first regulation loss of the season in a decisive 4-1 victory Thursday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Matt Rupert led a full team effort with two goals and an assist, as Indy veered out of a two-game losing skid.
The forward unit of Matt Rupert, Ryan Rupert (2a) and Olivier Labelle (1g, 1a) – paired together for the first time on Thursday – clicked instantly, with the trio combining for three goals, four assists and a +10 rating. Defenseman Robert Powers also logged a two-point night with a goal and an assist, while goaltender Kevin Lankinen (18 saves) was solid in his Fuel debut as Indy shut down one of the ECHL’s best offensive teams.
For the third consecutive game it was Indy that found the net first, as Powers gave the Fuel a 1-0 lead at 14:07 in the first period. Matt Rupert took an outlet pass from Josh Shalla in the neutral zone, drove down the right wing and found Powers creeping down from the blue line. The rookie ripped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Utah goaltender Joe Cannata (23 saves) for his third goal of the season.
The Grizzlies evened the score with nine seconds left in the opening frame when Austin Carroll converted a centering pass from Cole Ully.
It took less than a minute for Indy to regain the lead as play resumed for the second period. The first of two connections in the frame from the Rupert-Rupert-Labelle unit, Matt Rupert picked up his own blocked pass and beat Cannata over the glove just 42 seconds into the second. After tallying the primary assist on Rupert’s tally, Labelle gave the Fuel a 3-1 lead at 7:37 of the middle frame, batting a rebound out of midair while fighting for position in front of the Utah net.
After surrendering a couple of scoring outbursts over the club’s previous two losses, the Indy defense was rock solid throughout the night on Thursday, limiting the Grizzlies’ offensive zone time and second and third chance opportunities. Lankinen was at his best in the second period, stopping a pair of Utah breakaway chances and shutting the door on a pair of power play opportunities. The Finnish netminder logged his first ECHL victory in his Indy debut, after being reassigned to the Fuel on Monday by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Indy’s strong defensive play continued into the third period, killing off three more Utah power plays before Matt Rupert added some insurance in the form of an empty net goal with two minutes remaining in regulation. The Grizzlies came into the game with the league’s top power play unit, but the Fuel’s penalty kill unit silenced it with a perfect 6-for-6 performance.
One game into their first three games in three days stretch of the season, Indy now hits the road for a pair of Central Division showdowns over the weekend. The Fuel visit Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to take on the Fort Wayne Komets Friday night, before taking on the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena on Saturday.
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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