Fuel try to extend home winning streak Friday against Toledo

FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. WALLEYE

Dec 21, 2018
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FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. WALLEYE

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21 - 7:35 P.M.

INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS

TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE

BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COMECHL.TV

THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (13-12-0-0) look to stay hot on home ice Friday as they welcome the Toledo Walleye (18-5-2-0) to Indiana Farmers Coliseum. On the heels of a two-game sweep over the Tulsa Oilers last weekend, the Fuel go for their fourth straight victory in Central Indiana as the Walleye come to town. 

Home ice has been key so far in the season series between the Central Division rivals, with the host team claiming each of the first three meetings. Indy is 2-1 against Toledo to start 2018-19, winning a pair of close contests at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Oct. 20 and Nov. 21, before the Walleye skated to a 4-2 truimph on Dec. 1 at the Huntington Center. 

Forward Brett Welychka (2g, 2a) paces the Fuel with four points in two games against the Walleye, while defenseman Matt Register leads both teams with five assists in three contests. 

LAST TIME OUT: Indy completed a weekend sweep over the Tulsa Oilers with a 5-4 victory Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Five different players found the net for Indy – including two point outings from Matt Rupert and Kevin Dufour – while goaltender Matt Tomkins logged a season-high 43 saves to keep the Oilers at bay. In what was Indy's annual Teddy Bear Toss game, Fuel fans threw a team-record 6,022 stuffed animals onto the ice after Josh Shalla put the home team on the board halfway through the first period. 

CENTRAL DIVISION LOGJAM: The calendar may still read December, but there is already a playoff atmosphere developing in the ECHL's Central Division. Only two points separate the sixth place Fuel (26 points) from the third place Wheeling Nailers (28 points), while all six Central clubs enter Friday's action with winning records.

Cincinnati (41 points) and Toledo (38 points) continue to battle for the division lead, while the Nailers and Kalamazoo Wings (27 points) have surged into the Central's top four. Wheeling and Kalamazoo have been among the league's hottest teams in December; the Nailers ride a seven-game point streak into the weekend (6-0-1-0), while the Wings have won nine of their last 11 contests. 

ECHL'S HEAVYWEIGHTS: Even with their two-game sweep over the Oilers, the Fuel couldn't gain any ground in the standings – since all their Central rivals also picked up points in cross-divisional play. The Central has been dominant to start 2018-19, sporting a collective 37-12-1-0 record against the the rest of the league (.750). Since the beginning of Week 10, Central teams have skated to a perfect 12-0-0-0 record in games played outside of the division. 

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Boasting one of the ECHL's best records on home ice, the Fuel are happy to be spending some quality time in Indianapolis over the holiday season. Friday is the third game in a stretch that sees Indy play 10 of 13 games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum through January 11. Entering the weekend with a 10-3 mark in the Circle City, the Fuel have won four straight games in their own building, and seven of their last eight dating back to Nov. 1.

TOMMER TIME: Goaltender Matt Tomkins continued his strong stretch of recent play on Saturday, as he turned aside a season-high 43 shots in the Fuel's 5-4 victory. The second-year netminder has now led the Fuel to victories in each of his last four starts, alongside a 2.41 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. Overall this season, Tomkins boasts a 9-8-0 record, a 3.20 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.

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