Fuel try to stave off elimination Wednesday in Fort Wayne

FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT KOMETS

Apr 3, 2019
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FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT KOMETS

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 - 7:30 PM

ALLEN COUNTY WAR MEMORIAL COLISEUM, FORT WAYNE, IND.

BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV

THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (33-32-2-2) aim to keep their postseason hopes intact with a win Wednesday at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, as they open a home-and-home series with the Fort Wayen Komets (33-25-4-6). Puck drop from up highway I-69 is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage available through ECHL.TV.

With a pair of losses on Saturday and Sunday providing a sour end to a five-game homestand at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, the Fuel enter the final week of the ECHL's regular season with their playoff chances hanging by a thread. A Komets victory on Wednesday night would lock up a playoff spot for Fort Wayne, while officially eliminated Indy from postseason contention.

The Fuel have faired well against the Komets as of late, winning each of their last three games against the Hoosier State rival. The two teams last met on March 23 in Indianapolis, when Josh Shalla scored in overtime to lead the Fuel to a 3-2 victory. Fort Wayne holds a 5-4 lead in the 2018-19 season series, with three of the last four games needing overtime to find a winner. Indy is 2-2-0-0 this season in Allen County, picking up a 3-2 overtime win from the club's last visit on Jan. 18.

Komets forward Justin Hodgman leads all players from both teams in the season series with nine points (3g, 6a) in seven games. Twin brothers Matt (4g, 3a) and Ryan (2g, 5a) pace Indy with seven points apiece against Fort Wayne. Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins has gotten the nod in each of the nine meetings this season, posting a 4-4-1 record alongside a 2.54 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

LAST TIME OUT: The Kansas City Mavericks broke an early 1-1 tie with three unanswered goals, cruising to a 5-2 victory over the Fuel Sunday afternoon at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Fuel forward Mathew Thompson continued his offensive hot streak with a goal and an assist, while rookie Jack Ramsey tallied his first professional goal in the third period. First-year goaltender Chase Marchand stopped 23 shots in his professional debut, while Mavericks netminder Nick Schneider was strong with a 30-save performance. 

FUEL'S FINAL STAND: With three games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Fuel still have two potential paths to a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. First and foremost, Indy needs to take care of its own business against the Komets Wednesday and Friday and Saturday in Wheeling – anything less than three wins this week will leave the Fuel on the outside looking in.

If Indy goes undefeated and the Kalamazoo Wings are held to one point or fewer this week, the Fuel will overtake the Wings for fourth place in the Central. Another possible scenario is if Indy wins out and the Komets fail to pick up a single point, the two teams will finished tied at 76 points – with the Fuel holding the tiebreaker. 

MAT'S MASSIVE MARCH: Fuel forward Mathew Thompson earned a pair of league accolades this week, following an explosive month of March. On Monday Thompson was named the ECHL's Plus Performer of the Month, after leading the entire league with a +13 rating in March. Then on Tuesday, the 25-year-old was named the ECHL's Rookie of the Month, becoming the first Fuel player to earn the honor since goaltender Étienne Marcoux in December of 2017. In 15 games during March, Thompson has collected eight goals and 11 assists, coming into Wednesday's contest riding a seven game point streak (6g, 7a). The product of Adrian College leads all Indy first-year players with 48 points this season (20g, 28a).  

FORT WAYNE'S FINAL FOUR: The Komets are keeping busy during the final week of the regular season, closing out their 2018-19 schedule with four games in five nights. Needing just one point to clinch the club's sixth consecutive playoff berth, Fort Wayne will play three of its last four games at home, including visits from Cincinnati and Wheeling on Saturday and Sunday. 

Coming off back-to-back losses last weekend in Wheeling and at home against Kansas City, the Komets are 2-4-1-0 over their last seven games, dropping three of their previous four appearances in Allen County. In addition to securing their playoff spot, Fort Wayne is looking to lock up the third seed in the Central Divsion while avoiding a first-round matchup with the first-place Cincinnati Cyclones. The Komets hold a one-point edge over fourth place Kalamazoo, with a game in hand.

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