Rupert, Delia lead the way as Fuel bite Everblades
Matt Rupert’s power play hat trick helps Indy hand Florida first loss of the seasonOct 27, 2017
ESTERO, FLA. – A trio of power play tallies from forward Matt Rupert and 36 saves from rookie goaltender Collin Delia led the Indy Fuel (2-2-1-0) to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Everblades (5-1-0-0) Friday night at Germain Arena, handing the ECHL’s Eastern Conference leaders their first loss of the 2017-18 season. Indy’s first road victory of the campaign evens a three game series in Southern Florida up at a game apiece, with the rubber match between the Fuel and Everblades coming Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.
A bright spot for the team since the season started, the Fuel’s power play unit authored another standout performance with three goals – each from the stick of Rupert. Indy has now scored at least once while on the man advantage in all five games this season, potting nine total goals on 32 attempts (28.1%).
While Indy’s special teams provided much of its offense Friday night, Delia supplied the defensive support, shutting down the high-caliber Everblades attack en route to recording his first professional victory. The first-year netminder stopped 29 of 30 shots over the first two periods to allow Indy to build a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes. It was the first time this year Florida was held to under three goals on the scoreboard.
For the second straight game, Indy jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. Geoff Walker’s initial shot attempt was broken up by a Florida defenseman, but Cam Reid followed through and wired a wrist shot of the right post and behind goaltender Callum Booth to put the Fuel ahead 2:56 into play.
Florida tied the game at 1-1 midway through the opening frame, when defenseman Gus Young converted a power play opportunity. The equalizer ended Indy’s streak of 16 consecutive successful penalty kills to start the season.
The first of Rupert’s three goals reclaimed the lead for the Fuel with only 13 seconds remaining in the opening period. Walker picked up his second assist of the evening when Rupert corralled a rebound and deposited it off the right post for a 2-1 Indy advantage.
Reed Seckel doubled the visitors’ lead at the 3:18 mark of the second period. A wide-angle shot from Andrew Schmit led to another second-chance opportunity, which Seckel tucked past Booth for his first goal of the season.
The Everblades – facing a third period deficit for the first time – pulled back to within a goal when Michael Kirkpatrick finished a broken play 2:09 into the final frame. But Indy answered back just over five minutes later with Rupert’s second of the night. With Florida’s Josiah Diddier off for roughing, Rupert took a feed from defenseman Robin Press and blasted a one-timer over Booth’s right shoulder to put the Fuel up 4-2.
The third-year forward completed his hat trick with 1:01 left in regulation, depositing a long-range shot into an empty Florida cage to seal the win for Indy.
Rupert’s three-goal performance highlighted a 3-for-8 night for the Fuel power play, while Indy finished 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Booth stopped 32 of 36 shots he faced in the Everblades net, falling to 2-1 on the season.
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