WICHITA, KANSAS - In their first test of the 2017-18 ECHL season, the Indy Fuel (0-1-0-0) fell 4-3 to the Wichita Thunder (1-0-0-0) Friday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Three quick second period goals helped the Thunder withstand an Indy comeback attempt, as the Fuel suffered their first opening night regulation loss in franchise history. The two teams square off again Saturday night.
After a tightly contested first period, Wichita scored three times in a 4:48 span in the middle of the second to break open a 1-1 stalemate. Forward Kyle Platzer started the deluge when he converted a cross-ice feed from Zach O'Brien, giving the Thunder a 2-1 edge at 9:11 of the middle frame.
Matt DeBlouw - Wichita's leading scorer from a year ago - potted the second of his two goals Friday at 13:07 to put the home team up by two, also courtesy of an O'Brien assist. Fifty-two seconds later, Travis Ewanyk found the net off an offensive zone draw to cap off the Thunder scoring, giving Wichita a 4-1 advantage with six minutes left in the second period.
Indy wasted no time getting back into the game, as Zach Miskovic made it 4-2 just 51 seconds after Ewanyk's tally. Nick Bligh set up the veteran defenseman for a one-timer from a sharp angle, which Miskovic wired through goaltender Joel Rumpel's five-hole at 14:50 of the second.
The Fuel controlled play for much of the third period, and pulled within a one by virtue of an Alex Wideman power play marker at 11:13. Forward Geoff Walker threaded a pass to Indy's 2016-17 Most Valuable Player on the right circle, who beat Rumpel to bring the score to 4-3.
Rumpel and the Thunder were able to hang on for the victory, despite Indy holding a 14-5 edge in the shot column over the final 20 minutes. The Wichita goaltender stopped 35 of 38 shots to pick up his first win of the season, while Fuel rookie netminder Collin Delia made 25 saves in his professional debut.
DeBlouw accounted for the only goal in the first period, pouncing on a Delia rebound 13:24 into play.
Indy evened the score at one early in the second when Walker deposited a loose puck in front of the net on the power play. Wideman and Cam Reid provided the assists on Indy's first goal of the new season.
Walker (1g, 1a), Wideman (1g, 1a) and Reid (2a) all logged multi-point nights in what was an impressive performance for the Fuel special teams. Indy finished 2-for-3 on the power play, while killing off both of Wichita's opportunities with the man advantage.
Opening Night of the 2017-18 Indy Fuel season is on October 21, and tickets are now on sale! Secure your seat by visiting IndyFuelHockey.com, or by visiting the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office. Ticket plans are also available for year four of Fuel hockey, call 317-925-FUEL for more information. Don't miss a second of the action during the 2017-18 season - follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
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