INDIANAPOLIS - The Indy Fuel earned one very precious point in the chase for the fourth and final playoff berth in the ECHL's Western Conference Central Division standings Saturday night on home ice at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in a 5-4 overtime affair against the first place Toledo Walleye.
In the process, the Fuel claimed sole possession of the last playoff spot by a single point over fifth place Kalamazoo as the Wings bowed on home ice to the Brampton Beast, 2-1.
The Fuel and Kalamazoo will battle it out Sunday in a 3:05 matinee here in Indianapolis with the winner advancing to the first round of the league's post-season tournament.
On Saturday night, the Fuel climbed into a 2-0 by the 1:06 mark of the second stanza when Josh Shalla scored his first of three goals at 1:35 of the first period and Matt Rupert connected on his second goal in as many nights on an electrifying breakaway flight in the second minute of that second period.
However, the Walleye rallied with three consecutive goals with the first two coming 3:07 apart in the latter stages of period two. AJ Jenks and Dylan Sadowy each fired strikes to equalize the contest before Connor Crisp produced the visitors initial lead of the night at 3-2, early in the third period at 2:41.
Bent on claiming the victory outright Saturday night, the Fuel gallantly responded when Shalla singularly created his club's second lead of the night. The reigning ECHL Player of the Week stashed a pair of goals with the first one, knotting matters at 3-3 at 10:34 and his second to complete his second “hat trick” of the season cannonaded at 17:43, catapulting Indy back into the lead at 4-3.
However, Toledo had other designs. Lifting its goalie for the sixth attacker, AJ Jenks scored his second goal of the night with only :15 remaining in regulation time to tie it, again at 4-4. That set the stage for overtime where the Walleye garnered the extra point on a Patrick McCarron goal at the 1:31 mark with Jenks earning the primary assist.
The Fuel outshot Toledo, 38-28 as they completed the nine-games' season series against the Toledoans with a 9(1-6-2) record, going winless at home 6(0-4-2).
A trip to the playoffs will be the grand prize Sunday at 3:05 pm at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum where the Fuel will battle Kalamazoo for the right to play Toledo in the opening round of the 2018 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Tickets for Sunday's winner-moves-on regular season finale are available through Ticketmaster or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office! 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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