INDIANAPOLIS - Another strong second period led the Indy Fuel (2-1-0-0) to their second straight win on home ice, a 4-1 decision over the Cincinnati Cyclones Friday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Indy used three unanswered tallies in the middle frame - including a pair from forward Josh Shalla - to break a 1-1 tie, while a stellar 39-save performance from goaltender Matt Tomkins helped maintain their lead.
Cincinnati got out to a quick start in what was the first of 12 meetings this season between the Central Division rivals. Pinning the Fuel deep in their defensive end for the first few minutes of the contest, forward Spencer Dorowicz gave the Cyclones a 1-0 edge at the three-minute mark when he beat Tomkins under the crossbar from a sharp angle.
The lead lasted only 19 seconds before Ryan Rupert connected with twin brother Matt Rupert to tie the game for Indy. After pouncing on a turnover behind the Cincinnati net, Ryan found a wide open Matt on the right circle, who snapped a wrist shot behind Jonas Johansson (21 saves) for his first goal of the season.
The Cyclones responded to Rupert's equalizer with more offensive pressure, but Tomkins held his ground to send the contest into the second period at a 1-1 deadlock, despite Cincinnati holding a 17-7 edge in shots on goal.
Indy took control early in the middle frame, grabbing a 2-1 lead when Shalla netted the first of his two tallies at the 3:23 mark. The Fuel's leading scorer from a year ago took a drop pass from Connor Moynihan on the right circle and ripped a shot over Johansson's glove. Defenseman Robert Powers picked up the secondary assist on Shalla's first of the season.
Powers would later find the net himself to double the Fuel's lead at 13:55 of the period. Forward Mathew Thompson won a battle for a rebound, after wide angle shot from Kevin Dufour handcuffed Johansson. Thompson slid the puck up to Powers on the point, who connected for his first goal of the season. Shalla capped off the second-period rally at 18:15, snapping a wrist shot far side to give Indy a three-goal lead heading into the third.
The cushion was all Indy needed, as neither team could find the back of the net in the final frame. The Fuel defense was steady down the stretch, limiting Cincinnati's scoring chances, while a few timely stops from Tomkins helped diffuse a trio of Cyclones power play opportunities. Indy finished the game a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, while coming up empty on three power play chances.
The Fuel wrap up their four-game homestand to open the 2018-19 season Saturday night against the Toledo Walleye, in a rematch of the 2018 Central Division Semifinals. Puck drop from Indiana Farmers Coliseum is set for 7:35 p.m. ET.
Single-game tickets are now on sale for the Fuel's 5th anniversary season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan - grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don't forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2018-19 season.
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