INDIANAPOLIS - A five-goal second period propelled the Indy Fuel (1-1-0-0) to their first victory of the 2018-19 season, as they downed the Kalamazoo Wings (0-1-0-0) 8-4 Saturday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Three-point nights from forwards Ryan (2g, 1a) and Matt (3a) Rupert, and five special teams goals led the way for Indy, which split its season opening doubleheader on home ice.
Eleven different Fuel players found the scoresheet as Indy matched a franchise high with eight goals - all coming on just 19 shots on goal. In addition to the big performances from the Rupert twins, the Fuel showed their offensive depth as Olivier Labelle (2g), Mathew Thompson (1g, 1a), Kevin Dufour (2a) and Josh Shalla (2a) all tallied multiple points as well.
After Wings forward Justin Taylor scored early in the second period to give the visitors a 3-1 lead, Indy's quick-strike offense took over. The Fuel scored on five of their first six shots of the second period - all in a span of 7:18 - to turn the two-goal deficit into a three goal lead. The rally started just 21 seconds after Taylor's goal, when Labelle finished a one-timer in the slot to pull Indy back to within one.
The Fuel broke the game wide open with a pair of two-goal bursts, all coming via special teams. Rookie forward Connor Moynihan and Ryan Rupert tallied shorthanded goals on the same Fuel penalty to spot Indy a 4-3 lead, before a 5-on-3 power play for Indy led to goals from Rupert and Brett Welychka just 33 seconds apart. The five-goal deluge gave Indy a 6-3 edge before the midway point of the second period, ending the night of Wings netminder Jake Hildebrand (5 saves on 11 shots).
Kyle Thomas brought Kalamazoo back to within a pair late in the second frame, but the Fuel put the game away with another two-goal volley midway through the third period. Labelle knocked in a rebound at the doorstep to put Indy up 7-4 with 6:13 left in regulation, before Thompson logged an early bid for goal of the year just 26 seconds later. Entering the zone with speed, the rookie forward pulled the puck around a pair of Wings defenders before tucking a backhand shot behind relief netminder Keegan Asmundson (6 saves) for his first goal of the season.
The two teams traded goals in the first period, beginning when Kalamazoo defenseman Jagger Dirk beat Matt Tomkins from a shallow angle to give the Wings an early 1-0 lead. Fuel forward Logan Nelson answered at 6:40, firing a shot from the right circle over Hildebrand's glove. Kalamazoo took a 2-1 advantage into the first intermission when Chris Collins picked up a shorthanded goal.
Collins' goal was the only blemish on a sterling night for Indy's special team units. After being held scoreless in Friday's Opening Night loss to Fort Wayne, the Fuel power play responded by scoring three times on four chances, while Indy's penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 while scoring two goals of their own.
Tomkins picked up his first victory of the season for the Fuel, stopping 25 of 29 shots including nine of nine in the third period.
Opening the season with six of its first seven games on home ice, Indy returns to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for another doubleheader next weekend. The Fuel take on the Cincinnati Cyclones Friday night, before welcoming the Toledo Walleye Saturday for a rematch of the Central Division Semifinals from this April.
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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