FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT KOMETS
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2 - 8:00 P.M.
ALLEN COUNTY WAR MEMORIAL COLISEUM, FORT WAYNE, IND.
BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: After snapping a two-game losing skid on Thursday night, the Indy Fuel (4-3-0-0) continue a three-in-three weekend with their first trip of the season to Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and a Friday night tilt with the Fort Wayne Komets (1-5-0-0). The first of three straight road tests for Indy is slated for an 8 p.m. start, with coverage available through ECHL.TV.
The Fuel look to even the season series against their Hoosier State rival in the second of 11 meetings on the 2018-19 schedule - the first of five coming from Allen County. The two teams last met each other on October 12 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, as the Komets eked by Indy by a 3-1 count on the first night of the regular season.
LAST TIME OUT: Indy issued the Utah Grizzlies their first regulation setback of the season on Thursday with an impressive 4-1 victory to close a quick two-game homestand in Central Indiana. Looking to bounce back from a tough loss on Tuesday against the top-ranked team in the Mountain Division, the Fuel delivered one of their best performances to date, never trailing while improving their home record to 4-2 on the season.
Matt Rupert broke a 1-1 tie with the eventual game-winning tally early in the second period, part of a three point performance (2g, 1a). Robert Powers and Olivier Labelle also chipped in a goal and an assist, while goaltender Kevin Lankinen (18 saves) was solid in his Indy debut.
OLIVIER AND COMPANY: After splitting the first few weeks of the season playing alongside forwards Brett Welychka and Josh Shalla, Matt and Ryan Rupert had a new linemate on Thursday in veteran Olivier Labelle. The trio had themselves a night, combining for three goals, four assists and a whopping +10 rating. Labelle and Matt Rupert each finished the night with a +4 rating, the best single-game performances since Michael Neal posted a +5 in a 7-4 win in Toledo on March 11, 2018.
HELLO KEVIN: In his Fuel debut after being reassigned from the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, goaltender Kevin Lankinen certainly made a good first impression. The netminder helped silence one of the ECHL's top offensive attacks with an 18-save outing, including a handful of stops on breakaways and odd man situations. A native of Helsinki, Finland, Lankinen signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in May, and appeared in a pair of AHL games for the IceHogs before finding his way to Indy.
SHUTDOWN SQUAD: After falling victim to a couple of quick scoring bursts from opponents during their two-game skid, the Fuel defense was in control from the drop of the puck in Thursday's win over Utah. Indy held Grizzlies forwards Caleb Herbert and Cole Ulley - who had combined for 22 points through six games - to just one assist, while the Fuel penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 against Utah's top-ranked power play unit.
BACK TO CENTER: Following three consecutive games against Mountain Division opponents, the Fuel return to Central Division play Friday night in Fort Wayne. Each of Indy's next four games, and nine of the club's next 13 through Dec. 9 will come against divisional foes. The Fuel enter the weekend with eight points, tied for second place in the Central with Cincinnati. Both teams trail the first place Toledo Walleye, who hold a three-point lead.