INDIANAPOLIS - In two nights the two hottest teams in the ECHL have seen their lengthy point streaks come to an end in Central Indiana. After snapping the Wheeling Nailers' nine-game unbeaten streak on Thursday night, the Indy Fuel (16-13-0-0) handed the league-leading Cincinnati Cyclones their first loss in over a month with a 5-2 victory Friday before a crowd of 4,242 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel have now won three straight games and five of their last six, moving back into the Central Division's top four teams over the idle Fort Wayne Komets.
Ryan Rupert tallied a pair of third period goals to pad a one-goal Fuel lead, while Brett Welychka (1g, 1a), Quentin Shore (1g, 1a) and Radovan Bondra (2a) also chipped in multi-point nights. Goaltender Matt Tomkins was stellar once again in net, stopping 30 of 32 Cincinnati shots to help Indy improve its home record to 12-4 on the season.
The Cyclones struck first at the 8:30 mark of the first period, connecting on an odd-man rush. Former Fuel forward Alex Wideman took a drop pass from defenseman Arvin Atwal and threaded a wrist shot through a screen behind Tomkins for his seventh goal of the season.
Cincinnati's only lead of the game was short-lived, as Indy quickly responded with two goals in a span of 1:31 to turn the 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 edge. Quentin Shore tied the contest at 12:13, snapping a perfectly-placed shot off the crossbar and in after Welychka found him open in the high slot. The Fuel made it 2-1 at 13:44 when Matt Rupert took a centering pass from Bondra and beat Cyclones netminder Jonas Johansson (18 saves) over the glove from the left hash mark.
Welychka completed his two-point night when he scored the eventual game-winning tally at the 2:09 mark of the second period. A stretch pass from defenseman Dimitry Osipov split a pair of Cincinnati defenders, sending Welychka toward the net on a breakaway. The rookie forward opened up Johansson with a quick move before sliding his fourth goal of the season through the five-hole to make it 3-1.
Justin Schultz pulled the Cyclones back to within one at 7:05 of the middle frame, beating Tomkins just inside the right post after Wideman connected on a pinpoint cross-ice pass. Schultz's goal was the last thing to make it past the Fuel netminder, who locked things down down the stretch - stopping 24 of 25 shots over the second and third periods.
Heading into the third with a 3-2 advantage, Ryan Rupert helped Indy pull away in the final 20 minutes. The veteran forward put the Fuel back up by two at 8:29 of the final stanza, firing a quick shot off the ensuing draw after Kevin Dufour was denied on a penalty shot. Ryan put the game away with two minutes left in regulation, picking up his eighth goal of the season on Indy's only power play chance of the evening.
In addition to finishing 1-for-1 on the man advantage, the Fuel held Cincinnati scoreless on three power play chances.
Winners of seven of nine on home ice since November 21, Indy concludes its weekend homestand Saturday night as they host the Brampton Beast. Puck drop for Nickelodeon Night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum is slated 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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