FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. BEAST
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The surging Indy Fuel (16-13-0-0) look to complete a perfect weekend homestand Saturday as they welcome the Brampton Beast (12-16-2-1) to Indiana Farmers Coliseum Saturday night. The lone meeting of the 2018-19 season between the two clubs comes on Nickelodeon Night in Indianapolis - fans can meet Leo and Donnie of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while the Fuel wear special TMNT-themed jerseys. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster or the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
Indy enters the final leg of a 3-in-3 tripleheader playing some of its best hockey of the season, riding a three game winning streak and coming out on top in five of its last six since Dec. 14. The Fuel are coming off back-to-back 5-2 victories over two of the hottest teams in the ECHL, downing the Wheeling Nailers on Thursday before handing the Cincinnati Cyclones their first loss in over a month on Friday.
On the other side, Brampton makes its first appearance in the Circle City since February of 2017 looking to find its way out of a six game slide. The Beast are 3-9-0-0 since the beginning of December, sitting in seventh place in the North Division standings. Heading into the third game of a seven-game trip outside of Ontarion, Brampton started the weekend with a 7-4 loss to the Toledo Walleye Thursday at Huntington Center.
The Fuel are still looking for their first-ever win against the Beast, coming into Saturday's contest with a 0-6-1-0 all-time record against Brampton, including an 0-5-0-0 mark in Indianapolis. The two teams met once last season, a back-and-forth affair on March 25 at Powerade Centre which ended in a 6-5 Beast overtime victory.
LAST TIME OUT: The Fuel snapped the Cincinnati Cyclones' 10-game unbeaten streak Friday night with a decisive 5-2 victory at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Ryan Rupert scored two third period goals to bolster a 3-2 Indy lead, while goaltender Matt Tomkins made 30 saves to stymie the ECHL's top-ranked team. Brett Welychka and Quentin Shore each recorded a goal and an assist for Indy, while Radovan Bondra marked a pair of assists.
BACK IN THE DRIVERS' SEAT: With their two wins to start the weekend, the Fuel have jumped back into the top half of the Central Division standings. With 32 points in 29 games, Indy is tied for third place with the Wheeling Nailers, who fell to Kalamazoo on Friday night. There is still no breathing room to be had in the back half of the standings, however, as the Wings and Fort Wayne Komets both sit just one point back in a fifth-place tie.
RYAN'S RESURGENCE: After eight games without a goal from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, Fuel forward Ryan Rupert has found his scoring stride. Rupert's two-goal performance on Friday gives him four over his last four games, upping his total to eight on the season. Through 29 games in 2018-19, the veteran forward ranks fourth on the Fuel in point scoring with 24 points (8g, 16a), leading the team with eight points on the power play.
WE KNOW THOSE GUYS: As the Beast make their first and only visit to Indiana Farmers Coliseum this season, a pair of former Fuel players make their return to the Circle City in Daniel Ciampini and Anthony Beauregard. Ciampini comes back to Indy for the first time since leading all Fuel rookies in scoring with 38 points back in the 2015-16 season. The fourth-year forward has split this season between Brampton and the AHL's Belleville Senators, logging 18 points in 21 ECHL contests. Beauregard enters Saturday's game with five goals and seven assists in 27 games this season for Brampton. The second-year forward played the first part of the 2016-17 campaign with Indy, scoring 10 points in 21 games.
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