FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT WINGS
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31 - 3:00 P.M.
WINGS EVENT CENTER, KALAMAZOO, MICH.
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (16-14-0-0) are set to play their final game of 2018 Monday afternoon as they head to Wings Event Center for a New Year's Eve showdown the the Kalamazoo Wings (15-15-0-1). The critical Central Division matchup is set for an early 3 p.m. puck drop, with coverage coming live via ECHL.TV.
The Fuel arrive in Kalamazoo in a fourth place tie with the Wheeling Nailers in the incredibly tight Central Division standings, where four teams are separated by just two points. Indy finds itself just one point back of the third place Fort Wayne Komets, - who jumped out of the basement with an overtime win in Toledo on Sunday - but just one point ahead of the sixth place Wings.
Monday marks the fifth of 12 meetings between the Fuel and Kalamazoo this season, the third of six taking place at Wings Event Center. Indy has won three of the first four encounters with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate, including one of two in Michigan. A pair of goals from Kevin Dufour and a three point night from Quentin Shore helped the Fuel to a 5-4 win in Kalamazoo during their last encounter with the Wings back on Dec. 22.
LAST TIME OUT: Indy saw a three game winning streak come to an end on Saturday as they suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Brampton Beast at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Beast found the net four times in the third period to blow open a 1-1 deadlock, including three goals coming in a span of just one minute and 25 seconds. Alex Brooks and Mathew Thompson provided the goal scoring for Indy, while former Fuel forward Anthony Beauregard picked up a goal and two assists for Brampton. Goaltender Jason Pawloski turned aside 26 of 31 shots in the loss.
TOMMER IN THE ZONE: The Fuel enter Monday's contest winners of three of their last four games and five of their last seven, in no small part due to the strong play of goaltender Matt Tomkins. The Indy netminder has posted a 7-1-0 record over his last eight starts dating back to Dec. 4 against Kansas City, alongside a 2.82 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. In two starts over the weekend, Tomkins turned aside 63 of 67 shots (.940) in a pair of victories over Wheeling and Cincinnati, giving up just two goals in each outing.
WATCHING THE PUCK DROP: Monday night marks the fifth straight season the Fuel have been in action on New Year's Eve, each time playing the role of the visitor. Indy is 1-3-0-0 on the final day of the calendar year, picking up their first victory last season with a 3-2 win in Wheeling. On the other side of things, New Year's Eve has been kind to the Wings, who have hosted a game on Dec. 31 every year since joining the ECHL back in 2009-10. Kalamazoo has won three straight NYE contests, as well as seven of their last eight.
CHECKING THE WINGS: After winning nine of their 10 games from Nov. 27 to Dec. 16, the Wings have cooled off a bit with just a 2-4-0-0 record over their last six contests. Kalamazoo's offense has been producing over that span, averaging four goals a game over their last five contests - but the club has also surrendered an average of four goals during that same stretch. The high scoring trend seems likely to continue on Monday, as the Fuel and Wings have averaged a total of 9.5 combined goals over their first four meetings this season.
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