FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT WINGS
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27 - 3:00 P.M.
WINGS EVENT CENTER, KALAMAZOO, MICH.
BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (22-18-2-1) try for a three-game weekend sweep Sunday as they head to Wings Event Center for a rematch with the Kalamazoo Wings (19-20-0-2). Fans back in Indianapolis can catch the 3 p.m. matinee affair by logging on to ECHL.TV.
Coming off two straight wins on home ice, the Fuel have now collected at least a point in seven of their last nine contests (4-2-2-1). By grabbing a 4-2 victory in the first half of the home-and-home set with Kalamazoo, Indy (47 points) moved into sole possession of third place in the Central Division standings, sitting two points ahead of Fort Wayne and four points in front of the fifth place Wheeling Nailers. Meanwhile, the Wings (40 points) are looking to close the gap at the bottom of the Central table, just three points back from Wheeling and five out of a potential playoff position.
Sunday is the second of four meetings between Indy and Kalamazoo in a two week span, with the Central Division rivals getting together for another home-and-home set on Feb 6 and 8. The Fuel have had the upper hand in the 2018-19 season series, winning five of the first six games against the Wings, with six more meetings remaining on the regular season schedule. Indy has won two in a row at Wings Event Center, with the club's most recent visit resulting in a 6-2 triumph on New Year's Eve.
Indy forwards Josh Shalla (6g, 4a) and Ryan Rupert (5g, 5a) lead the season series with 10 points apiece against Kalamazoo, while Tanner Sorenson paces the Wings with six points in four games played against the Fuel.
LAST TIME OUT: Indy rallied from a first-period deficit before scoring three third period goals to defeat the Wings 4-2 Saturday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Josh Shalla scored twice, while Kevin Dufour provided the game-winning tally with a power play strike halfway through the third period. Goaltender Matt Tomkins helped weather an early Kalamazoo surge with 31 saves through the first two periods of play, finishing the night with 37 stops.
SHALLA'S MILESTONE: Much to the dismay of goaltenders across the Central Division, Fuel forward Josh Shalla has caught fire over the past week. With two goals on Saturday, the Indy sniper has now found the net five times in three games, giving him a team-leading 19 on the season. Shalla's second period tally on Saturday was the 150th goal of his ECHL career, giving the veteran a total of 291 points over 345 career games with Indy, Wheeling, Toledo and Cincinnati. Shalla already holds the Fuel franchise record with 69 goals in an Indy uniform, and finds himself on the cusp of hitting the 20-goal plateau for the fifth time in eight seasons.
ON THE ROAD: A pair of victories this weekend has bolstered Indy's home record to an impressive 16-6-1-1, but now the club will look to find some of the same success away from Indiana Farmers Coliseum. After playing 13 of their last 19 contests since Dec. 27 in friendly territory, the Fuel will be visitors for eight of their next nine contests. Indy enters Sunday's action with a 6-12-1-0 record on the road, with a 3-3-1-0 mark over its last seven tests outside of Central Indiana.
OTHER NOTABLES: Indy's penalty kill is ranked first in the ECHL at 86.7%, and has now successfully killed off 20 consecutive power plays over the last five games ... Ryan Rupert has scored goals in four of his last five games ... Goaltender Matt Tomkins has backstopped the Fuel to at least a point in seven straight starts (4-0-3), stopping 67 of 69 shots (.971) through two wins this weekend ... The Fuel are 3-1-1-0 this season when tied after two periods of play.
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