FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. KOMETS
THURSDAY, JANUARY 3 - 7:05 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (17-14-0-0) begin the 2019 portion of their schedule Thursday night as they take on the Fort Wayne Komets (16-14-0-1) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The first test of a 3-in-3 weekend set for the Fuel falls on another All-You-Can-Eat Night in the Circle City - with all fans able to enjoy unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and burgers free with the purchase of a game ticket.
Indy enters the New Year on a roll after winning six of its last eight games to wrap up 2018. With a 4-1-0-0 mark since Dec. 22, the Fuel have fought their way back into a tie for third place in the agonizingly-tight Central Division standings. Indy and the Wheeling Nailers each have 34 points in 31 games as of Thursday morning, while the Komets sit just one pont behind.
Holding a two point lead over the sixth place Kalamazoo Wings, Fort Wayne arrives to Indianapolis with a 3-4-0-1 mark over its last eight outings. Like the Fuel, the Komets played four games in a five day span from Dec. 27-31, picking up wins against Kalamazoo and in Toledo but dropping a pair of home games to Cincinnati and Brampton.
LAST TIME OUT: Indy rung in 2019 with a big road victory as the club claimed a 6-2 come-from-behind triumph over the Kalamazoo Wings on New Year's Eve at Wings Event Center. Facing a 2-1 deficit after one period, the Fuel surged for four goals in the second and one more in the third to pick up their second consecutive win in Michigan. Twin brothers Ryan (1g, 3a) and Matt (2g) combined for six points, while Logan Nelson (1g, 1a), Josh Shalla (1 goal, 1 assist) and Avery Peterson also found the back of the net. Goaltender Matt Tomkins stopped 33 of 35 shots to register his fourth straight victory between the pipes.
WELCOME TO 2019: After floating around the .500 mark for most of November and early December, the Fuel finished the calendar year on a strong foot. Indy finished the month of December with an 8-5-0-0 record, winning seven of its last 10 contests. A big factor in the Fuel's recent success has been the club's explosive scoring attack - Indy has put up at least five goals on the scoreboard in six of its last seven games. The Fuel also continued to be a tough team to face on home ice, skating to a 5-2-0-0 record in seven games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum over the month of December.
Looking ahead, Indy will be just as busy in January with 13 games on the schedule, including four consecutive 3-in-3 weekends. All but one of the Fuel's January contests will come against Central Division opponents, while seven of the team's 13 games will take place on home ice.
TOMMER DOES IT AGAIN: For the second time this season, Indy's Matt Tomkins was named the CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week. The Fuel netminder stopped 63 of 67 shots faced in a pair of victories against Wheeling and Cincinnati last Thursday and Friday, before making 33 more saves in his team's 6-2 win in Kalamazoo on Monday. Entering Thursday riding a four-game winning streak, Tomkins is 8-1-0 over his last nine appearances, posting a 2.73 goals against average and a .918 save percentage over that span. Tied for second in the ECHL in wins, the second-year pro has a 13-9-0 record in 23 appearances so far in 2018-19, alongside a 3.16 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.
BATTLE FOR THE HOOSIER STATE: The latest chapter of the in-state rivalry between Indy and Fort Wayne is about to crank up in intensity as the calendar flips to 2019. After playing each other just three times through the first 12 weeks of the season, the Fuel and Komets will face off a total of five times in the month of January, including three meetings over the next nine days. The two clubs will wrap up their respective three-game weekends Saturday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, before meeting again in Indianapolis next Friday.
Indy dropped two straight against Fort Wayne to start the 11-game season series, though the club picked up a 5-2 victory in Allen County on Dec. 8 - the last time the two teams squared off. The Fuel hold a 12-24-3-4 all-time record against their Hoosier State foe, including a 7-12-0-3 mark at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
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