WICHITA, KANSAS - The Wichita Thunder (19-25-6-3) made things interesting with a third-period rally, but the Indy Fuel (24-23-2-1) rode a strong start to a 7-5 victory Sunday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Finishing off a season-long five game road trip with back-to-back wins in Wichita, the Fuel now return to Central Indiana for a pair of home tilts next week against the Thunder at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, beginning Tuesday morning with the club's annual Education Day Game.
Ryan Rupert led the way for Indy's big offensive night with three goals and two assists, while Woody Hudson (3a), Radovan Bondra (2g) and Matt Rupert (1g, 1a) also logged multi-point performances. The Fuel scored three times in each of the first two periods to build a commanding 6-2 lead, which they needed all of to withstand a furious three-goal rally by the Thunder early in the third period.
Coming off of a decisive 5-0 triumph on Saturday night, Indy grabbed control early in Sunday's rematch by scoring the game's first three goals before the halfway point of the opening frame. Logan Nelson gave Indy a 1-0 lead at 5:45 on the power play, beating Wichita goaltender Ty Rimmer to the glove side right off of an offensive zone draw. Just minutes later, the one-goal lead stretched to three when the Fuel scored twice in a nine-second span. Hudson picked up the first of his three primary helpers to a Rupert brother at 9:19 when his shot from the high slot caromed off Matt Rupert and into the net. Off of the ensuing face-off, Samuel Thibault fed the puck to Bondra, who snapped a wrist shot past Rimmer's glove.
Wichita found its way onto the scoreboard at 12:01 of the first period with a power play goal from Mark McMillan, who took a centering pass from Jakob Stukel (1g, 1a) before beating Indy netminder Matt Tomkins (32 saves) over the blocker.
The Thunder climbed back within one with a strike from Stefan Fournier at the 1:28 mark of the second period. Indy found a quick answer to restore a two-goal cushion, when Ryan Rupert finished off a cross-ice feed from Hudson in transition at 3:24. Shortly after the halfway point of the period, the Fuel grew their lead to 6-2 with a pair of tallies in a 59 second span. Hudson found Rupert again at 12:18, this time with a centering feed from behind the net, before Bondra finished off a rebound from Quentin Shore at 13:17.
Down by four after 40 minutes, Wichita stormed back into the game with three straight goals in the first eight minutes of the third period. Stukel made it 6-3 at 2:44 with a net drive from the right half wall, before Ryan Van Stralen added another for the home team less than a minute later, flicking a backhand over Tomkins' shoulder from the right circle. The Thunder made it a one-goal game at 7:35, when Taylor Cammarata capped off a 2-on-1 rush with Ralph Cuddemi.
Indy didn't let Wichita get any closer, keeping the Thunder at bay through the final 10 minutes of regulation before Ryan Rupert completed his first professional hat trick with an empty net goal with 1:14 left on the clock. Rupert became the second Fuel player in as many nights to card a three-goal performance, finishing the two-game set in Wichita with a total of five goals and two assists.
The Fuel scored once on three power play opportunities, while holding the Thunder scoreless on three chances.
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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