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Rupert's milestone night leads Fuel over league-leading Cyclones

Sunday, March 24th
Rupert's milestone night leads Fuel over league-leading Cyclones

INDIANAPOLIS - Paced by a four-point performance from forward Ryan Rupert, the Indy Fuel (32-30-2-2) wrapped up a three-game weekend with a 7-6 victory over the top-ranked Cincinnati Cyclones (47-12-4-3) Sunday afternoon at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. With the victory, Indy pulled within four points of the Kalamazoo Wings for possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL's Central Division with six games left to play in the regular season.

The Fuel rattled off five unanswered goals to blow open a 2-2 lead, before the league-leading Cyclones mounted a ferocious comeback with four straight goals of their own. Ryan Rupert tallied three goals and one assist, becoming the first Fuel player to eclipse the 60-point mark in a single season, while Mathew Thompson (2g, 1a), Matt Rupert (1g, 1a) and Travis Brown (2a) all logged multi-point outings. Indy now has two straight wins to open a season-long five-game stint at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, with three more home games scheduled next weekend.

The two clubs alternated goals in the first period, with the Fuel taking a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Ryan Rupert opened the scoring at 9:37 with a shorthanded tally, capitalizing on a 2-on-1 rush with twin brother Matt providing the assist. Cincinnati's Judd Peterson evened the score at 14:03, chipping a shot over the shoulder of Indy goaltender Matt Tomkins in transition. The overtime hero from Saturday's victory over Fort Wayne struck again late in the opening frame, as Josh Shalla snapped a wrist shot through Cincinnati netminder Ty Rimmer at 15:16.

Pascal Aquin scored on a partial breakaway to bring the Cyclones back to even ground early in the second, before the Fuel began to take control. Thompson kicked off Indy's four-goal second period at 7:52 with the first of his two tallies. An errant Cyclones pass from the Fuel defensive end sprung the rookie on a breakaway, where he beat Rimmer inside the left post to give the home team a 3-2 lead. The Ruperts connected once again at 12:12, with Ryan chipping a pass from the right half wall to Matt, who cashed in for his 21st goal of the season. Ryan Rupert and Thompson each tacked on their second goals of the afternoon late in the middle frame to give Indy a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.

Rupert completed his second hat trick of the season to make it 7-2 at 7:56 of the third period, moments stepping out of the penalty box. The Fuel's leading scorer notched his 61st point of the campaign as he received a stretch pass from Thompson, beating relief goaltender Michael Houser with a slick backhand deke.

The ECHL's most potent offense came to life in the final 11 minutes of regulation, as Cincinnati made things interesting with four unanswered tallies to whittle Indy's lead to a single goal. Myles Powell scored the first of his two third-period markers at 9:18, before defenseman DeVante Stephens made it 7-4. The Cyclones added power play goals from Kurt Gosselin and Powell with under four minutes to play to make it 7-6, but the Fuel were able to escape with the critical victory.

Tomkins steered aside 32 shots to record his league-leading 27th win of the season, while Houser was saddled with the loss despite surrendering only one goal on 11 shots. Rimmer stopped 29 of 35 Indy attempts before being pulled after the second period. The Fuel outshot the Cyclones by a 46-38 margin, the club's highest shot output of the season.

Indy was scoreless on only one power play opportunity, while the Cyclones finished 2-for-4 with the extra skater.

The Fuel begin a three-in-three weekend on home ice next Friday as they take on the Kalamazoo Wings.

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.

-- INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM --

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