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Fuel ignite for 5 goals in 4 minutes to take down Kalamazoo

Recap courtesy of Indy Fuel

Five goals in the first five minutes of the third period lifted the Indy Fuel (9-8-0-0) to a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over the Kalamazoo Wings (4-10-0-1) Saturday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. With the victory, the Fuel finished a three-game holiday homestand with four of a six possible points, maintaining their position in third place in the ECHL’s Central Division.

Josh Shalla scored a pair of goals, while forwards Olivier Labelle (1g, 1a), Kevin Dufour (1g, 1a), Mathew Thompson (1g, 1a) and Brett Welychka (2a) all factored for multiple points for Indy. Eleven different skaters found the scoresheet for the Fuel, who improved to 7-3 on home ice this season and 2-0 against the Wings.

Facing a 2-1 deficit to start the third period, Indy exploded for five unanswered goals in a span of 4:45 to seize a commanding 6-2 lead. Shalla started the rally just 29 seconds after the opening face-off, flinging a wrist shot from the right circle that eluded Kalamazoo goaltender Jake Hildebrand (26 saves).

Indy took the lead just under a minute later when the Rupert twins connected for a stunning shorthanded strike. Matt Rupert picked up a breakout pass from defenseman Josh McArdle, hitting the brakes upon entering the offensive zone. He then fed a perfect feed to an attacking Ryan Rupert, who beat Hildebrand with a brilliant forehand-to-backhand deke in tight.

Thompson finished off a rebound from Labelle to give the Fuel a 4-2 lead at 2:12 of the period, before Kevin Dufour put Indy up by three with a great individual effort. Dufour won a foot race to a chip-in from Fuel defenseman Alex Brooks, before batting the loose puck behind Hildebrand. Shalla capped off the third period onslaught with his team-leading ninth goal of the season at 5:14, converting a Welychka cross-ice feed on a 3-on-2 rush.

Kalamazoo’s Wade Murphy got the visitors back within three goals at the 15:05 mark, but Indy had all the cushion it needed to end its weekend slate with a victory.

The sudden deluge was the third time this season Indy has scored five goals in a period, and the second time the Fuel accomplished the feat at the expense of the Wings.

Entering Saturday’s game looking to rebound from a shutout loss to Cincinnati on Friday, Indy got on the board first halfway through the first period. On a 2-on-1 with Thompson, Labelle fired a shot and deposited his own rebound through Hildebrand’s five-hole, snapping a seven-game goalless streak for the veteran forward.

Kalamazoo tied the game in the final minute of the opening frame when forward Zach Saar pounced on a loose puck in front of Fuel netminder Kevin Lankinen.

Indy was unable to get much offensive traction in the second period, and the Wings capitalized by grabbing a 2-1 lead. A Chris Collins shot from the right face-off dot found some space under Lankinen’s arm, putting the visitors on top at 1:03 of the middle stanza. The Wings had a handful of chances to extend their lead in the second, but Lankinen came up with several big stops to hold the deficit at one. The goaltender finished the night with 30 saves, improving his record to 4-0 with the Fuel.

The Fuel’s recent scoring drought on the power play continued on Saturday, as the club came up empty on eight opportunities. Kalamazoo finished 1-for-5 with the extra skater.

Indy now heads back on the road next weekend for a pair of key Central Division matchups. The Fuel visit WesBanco Arena to take on the Wheeling Nailers on Friday, before squaring off with the Toledo Walleye Saturday at Huntington Center.

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 FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Snapchat (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2018-19 season.

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