The Indy Fuel (19-17-1-0) began the second half of their schedule with a 3-2 loss to the Wheeling Nailers (18-16-2-0) Saturday night at WesBanco Arena. The two Central Division rivals will conclude a doubleheader in West Virginia Sunday afternoon.
The Fuel fell victim to a resilient Nailers squad, who produced a quick answer to each of Indy’s goals – in both cases scoring a goal less than 30 seconds later. With the win, Wheeling pulled within one point of the Fuel for a share of fourth place in the Central Division standings as the 2018-19 season crossed over the halfway point.
Neither team could find the net in the first period, but the goals came quickly as the puck dropped for the middle frame. Brett Welychka gave Indy a 1-0 lead just 17 seconds into the second, redirecting a point shot from Robert Powers for his fourth goal in his last five games.
The lead lasted only 30 seconds before the Nailers evened the score with a goal from Zac Lynch. Fuel goaltender Jason Pawloski (25 saves) was unable to hang on to a wide-angle shot from Yushiroh Hirano, and Lynch buried the rebound for his third goal in six games against Indy this season.
Wheeling capitalized on another second-chance opportunity to pull ahead 2-1 with two minutes remaining in the second period. Alec Butcher took a pass from Michael Phillips from behind the Fuel net and beat Pawloski on his own rebound just inside the right goal post.
Logan Nelson brought the Fuel back to even ground at 6:39 of the third period, taking a feed from Dimitry Osipov in transition before snapping a wrist shot over the glove of Nailers netminder Matt O’Connor (21 saves) from the right circle.
Once again, Wheeling wasted no time getting the goal back, regaining the lead just 23 seconds after Nelson’s tally with a strike from Craig Skudalski. Pawloski made an initial save on Hirano from the slot, but Austin Rauter picked up the rebound, finding Skudalski for the finish right off of the back post.
Neither team was able to convert on the power play; Indy finished the game 0-for-5 while the Nailers were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
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.