Fuel rebound to close out 2018 with 6-2 comeback

Five unanswered goals helped the Indy Fuel (17-14-0-0) ring in the New Year with two points, during a 6-2 come-from-behind victory over the Kalamazoo Wings (15-16-0-1) Monday afternoon at Wings Event Center. Brothers Ryan (1g, 3a) and Matt (2g) Rupert teamed up for three goals and six points, leading the Fuel to their sixth win in their last eight games.

Down 2-1 after one period of play, Indy’s offense ignited with four goals in the middle frame to secure their second straight victory at Wings Event Center, and their fourth in five meetings with Kalamazoo this season. Josh Shalla and Logan Nelson each recorded a goal and an assist for the Fuel, while Radovan Bondra and Mathew Thompson each chipped in a pair of assists.

Playing their fourth game in five days, Indy found itself down early when Kalamazoo took a 1-0 lead 2:03 into the first period. Skating down the left wing, forward Chris Collins snapped a shot from a wide angle that snuck over the shoulder of Matt Tomkins (33 saves).

The Fuel evened the score at 7:04 of the opening frame with the first of two power play strikes on the afternoon. Ryan Rupert found Nelson open at the top of the right circle, who had time to fire a perfect shot through Wings netminder Jake Hildebrand (25 saves).

The Wings pulled back in front at 12:08 of the first when Collins sprung Reid Gardiner on a breakaway, moments after an Indy power play expired.

Kalamazoo’s lead only lasted 1:40 into the second period before the Fuel again utilized their power play to find an equalizer. Thompson found Shalla unmarked in the slot, sliding a centering pass from behind the net for the veteran’s 12th goal of the season.

Three tallies in a span of 4:46 would soon give Indy complete control of the contest, starting with a one-timer strike by Ryan Rupert from right outside the goal crease at 12:57. Matt Rupert converted a centering feed from his brother to put Indy up 4-2 at 16:21, before rookie Avery Peterson put back a loose puck just over a minute later for his first career professional goal.

Matt Rupert would account for the lone goal in the third period, beating Hildebrand on a breakaway with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. Matt’s second marker of the contest came with a lone assist to Ryan, who has now scored four goals and three assists over his last four games.

After surrendering the two first period goals, Tomkins was steady in net for Indy, turning aside all 23 shots he faced in the second and third periods. The second-year goaltender has now won four straight starts for the Fuel, improving his record to 8-1 over his last nine appearances since Dec. 4.

Indy’s power play finished the game 2-for-8, while Kalamazoo was held scoreless on three chances with the extra attacker.

The Fuel return to Indiana Farmers Coliseum Thursday to kick off the 2019 portion of their schedule with a key matchup against the Fort Wayne Komets.

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