INDIANAPOLIS – In the first game of the New Year, the Indy Fuel hosted no other team than I-69 rival Fort Wayne Komets. Coming into Thursday’s game, Indy was 2-1 against the Komets but had yet to beat their rival on home ice. In the first game of a three-in-three for Indy, the Komets would take advantage of a depleted and worn out Fuel team.

It only took Fort Wayne 1:36 into the first period to take the lead over the Fuel when Indy cleared a puck into the neutral zone, leading to a quick transition from the Komets. Zach Miskovic was beaten on a 2-on-2, leading to an easy shot over the shoulder of Matt Tomkins.

Despite a sloppy period, the Fuel were able to spring Kevin Dufour on a breakaway, but he wasn’t able to hold on to a bouncing puck while being poke checked by Fort Wayne’s Zach Fucale.

Immediately following the chance from Dufour, Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw put a shot on net that squeezed through the arm of Matt Tomkins. Immediately, the head referee signaled it in. But the goal judge never turned the light on. After discussing further, the referee made the decision to call it a no-goal.

After starting the second period late due to ice issues, Indy’s fortunes turned for the better but only for a limited time. Indy’s Logan Nelson picked up his own shot after a Fort Wayne defenseman blocked it and beat an unprepared Fucale. Fort Wayne took over the game fairly quickly after Nelson’s goal. Around halfway through the period, a bad line change by Indy during a Fort Wayne transition led to an odd-man rush. JC Campagna beat Tomkins on the blocker side. Six minutes later while on the power play, Campagna doubled his goal total beating Tomkins over the shoulder with a wicked wrist shot from the point.

After some offensive zone time late in the third period, Ryan Rupert tried to make a cross-ice pass that was picked off by Jake Kamrass who sprung Mason Baptista on a breakaway. The forward beat Tomkins on the blocker side to give the Komets a 4-1 lead and put the game away.

Takeaways

  • Indy was on the wrong side of several bad bounces. Two or three times throughout the game pucks beat Zach Fucale bounced on the goal line but didn’t go the Fuel’s way
  • The Fuel looked lackadaisical on Thursday night. The team seemed to move slowly throughout the whole night, causing turnovers and extended time in the defensive zone. “It was just kind of one of those games where we were trying to find some energy as a group,” said Head Coach Bernie John.
  • After receiving ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors, Matt Tomkins looked off his game. The Komets first goal was a quick wrist shot that very easily could have been saved by Tomkins. Later in the first, a wrist shot from Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw squeaked through the arm of Tomkins and trickled over the line. Referee Jeff Parker called the goal on the ice but after discussing with his linesmen and goal judge, the goal was called off. Thursday was another instance where official replay could have come into play.
  • Zach Miskovic returned to the Indy lineup Thursday night after being stretchered off the ice in Kalamazoo on December 23rd.

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  • Matt Rupert and Miles Liberati both left the game with injuries. Rupert was out with hip injury and was walking with an ice bag after the game. Liberati returned to finish the game.

“I just don’t know that we had a ton of energy, you know, we have played a lot of hockey recently,” said Bernie John, “guys are a little banged up, a little tired. Obviously, we lost [Matt Rupert] early too. So that kind of hurts when your lineup gets depleted.”

  • Thursday night was Fort Wayne’s Zach Fucale’s first action for the Komets since returning from Davos, Switzerland, where he started for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Fucale earned a record of  3-0-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

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  • Indianapolis native JC Campagna tallied two goals in the second period two give the Komets a 3-1 lead over Indy. Campagna currently leads the Komets in goal scoring this season with 16 in 26 games.
  • With Thursday’s win, Fort Wayne moved past the Fuel and Wheeling Nailers to third place in the Central Division.

“You can’t take a night off in this league,” said Fuel forward Logan Nelson, “every two points is pretty big, especially in your own division. Gotta try and move past this one and move forward to tomorrow [against Wheeling].”

Indy will host the Nailers for the second time this season in the second game of a three-in-three, the third coming against Fort Wayne at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

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