INDIANAPOLIS – After a couple of very disappointing games, the Indy Fuel came into the first weekend of December ready to get back on the winning track. After losing three out of their last five games, the Fuel looked poised to bag four points and move up the standings in the Central Division. They would do exactly that in two games against the Wheeling Nailers and the Wichita Thunder.
The first time Indy played Wheeling this season, it was a dismal 5-1 trouncing by the Nailers at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel were determined to not let that happen again. They perfectly executed the same game plan that they’ve had all season, get on them early, get the first goal and go from there. Nathan Noel gave the Fuel that crucial early lead, pouncing on a rebound from Wheeling goaltender Adam Morrison.
— Indy Fuel (@IndyFuel) December 9, 2017
The second period wasn’t as special for the Fuel. Wheeling would respond with two quick goals to take the lead and put up 26 shots in the process. However, Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins would keep the team alive by stopping 24 out of 26 shots in the period. After scoring the tying goal late in the second, Tommy Olczyk mentioned in the between periods interview that the team sat back and let Wheeling come at them, causing the 26 shots and three power plays in the second.
Michael Neal would score the game-winning goal late in the third period on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence.
— Indy Fuel (@IndyFuel) December 9, 2017
Saturday’s game was without a doubt, the best game of the season for the Indy Fuel and probably one of the best games to happen at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Again, the Fuel wanted to come out and jump on chances and create opportunities to score early. They did that and more against the Wichita Thunder.
Michael Neal scored an early, lucky bounce to send thousands of teddy bears flying through the air and onto the ice. It was all uphill from there for the Indy Fuel.
Everything was clicking for the Fuel on Saturday night. Passes were crisp, breakouts we’re quick and easy and goaltender Matt Tomkins was solid throughout the entire night.
Dyson Stevenson and Garrett Clarke got the festivities going with a solid fight just 17 seconds into the game. From there, it seemed to give the Fuel all the momentum they needed for the night.
The power play kept the good times rolling, going 2-for-3 in the first period alone. Matt Rupert and Cam Reid tallied the two first period power play goals, sending Indy into the locker room with a 3-1 lead. The second period saw Indy tally four more goals from Nathan Noel, Johnny McInnis, Cam Reid and Michael Neal.
The night would end with a fight at the benches that started when Ryan Rupert squirted water at Wichita’s Evan Polei. Rupert, Polei and Travis Ewanyk would be ejected for their roles in the altercation.
Saturday’s game was without a doubt one of the best games played this season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel were firing on all cylinders and everything seemed to go in.
- Both of Indy’s wins this weekend were over teams leading their divisions. Indy gathered four points on the weekend, moving them above the Quad City Mallards in the Central Division.
- Goaltender Matt Tomkins made his debut after going down with a knee injury in October. The 6’3 goaltender stopped 87 of 89 shots on the weekend, 50 of them coming against the Wheeling Nailers and only allowing one goal in Saturday’s matchup against the Thunder.
- Bernie John mentioned in the Fuel Rewind that it is “not about quantity, it’s about quality.”
“If we give up 40 shots, but three-quarters are from the perimeter, we have so much faith in either goaltender, he’s going to stop those every night. We want to focus on stopping the Grade A chances, and tonight, we probably out-chanced them in the Grade As. We didn’t have a lot of shots, but we had the ones that counted,” John said.
- The Seckel-Neal-Noel line was putting up points all weekend, scoring the game-winning goal on Friday. Michael Neal has three goals and one assist on the weekend while Seckel has one point and Noel tallied two goals and two assists.
- Indy will play four games in five nights this week, beginning with a Tuesday night matchup against Wheeling. They will return home on Thursday to face Quad City then play a home-and-home against Fort Wayne on Friday and Saturday.