INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The day before Thanksgiving was a great one for the Indy Fuel. In the fourth game of a four-game home-stand, the Kalamazoo Wings faced Indy in a Western Conference Central Division match-up. This was the first meeting between the two with Indy coming off of a weekend sweep of the Atlanta Gladiators and Kalamazoo came into the night after dropping two in a row against the Toledo Walleye.
The first period took a little bit of time to get going. The first few minutes were filled with whistles and neither team seemed to be able to get anything going. Once the game opened up, Kalamazoo put on the pressure. The Wings physical game showed but Indy’s speed prevailed and they controlled the end of the period.
Marek Tvrdon and Alex Wideman stuck out the most for Indy throughout the opening period. Their speed was evident and that led to several chances on Wings goaltender, Nick Riopel. Neither team was able to put a puck in the net and after one period, Kalamazoo lead in the shot column 8-7.
The floodgates opened up in the second period. Both teams were able to capitalize twice in the middle stanza. The beginning of the period belonged to the Fuel as their speed was very evident and the pressure got to the Wings defense. The scoring began from Wideman, who is the reigning ECHL Player of the Week. A broken play led to Kevin Lynch making a pass from his knees to Wideman, who put a wrist shot past Riopel. Kalamazoo’s Tanner Sorenson knotted the game at one, going coast-to-coast, then roofing a shot over Fuel goaltender, Jake Hildebrand.
Kalamazoo wasn’t done after the first goal. The momentum from their first goal carried them to control several shifts in a row in the Fuel defensive zone. The Wings took the lead during an attempted Fuel breakout and a bouncing puck came to Anthony Camara. Camara would bury the puck in the back of the Fuel net to give the Wings a 2-1 lead. Indy tied the game when Wideman made a pass from the corner to Tvrdon, who snapped the puck past Riopel. The two teams went into the final period tied 2-2.
The third period began with both teams trading chances. Indy seemed to get the better of the two teams when it came to shots on goal. Kalamazoo was able to put pucks on net but Indy nearly scored on a few of their early chances. Matt Rupert gave the Fuel their first lead of the period by putting a one-timer past Riopel during a delayed penalty. Indy doubled their lead while playing 4-on-4. Wideman made a long stretch pass that sprung Tvrdon on a breakaway. Tvrdon would go five-hole for his second goal of the game and the eventual game-winning-goal.
Kalamazoo attempted to make a comeback when Camara drove to the net and put a backhand shot over the left pad of Hildebrand. That would be all that Kalamazoo could muster. Indy’s defense would hold on and Lynch would score an empty net goal with less than a second left in the game.
With Wednesday’s win, Indy extends their win streak to six games in a row and earns two points against a Central Division foe. Wideman earned his fourth consecutive multi-point game and currently has ten points in his last four games. Tvrdon had another multi-point night, putting up two goals and a +3 rating. Hildebrand stopped 27 of 30 Kalamazoo shots on Wednesday night and made several crucial saves when Indy was caught with the long change.
Indy will take Thanksgiving off and then will head to Moline, Illinois for a game against the Quad City Mallards. Missouri will then come to the Coliseum for a back-to-back series on Saturday and Sunday.