Kalamazoo (19-19-0-2) at Indy (21-12-2-1)
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Eric Kattelus scored with 23.9 seconds left in overtime to give the K-Wings the 3-2 victory over the Rush. The victory was the second straight win for the K-Wings, both going past regulation. Kalamazoo got on the board in the opening period just 2:31 in when Kyle Thomas tapped the puck past Tyler Parks to put the K-Wings up 1-0. The lead stayed into the first intermission. Midway through the second period the Rush evened the game up at 1-1. Kalamazoo would retake the lead with just over four minutes left in the second period. Just over a minute later the Rush came right back to tie the game once again. Deadlocked at 2-2, Kalamazoo headed to overtime for the second straight game. Late in the extra period Eric Kattelus swiped at the puck in front of the net and knocked it past Tyler Parks, giving the K-Wings the 3-2 victory. Jake Hildebrand stopped 27 of 29 shots in the victory for Kalamazoo, while Parks stopped 37 of 40 for the Rush.
Scouting the Fuel:
Indy heads into the two-game home-and-home with the K-Wings currently tied for third place in the Central Division. The Fuel currently sit five points clear of Kalamazoo, and three points ahead of fifth place Wheeling. Ryan Rupert leads the Fuel in assists (25) and points (37) through the first 42 games of the season. Twin brother Matt as well as Josh Shalla and Kevin Dufour lead the Fuel in goals so far this season as well. All three players, who have scored 17 goals this season, joined with Ryan Rupert are the only Fuel skaters to surpass the 30 point mark this season. Altogther six different Indy skaters have surpassed the ten goal mark. Between the pipes Matt Tomkins has led the way for the Fuel, appearing in 31 of 42 games so far this season. Tomkins has posted a record of 16-11-2-0, paired with a 3.07 goals against average, and a .907 save percentage. The Fuel have lost four of their last six, all to Divisional opponents, but started the three-in-three weekend by blanking Fort Wayne 5-0 on Friday night in Indy.
Saturday's meeting is the first of back-to-back matchups, and the sixth game of the season between the teams. Indy holds the edge so far, having won four of the first five contests. When the season is all wrapped up the teams will play a total of 12 times this season, with the final six split between Indy and Kalamazoo. Ryan Rupert leads all skaters in the season series with nine points (4g, 5a). Teammate Josh Shalla ranks second, tied with Kalamazoo's Chris Collins, with eight points (4g, 4a). Reid Gardiner is the only other K-Wing with more than a pair of goals (3) and joins five different Fuel skaters who have tallied three goals so far. In the last five seasons the Fuel have held the edge against the K-Wings as Kalamazoo has posted a record of 10-13-3-0 against the Central Division foe.
Forward Kyle Thomas began the season with a goal in each of his first two games as a K-Wing, but following those games he notched only a single goal in his next 25 games. Over the two games the forward has tallied three goals, in addition to a shootout winner last Saturday night. Thomas tallied the K-Wings first goal of the night on Saturday, giving him his sixth of the season. Last season with Utah the forward tallied 14 goals and 44 points.
Hitting the Road:
After a December that saw the K-Wings spend 11 of 15 games at home, Kalamazoo with play five of the next seven games on the road. Kalamazoo has played 24 of their 36 home games so far this season. Kalamazoo is 8-8-0-0 on the road this season, and 11-11-0-2 at home.