Fuel Tank: Indy splits home-and-home with Wheeling Nailers


The Indy Fuel continued their league-leading ways with a series split with the Wheeling Nailers.

Billy Christopoulos named Goaltender of the Week

The Fuel’s Billy Christopolous was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goalie of the Week for the week of Jan. 18–24. He went 2–1–0 with 1.65 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.

It is the second such honor for Christopolous; his first came as a member of the Toledo Walleye last season. Prior to his professional career, he appeared in 93 games for the Air Force Falcons, where he went 42–35–11 with a 2.29 goals against average and a save percentage of .913. He had eight career college shutouts.

Fuel goalie Taran Kozun traded to Rapid City

The Fuel traded goaltender Taran Kozun to Rapid City for future considerations. Kozun signed with the Fuel on Jan. 20 and appeared in one start against the Tulsa Oilers. He stopped 42 of 43 shots in the victory.

Kozun has appeared in 11 career ECHL games between Kansas City, Manchester, Utah and Indy. Through his 11 games, he has a career save percentage of .897 and a goal against average of 3.06.

Patrick McGrath signs a PTO with AHL Rochester Americans

The Fuel’s Patrick McGarth signed a professional tryout with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. McGarth signed with Fuel this offseason and appeared in seven games. For his career, McGarth has appeared in 162 ECHL games, tallying seven goals and eight assists. McGrath has also appeared in 95 AHL games between Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and the Iowa Wild. He has three goals and four assists in the AHL.

Indy signs forward Dylan Malmquist

The Fuel inked forward Dylan Malmquist to a standard player contract. Malmquist comes to the Fuel after starting this season with the Kansas City Mavericks. Prior to coming to the ECHL, Malmquist spent the 2019–20 season in the Elite Hockey League (EIHL) with the Nottingham Panthers. He tallied eight goals and 19 assists in 45 games.

Before turning pro, Malmquist skated in 150 NCAA games for the University of Norte Dame. He helped the Irish to back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 2017 and 2018.

Saturday, Jan. 30 — Fuel 5, Wheeling Nailers 4

The Indy Fuel took on a familiar opponent in their first game of a home-and-home series.

The Fuel’s Nic Pierog got the scoring started with a wrist shot past Wheeling goaltender Brandon Halverson. Less than a minute later, Pierog picked up his second goal of the game on a Fuel power play. To cap off the first period in style, Peter Krieger tripled the Indy lead by backhanding a puck past Halverson.

In the second period, Wheeling started to chip away at the Fuel lead. Kreiger committed the third Fuel penalty of the game. Nailers center Austin Fyten wristed a shot past Christopoulos to get Wheeling on the board. Fyten was fed by Matt Alfaro on the power play. The Fuel responded with a power play goal of their own, as Joe Sullivan buried a pass from David Broll to extend the Fuel lead back to three at 4–1.

With the Fuel still leading by three goals, the Nailers got an even-strength goal to cut the lead in half. Wheeling’s Aaron Thow fired a puck from the blue line that deflected off a Fuel player for the goal.  With the lead down to 4–2, the Fuel responded with a goal of their own, with center Michael McNicholas one-timing a Sullivan pass for the Fuel’s fifth goal of the game.

Onto the third period, Wheeling attempted a comeback. Fyten led the charge with his second goal of the game. A little more than a minute later, Wheeling cut the lead to one goal at 5–4 with a goal from Joshua Winquist. The Nailers’ barrage continued for the duration of the third, but Christopolus and the Fuel stood tall and emerged victoriously.

Sunday, Jan. 31 — Fuel 5, Wheeling Nailers 4

In the second game of the home-and-home, the Fuel struck first. Spencer Watson led the rush and started a tic-tac-toe passing play with a pass to Jared Thomas, who tapped the puck to Cedric Lacroix for the tap-in goal. With the Fuel leading 1–0, Wheeling defenseman Matt Miller went coast to coast and drew iron with a quality chance. The first period ended with the Fuel leading by one goal.

In the second period, Nailers center Cody Sylvester blasted a shot past Fuel goalie Dan Bakala for the equalizer. The lead changed hands when Watson stickhandled himself into some daylight. Waston then backhanded a shot for the goal. Watson continued on his scoring tear on the power play. Fuel defenseman Keoni Texeira found Watson in the right circle and blasted it past Halverson for the 3–1 lead.

With the lead, the Fuel should have been on easy street; instead their two-goal lead collapsed. Wheeling earned a power play three minutes into the period. On the power play, Sylvester blasted a shot from the blue line. The shot was fended off by Bakala, but the rebound was stuffed home by Wheeling’s Hayden Hodgson.

Wheeling tied the game on an even-strength goal from Winquist. With three periods in the books, Wheeling and the Fuel headed into overtime. In overtime, the Fuel felt the wrath of Sylvester, as he notched the game-winning tally. It was Sylvester’s second goal of the game and third point on the night.

Splitting the series with Wheeling pushed the Fuel’s record to a league-leading 12–2–1. Please stay tuned to The Rink for all your Fuel and ECHL news.

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