Kevin Lankinen got his second call in goal of the season tonight for the Indy Fuel. Lankinen backstopped the Fuel to a 4-1 win on Thursday to hand the Utah Grizzlies their first regulation loss of the season. The 23-year-old netminder recently got sent down from the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. While with the IceHogs, the Helsinki, Finland native played in two games and recorded a 0-1-1 record with a 3.39 goals-against-average and a .825 save percentage.
At the other end, John Muse got the start for the Wheeling Nailers. Muse had started in two games for Wheeling, prior to Saturday. Coming into the Nailers’ home opener on Saturday, the 30-year-old had posted a 1-1-0 record with a 2.89 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage.
FUEL STARTING LINEUP
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Olivier Labelle
Alex Brooks-Neil Manning
The Fuel got out to yet another shaky start on Saturday. Wheeling got out to a 1-0 lead 16:48 into the opening frame on an unassisted tally by Troy Josephs.
About two minutes later, Zac Lynch ripped a shot over the shoulder of Lankinen as the Fuel found themselves in yet another first-period deficit.
On the ensuing faceoff after the Lynch goal, Anthony Collins and Brad Drobot had a much-anticipated heavyweight fight. This seemed to have spark Indy in the second period.
Fuel captain Zach Miskovic found himself in the box to start the middle frame as he was called for a slashing penalty at the end of the first.
This did not seem to faze the Fuel penalty kill. Connor Moynihan netted his second shorthanded goal of the season on a 2-on-1 rush with Mathew Thompson. This cut the Nailers’ lead in half early.
Kevin Dufour recorded his first of two goals in the game just 40 seconds after the Moynihan tally to tie the game up at two early in the second period. Josh Shalla tallied an assist on the goal which allowed him to continue a season-long point streak, which extends nine games.
A little over four minutes later, Dufour found the back of the net again for his third of the season on a feed from Brooks. This gave the Fuel a 3-2 lead, their first lead of the game.
The Fuel’s power play was the next unit to find the back of the net for Indy. Labelle was able to bury a cross-crease pass from Shalla for his team-leading fifth goal of the season to double the Fuel lead.
Next up on the goal queue was Shalla. Moynihan was able to feed him on the rush to extend the Fuel lead to 5-2.
This is the second time this season that the Fuel were able to net five goals in one period, which is the most goals in a period in the ECHL this season.
Josephs quickly responded to Shalla’s tally on the power play for Wheeling. This was his second goal of the game and it cut the Fuel lead to 5-3.
The chippiness picked up a bit more in the third period with scattered scuffles after whistles. The Fuel were still able to spoil the Nailers’ home opener with a 5-3 victory.
This was Wheeling’s first regulation home opener loss since 2010. They were 6-0-1 in their past seven home openers and 18-5-1 all-time in opening games at home.
By The Numbers
- 9 – The length of Shalla’s point streak. The 27-year-old has 14 points (4G, 10A) in nine games.
- 2 – The number of wins and games played for Lankinen. The netminder has played outstanding in his past two starts and the Finnish goaltender has a bright future.
- 5 – The number of goals Labelle has. The 13-year veteran took the team lead in goals on Saturday with a power-play goal. This turned out to be the game-winner.