INDIANAPOLIS – Kalamazoo Wings forward Ben Copeland sunk the hearts of the Fuel faithful on Saturday night when he skated his way down the right wall and fired a shot over the shoulder of Indy goaltender Zach Driscoll to clinch the victory for Kalamazoo 4-3 in overtime.
Early on, the Fuel controlled the majority of the play, totaling 13 shots to the Wings’ five attempts in the opening period, but Kalamazoo goaltender Evan Cormier was able to keep Indy off the scoreboard. Despite incredible chances, the bad shooting luck from Friday carried over for the Fuel into the first period.
Chaos was the theme in the early stages of the second as the Wings took control with two quick goals in the first 1:46. First, Ben Copeland took a pass from Luke Morgan off a turnover and beat Driscoll to his right side to break the scoreless drought. Less than a minute later, David Keefer fired a low shot from the far circle that fooled the Indy netminder to double the advantage. This left the crowd stunned until Chris Cameron regained momentum for the Fuel, firing a blast from the blue line boards that whistled past Cormier to put Indy on the board. The Fuel would tie it just over a minute later when Andrew Bellant finished off a transition rush and beat Cormier with a shot between his legs, ultimately, sliding into him in the process. After that, the Fuel hammered the Wings on shots with 22 in the middle period. They would grab the lead late with a slap shot from the blue line by Koletrane Wilson and would take it into the intermission.
An uneventful third period played in the Wings favor, who managed to tie the game late on a far shot from the blue line by newly-acquired defenseman Kyle Rhodes. Kalamazoo tested the Fuel in the final minutes of the third but were unable to go ahead, advancing the game into overtime.
The Wings came out buzzing in the extra period, pressuring the Indy defense and missing on multiple wide-open net opportunities. After a near Indy goal, Copeland ended the game for good on his overtime shot to win it for the visitors.
“They play hard, and that can be a problem at times if you’re not ready to go.” Indy Fuel Assistant Coach Kevin Moore spoke of Saturday night’s opponent, the Kalamazoo Wings.
Drama in Second
Who knows what was said in both locker rooms, but after the first intermission, both teams erupted with a barrage of scoring to begin the second period. After a scoreless opening frame, four goals, two apiece, were scored in the first 3:26 of the middle period. After this absurd stretch of minutes, both sides allowed just three more goals, including the overtime winner.
For most of the night, Indy had the upper hand. They controlled the majority of the first forty minutes, with the exception of the opening couple minutes of the second in which they allowed a pair of goals. After the Fuel took a 3-2 lead late in the second, all signs pointed to the team closing out the victory; however, after giving up the tying goal in the final moments of the game, the Wings turned the tables, stealing the victory in overtime.
Late Season Home Struggles
With this weekend’s three-game homestand, Indy has lost the first two contests. In addition to that, the Fuel have lost four of their last five home games, a place that they had used to climb the standings in the early part of the season. It will be important for the team to reflect and find their home-ice advantage before the playoffs.
With the loss, Fort Wayne is now within nine points of Indy for third place in the Central Division. The Fuel conclude this weekend with a rematch against the Wings this afternoon.
After that, the Fuel will play five of their next six games on home ice, giving them the perfect chance to regain their home ice magic.
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