The Indy Fuel saw action in two games over the weekend, a homestand which resulted in a pair of victories over the Wheeling Nailers and Wichita Thunder.
The weekend was highlighted by an offensive explosion Saturday night, a 7-1 victory over division-leading Wichita. That performance followed Friday night’s 3-2 victory over Wheeling, a team that features a pair of top-10 scorers. While the margin of victory varied, one area that made a profound impact in both games was the goaltending.
Rookie goaltender Matt Tomkins, 23, backstopped both victories. Against Wheeling he faced a staggering 50 shots– and stopped 48 of them. The Fuel were outshot 50-31, but were able to hold off the high-scoring Wheeling offense. Tomkins followed that up with a 40-save effort Saturday night, a game that again saw the Fuel outshot, this time 41-25. For those two games, Tomkins posted an incredible .967 save percentage and 1.50 GAA.
The Edmonton, Alberta product is off to a red-hot start for his pro career. After capping a solid career at Ohio State that saw him chosen as a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, he signed with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs earlier this year, the affiliate of the Fuel and Chicago Blackhawks– who selected him 199th overall in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Rockford assigned Tomkins to the Fuel during the preseason, and he has been lights-out ever since. In four appearances this season, the Edmonton native is 3-0-0 with a .962 save percentage and 1.45 GAA. Tomkins briefly missed time with a lower body injury early in the season and has not accrued enough games to count as a “qualified goalie” for official stat leaders, but his save percentage and GAA rank as number one and number two in the ECHL, respectively.
Tomkins is a prospect Fuel fans should keep an eye on. He displays sound technique and instincts, and also the athleticism to quickly utilize his 6’3″, 206-pound frame to recover when needed.
Honorable mention for Player Of The Week:
Michael Neal, Forward. Three goals, one assist and a +5 rating in two games. On the season, the team captain has seven goals, three assists and a +1 rating in 14 games.