Fuel Pit Stop: Week 18
- Updated: February 13, 2017
(By Terry Ficorelli)
DEPLETED FUEL KEEP IT CLOSE IN THREE CONSECUTIVE LOSSES OVER THE WEEKEND
INDY STAYS WITHIN TWO POINTS OF WICHITA IN PUSH TO CLIMB IN ECHL WEST’S CENTRAL DIVISION
THE FUEL TAKE TO THE OPEN HIGHWAY FOR THEIR NEXT THREE STARTS COMING UP HIS WEEK
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 3(0-2-1) 11-16
FRI. FEB. 10 FUEL 4 AT FORT WAYNE 5 (OT)
SAT. FEB. 11 FUEL 3 AT KALAMAZOO 4
SUN. FEB. 12 BRAMPTON 7 AT FUEL 4
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (3)
WED. FEB. 15 FUEL AT ALLEN 8:00 PM
FRI. FEB. 17 FUEL AT ALLEN 8:00 PM
SAT. FEB 18 FUEL AT TULSA 8:00 PM
NEXT HOME GAME: FRI. FEB. 24 VS. FORT WAYNE 7:35 PM “THE GIVING GAME” NIGHT PRESENTED BY CHN
*** ALL INDY FUEL GAMES HOME AND AWAY ARE BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ CBS SPORTS 1430 ***
THE FUEL REVIEW: Completing a physically and mentally-demanding weekend consisting of 3-games in 3-days with a rather interrupted and disrupted player roster, the Indy Fuel acquitted themselves admirably and with gallantry. Under the direction of Head Coach Bernie John, the Fuel played fiercely and fearlessly through three one-goal decision results, posting a mark of 3(0-2-1). In quest with zest of their first victory since January 27th when they throttled visiting Rapid City in a 2-0 shutout success, Indy is presently 7(0-6-1) in its last 7-outings and 12(2-9-1) through its most recent dozen efforts. With the Fuel commencing the new week with a mark of 49(14-31-4) totaling 32-points, the local hometown team has crept within 2-points of Wichita 45(15-26-4) 34, though, the Thunder do possess 4-games in hand. The men of Fuel hockey have played the first 13-games of their second-half schedule, compiling a mark of 13(3-9-1). They were 36(11-22-3) in the first half of the current campaign.
THE WEEKEND WIND-UP: During the past weekend, the Fuel confronted a daunting slate comprised of 3-games in 3-days and under 72-hours. All 3-games were tight, taut-fraught affairs with two resulting in one-goal verdicts. Friday night in Fort Wayne, the Komets overcame 3-0 and 4-2 Fuel advantages to ultimately prevail in OT, 5-4. Josh Shalla (FG), Alex Wideman, Tyler Barnes and Bryn Chyzyk connected for Indy and goaltender Jake Hildebrand made a season-high 54-saves as the Komets outshot the Fuel-men, 59-26. The Fuel are 5(0-4-1) against the K’s this year and 4(0-3-1) in the North Indiana hamlet.
Making their first appearance in Kalamazoo for the 2016-17 season on Saturday night, the Fuel could not secure 1-0 and 2-1 leads as the Wings rallied to claim a 4-3 conquest. Recently acquired rookie center Nick Bligh connected on a pair of strikes for the Indy sextet while Josh Shalla, for a second consecutive night and third straight game overall, propelled the key, early game’s FG. Goaltender Eric Levine shouldered the loss for the Fuel as the Wings evened the four-game season series at 2(1-1-0) with home ice advantage tantamount to success.
Returning home Sunday for their lone home appearance of the week and only their second of three home affairs for February, the Fuel, once again, exerted a full-out effort. On the impetus of a 3-goal second period flurry, Indy seized its second one-goal advantage of 4-3 after 40-minutes. However, Brampton’s high-tech, high octane attack took over in that fateful final frame firing 4-unanswered strikes in a 7-4 triumph. Matt Rupert registered a pair of unassisted goals for the Fuel with his second coming on the power play; Chris DeSousa and Alex Wideman caged singletons with team captain Zach Miskovic recording 2-assists. With the win, the Beast completed the sweep of the 5-game season series over the Fuel including 4-consecutive triumphs in Indianapolis.
AWAY ON LONG RUNWAY: This week, the Fuel will be embarking on some serious, ambitious travel fare as they make the long journey to Allen, TX for their second sojourn to the home of the League’s two-time reigning kingpins in the span of a month. Indy will furnish the foe for the Allen squad both Wednesday and Friday nights at 8:00 pm before they trek to Tulsa for a Saturday night 8:00 pm date with the Central Division rivals, the Oilers. Indy has assembled a collective record of 5(1-3-1) against its two southern opponents for this week; against Allen 3(0-2-1); vs. Tulsa 2(1-1-0).
ROAD WATCH PARTY AT SQUEALERS: The next Fuel road watch party takes place on Sunday, Feb. 26 as the Fuel head to Toledo to take on the Walleye. Join fellow fans at Squealers Barbecue Grill in Castleton to enjoy some great food and drink and to catch all of the action! Grab $1.50 domestic drafts and $3.00 select Sun King varieties as you cheer the team to victory!
THE GIVING GAME: The Fuel’s next home performance at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum is set for Friday night, February 24th at 7:35 pm when they rekindle rancor with their foremost archenemies, the Fort Wayne Komets. The Fuel have designated this special home date as “THE GIVING GAME” PRESENTED BY COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK. The Fuel will be joining forces with the Community Health Network Foundation’s annual “The Giving Gig.” Indy will be wearing specialty jerseys, which will be auctioned off immediately following the game with all net proceeds benefitting the Community Health Network Foundation.
FUEL SEASON TICKETS FOR 2017-18: Fuel Full-Season Ticket Plans for the 2017-18 Indy Fuel ECHL hockey season are now on sale! Purchase or renew your plan by February 28th and you will receive your seat for the 2018 ECHL All-Star Classic absolutely FREE!! Visit IndyFuelHockey.com for more information and to join our Indy Fuel team today.
MATT MAKES MAGIC: Second year left wing Matt Rupert has been an unsung, unheralded operative for the Fuel fortunes all season. One of only two Indy on-ice employees to play in every game, the former OHL London Knights standout was his customary sound and solid presence the past weekend. In 3-games, he collected 3-points including 2-electrifying strikes Sunday afternoon against Brampton. Both of his Sunday goals were of the unassisted variety with the second one the TBG on a Fuel power play producing a 4-3 Indy lead. It was Rupert’s second 2-goal game of the campaign, raising his season output to 12 with 4 of those struck on the power play to lead the team in that critical department. Having recently played in his 100th pro game, Rupert is the Fuel nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
CHRIS “D” DEALING: Third year center Chris DeSousa made his initial appearance for the Fuel for the 2016-17 season. In this his third consecutive year of patrolling the middle of the ice for Indy, he promptly proceeded to essay a 3-games’ point streak over the past weekend; 3(1-2-3) with his goal the GTG Sunday afternoon at home against Brampton.
“MISKO” THE MAESTRO: Veteran team captain Zach Miskovic wore his Fuel heart and soul on his sleeve the past weekend. With his club operating with the bare minimum of 4-defensemen, the captain distinguished himself with class, energy and remarkable endurance and staying power. For the 3-games in 3-days weekend, “Zacheroo” authored a masterful +3 enormous performance while also engineering the primary assist on his club’s first 2-goals of its 3-goal second period rally in Sunday’s scenario waged with the Beast. For the week, the captain was 3(0-2-2) +3.
THE LEADING MEN: 1- Josh Shalla (22-19-41); 2- Alex Wideman (17-24-41); 3- Kevin Lynch (11-13-24); 4- Paul Zanette (10-12-22); 5- Matt Rupert (12-7-19); 6- Kenny Ryan (6-9-15); 7- Tyler Barnes (4-8-12); 8- Bryn Chyzyk (5-7-12); 9- Nick Mattson (1-11-12); 10- Brandon Martell (0-10-10); 11- Zach Miskovic (1-9-10); 12- Nick Bligh (5-4-9).
POWER PLAY POSITIVES: The Fuel power play has displayed much significant improvement in recent game activity. When Matt Rupert uncorked his team-high 4th PPG of the season Sunday in the bout with the Beast of Brampton, it advanced and otherwise enhanced the club’s power play proficiency percentage to a sparkling 33.3%, going 4 for the last 12. The Rupert PP connection was delivered against the league’s top penalty-killing unit in foreign ice warfare, the Bramptonians of Ontario.
THE MILESTONES STORY: Josh Shalla’s goal Saturday night in Kalamazoo represented his 200th career point and his 99th pro goal. Until Sunday, Shalla had fired the Fuel’s early FG in 3-consecutive games. In his Fuel debut the past Friday night in Fort Wayne, Kenny Ryan played in his 300th pro career game. Defenseman Zach Miskovic (391) is 9-games from 400 and 8-PIM from pro career 300; (292-PIM).
FUEL FACTS: Right wing Tyler Barnes is on a 5-game point streak; 5(3-2-5); Chris DeSousa is on a 3-game streak; 3(1-2-3). The past weekend, the Fuel received back-to-back 2-goal masterpieces from Nick Bligh, Saturday in Kalamazoo and Matt Rupert Sunday afternoon against Brampton. The Fuel flashing firepower in recent action, having produced 15-GF in the last 4-games for a GFA of a prolific 3.75. When scoring 3-GF this year, the club has recorded a mark of 22(10-9-3). The third period has been their bugaboo against arch-rival Fort Wayne, being out-goaled, 16-3. Goaltender Jake Hildebrand continues to pace the ECHL in saves made with 1,034. Indy’s best month thus far this season has been November 12(6-5-1). The Fuel are 2(0-2) in OT this season and 8(2-6) dating back to 2015-16. In the OTSO, they are 3(1-2) and 7(5-2) dating back to last season. With all 3 of their OTSO affairs transpiring on the road, the Fuel have yet to compete in the OTSO on home ice for 2016-17 season.
IT’S FUEL TV TIME: All season long, all Indy Fuel Friday night and Saturday night home games are televised live in simulcast form. WTHR-TV 13 / COZI-TV will present all of the action with the Fuel’s exclusive radio flagship home of CBS SPORTS 1430. Terry Ficorelli will have the play-by-play call with Bob Kravitz and Talor Whitaker alongside.
THE DAILY FUEL FILL-UP: All Fuel hockey fans can stay up to date every day even when there is not a game. It’s “The Fuel Fix From Fic,” Monday through Friday afternoon during the Kent Sterling Show from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm on the exclusive radio flagship home of the Indy Fuel CBS SPORTS 1430.
TICKET INFORMATION: Indy Fuel tickets for all home games are available at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations or on line at indyfuelhockey.com. Call us by phone as well at (317) 925-FUEL.
SOUTH OF CHICAGO: Fill your tank at South of Chicago and Fuel your Fridays in the process! Enjoy the lunch buffet at any of the three South of Chicago Pizza & Beef locations and pick up a coupon for $3 off any ticket to a Friday Fuel home game. Must redeem coupon at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office, limit one coupon per ticket. For more information, visit nobspizza.com.