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Fuel Pit Stop: Week 23

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(BY TERRY FICORELLI)

THE FUEL OFFENSE COMES ALIVE WITH 15 GOALS’ EXPLOSION IN WINNING 2 OF 3 GAMES FOR THE WEEK

INDY’S TWO TRIUMPHS CATAPULTS THE CLUB INTO 6TH PLACE IN CENTRAL DIVISION; 3-2-1 LAST 6 GAMES

THE FUEL TRAVELING TO SOUTH CAROLINA FOR 3 GAMES TO BATTLE GREENVILLE AND SC STINGRAYS

 

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 3(2-1-0) 15-17

FRI. MAR. 17 FUEL 6 AT KALAMAZOO 5

SAT. MAR. 18 KALAMAZOO 5 AT FUEL 1

SUN. MAR. 19 QUAD CITY 7 AT FUEL 8

 

THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (3)

FRI. MAR. 24 FUEL AT GREENVILLE 7:00 PM

SAT. MAR. 25 FUEL AT GREENVILLE 7:00 PM

SUN. MAR. 26 FUEL AT SOUTH CAROLINA 3:00 PM

 

NEXT HOME GAMES: SAT. APRIL 1ST VS. FORT WAYNE 7:35 PM; SUN. APRIL 2ND VS. CINCINNATI 3:05 PM

*** ALL INDY FUEL GAMES HOME AND AWAY ARE BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ CBS SPORTS 1430 ***

 

THE FUEL REVIEW: It has been a month of March in which the Indy Fuel continue to make much measured improvement. Under the auspices of Head Coach Bernie John, the men of Fuel hockey have registered 8-total points through the first 8-games of the month through a record of 8(3-3-2); 6(2-2-2) 6-points at home and 2(1-1-0) 2-points on the road. In the process, the Fuel have catapulted over Wichita and into 6th place in the ECHL’s Western Conference Central Division standings. With 3-weeks and 9-total games remaining in their 72-games regular season schedule, the Fuel have compiled a mark of 63(18-39-6) for 42-points.

They launch the next new week having attained a 2-points advantage over the Wichita Thunder club 60(18-38-4) 40-points with the Thunder holding 3-games in hand. For Indy, of those remaining 9-games, 4 will be staged on home ice at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum with 5- more outings on the ECHL roadways. Continuing to amplify on the Fuel’s vastly-upgraded state of affairs at this juncture of the campaign, they have assembled and achieved a winning record over their last 6-games at 6(3-2-1), having reigned supreme in 2 of their 3- starts in as many days the past weekend. Collectively speaking, Indy’s second half season mark is 27(7-17-3); first half record; 36(11-22-3).

CAROLINA CALLING: Coming up this week for the men of Fuel is a 3-games excursion to the state of South Carolina where they will be guested by both Greenville and the South Carolina Stingrays. Indy will open a 2-games’set Friday and Saturday nights in Greenville where they will lock horns with the Swamp Rabbits in a 7:00 pm opening face-off each evening.

Then on Sunday, it’s a 3:00 pm matinee date in North Charleston where the Fuel will battle the Stingrays. It will be the initial meetings of the campaign for the Fuel against each Eastern Conference South Division member club. At the culmination of this extended foreign ice sojourn, the Fuel will have only 2-more road trips remaining with both of those on the docket at Central Division and league-leading, pace-setting Toledo.

FOUR MORE AT HOME: There are four more home games on the Fuel’s 2016-17 ECHL regular season schedule with the full quartet of appearances set for the month of April. Next home action for the Fuel will be Saturday, April 1st when they rekindle antipathies with their principal arch-rivals, the Fort Wayne Komets. The balance of their home dates will be Sunday, April 2nd opposing Cincinnati; Tuesday, April 4th vs. Quad City and Friday, April 7th against Toledo.

MADE IN AMERICA NIGHT: While hockey may have come from that country up north, the Fuel will be paying tribute to the Red, White and Blue on Saturday April 1 during Made In America Night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, presented by IBEW Local #481. To celebrate the occasion, special surprise guests will be in attendance when Indy tangles with the Fort Wayne Komets. Stay tuned to the Fuel’s social media accounts this week to find out who is coming to town, and head to IndyFuelHockey.com to grab your tickets today!

ROAD WATCH PARTY AT SQUEALERS:  The final Fuel road watch party of the season takes place on Sunday, March 26 as the Fuel take on the South Carolina Stingrays from Charleston! 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!

HIT THE HIGHWAY WITH CAVALLO BUS LINES: When the team hits the road this week, they will be doing so with Cavallo Bus Lines, the official transportation provider of the Indy Fuel! Cavallo has provided best-in-class charter bus service throughout the midwest for over 75 years, and is the perfect choice for getting your team or group where they need to go. Visit CavalloBusLines.com to learn more.

WINNING WEEKEND WRAP: It was a banner week for the hometown team as the Fuel, playing a demanding slate of 3-games in less than 72-hours, recorded a 3(2-1-0) mark with all 3-outings being bouts within their own Central Division. The emphasis was on offense for the Fuel-men who brought the Fuel to the tune of a 15-goals’ explosion over the trio of games. Broaching a 2-games, home-and-home series against Kalamazoo, the Fuel claimed game one Friday night at the Wings Event Center, 6-5. Indy extracted the foreign ice success by virtually snatching victory from the jaws of defeat by rallying with 2-late third period goals 2:18 apart beginning with only 4:35 remaining in regulation time. In eradicating a 5-4 deficit, the Fuel, in thrilling theater, dramatically, claimed the conquest in the fiercely competitive contest on strikes stoked by Jake Marchment (GTG) and Mike Neal (TBG/GWG) with Neal completing a 3-goal “hat trick” to earn the game’s #1 Star.

In the encore engagement in Indianapolis on Saturday night, the Wings exacted retribution in the form of a 5-1 triumph. Marchment accounted for the Fuel’s sole firepower at the 12:53 mark of the third period to avert the shutout.

Capping the ambitious weekend’s schedule with a Sunday matinee on home ice, the Fuel detonated a record-breaking, history-making 6-goals’ unanswered first period powder keg before staving-off a furious Quad City rally to ultimately prevail, 8-7. Kenny Ryan triggered the Fuel’s second 3-goal “hat trick” of the weekend, including the GWG/ENG at 18:35 of the third stanza. Jake Marchment (1-2-3), Josh Shalla (1-2-3) also contributed to the club’s 8-goals’ flurry.

MARCHMENT MARKSMAN: Recently obtained center/right wing Jake Marchment enjoyed his best weekend, thus far, since his advent to Indianapolis. The strapping 6-4, 225lb sparkplug was a supreme catalyst for his team, delivering 1-goal in each of the 3-games and collecting 5-total points in the process; 3(3-2-5). In addition, he posted a solid +2 rating along with an impressive 17-SOG. His 9-SOG on Saturday night against Kalamazoo represented a team season-high by a Fuel individual player in a single game. He was named the game’s #3 Star on consecutive days of Saturday and Sunday. Marchment is the Fuel’s nomination for Sher-Wood / ECHL Player of the Week.

MIGHTY MIKE: For the second consecutive week, center Mike Neal contributed mightily to the Fuel’s newly-found potent offensive attack. Engineering the 3-goal “hat trick” including the late, dramatic (TBG/GWG) with only 2:17 remaining in regulation time in Indy’s harrowing 6-5 comeback conquest of the Wings in Kalamazoo on Friday night, the former Dallas Stars draft choice authored a prolific 5-points’ weekend on 3-goals, 2-assists and 7-SOG. Neal was named the #1 Star at Kalamazoo. In his last 4-games; 4(5-3-8); last 7(7-4-11).

RYAN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: Sleek, slick center Kenny Ryan was long overdue for a major breakthrough and did, indeed, come through in a major matinee enormous performance on Sunday. Acquired by Indy from Reading earlier in the current campaign, Ryan cannonaded an electrifying 3-goal “hat trick” including the GWG/ENG to spur his club to the 8-7 Sunday success over Quad City. Named the game’s #1 Star, Ryan spiced his zesty singular assault with a pair of first period goals in a compact :32 to punctuate and otherwise culminate the Fuel’s awesome 6-goal opening period avalanche. His 2-goals in :32 are the fastest 2-goals scored by a Fuel player thus far this season.

MENTION ABOUT KENTON: Another recent Indy Fuel arrival has also asserted his presence prominently in the club’s lineup. Left wing Kenton Helgesen was unsung and unheralded the past weekend as he acted the role of pre-eminent playmaker extraordinaire expertly. For the 3-games in 3-days the past weekend, the former WHL Calgary Hitmen captain amassed 5-assists, 5-SOG and +1 rating. In his club’s 6-goals’ first period explosion Sunday against Quad City, Helgesen collected 3-assists and a brilliant +4 rating. He is averaging a point a game since coming to Indy; 8(1-7-8).

SCORING SCOURGE: The past weekend, the Fuel attack erupted volcanically to the tune of 15-GF in 3-games. During their current winning mark over the last half-dozen dates of 6(3-2-1), they have uncorked 26-GF for a GFA of a prodigious 4.33 per game. The major marquee masters: Mike Neal last 4(5-3-8); last 7(7-4-11); Josh Shalla last 6(4-5-9); last 12(7-5-12); Alex Wideman last 5(0-5-5); last 16(4-10-14); Matt Rupert last 4(3-2-5); Jake Marchment last 3(3-2-5)3-games’ goal streak; Kenton Helgesen last 3(0-5-5); last 8(1-7-8); Adam Phillips last 8(1-5-6).

POWER PLAY AT PREMIUM: For the preponderance of this season, the Fuel have been the recipients of the least number of power plays in the ECHL; in fact, somewhere around 30-35 fewer man advantages than any other team in the circuit. That fact came home to roost the past weekend as well. In their 3-games in 3-days, Indy was on the receiving end of a minuscule 3-PP opportunities; not having a single one in their late, dramatic 6-5 comeback win Friday night in Kalamazoo. When enjoying power play time, the Fuel are 3 for the last 14 for a rating of 21.4%. Where the Fuel power play did falter over the weekend was in the surrendering of 2-SHGA in those 3-PP advantages for the weekend.

PRO PREMIERS PROMISING: The Fuel introduced and infused a trio of standout collegians into their lineup the past weekend with each new club member purveying promise and potential. Left wing Shawn Hulshof enjoyed his sound and solid debut Friday night in Kalamazoo, registering 1-assist and +2 rating. Right wing Woody Hudson, the popular star of Indianapolis hockey when team captain for the USHL Indiana Ice, also earned his first pro point by assisting on one of the Fuel’s 6-first period goals on Sunday while defenseman Jack Burton appeared right at home on the Indy blue line. Hulshof comes to Indy from SUNY-Oswego; Hudson recently completed a 4-year collegiate career at St. Lawrence U.; Burton was a standout at Colby College.

MAKING MAJOR MILESTONES: Team captain and defenseman Zach Miskovic celebrated his 400th pro career game on Sunday when the Fuel outlasted Quad City, 8-7. Center Paul Zanette, who essayed (1-1-2) in his club’s 6-goal opening period onslaught on Sunday is 8-games shy of 250. He is at 242 and counting. Kenny Ryan (195) is 5-PIM from 200-PIM for his career.

FUEL FACTS: The Fuel’s 6-goal opening period outburst Sunday was not only their best of the season but also an all-time club record. Their 8-GF Sunday also represented a season single-game high. The Fuel surrendered 2-SHGA in their 3-overall power play opportunities the past weekend. Indy’s Sunday triumph over Quad City was its first in 5-games on home ice against the Mallards this season. Until then, they had fallen 4-straight times, being outscored 22-6. Their 6-first period goals matched their entire home output against the Mallards. Indy’s 2-goals in :24 in Sunday’s first period were their second fastest 2-goals of the season. The fastest is 2-goals in :18, also against Quad City back on 1/13/17 in Moline in a Fuel 6-3 victory. The Fuel’s 4-goals in 4:46 in in Sunday’s opening frame of the game were the club’s fastest 4-goals for this season. The Fuel have employed 59-players thus far this season and have only 6-players remaining from their opening night roster of 10/14/16; goaltenders Jake Hildebrand and Eric Levine; defensemen Zach Miskovic and Nick Mattson; forwards Alex Wideman and Matt Rupert. Rupert is the lone Fuel player to play in all 63-games. Josh Shalla’s 8-FG tie him for the league-leadership.  Jake Hildebrand’s 1,292-saves top the ECHL.

THE FUEL ON LIVE TV: All season long in 2016-17, all Indy Fuel Friday night and Saturday night home games are televised live in simulcast form. WTHR-TV 13 (NBC) / 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 even when there is not a game. It’s “The Fuel Fix from Fic,” Monday through Friday during the Kent Sterling Show from 3:00 – 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 CHICAGOFill 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.