Fuel finish road swing Friday in WheelingFeb 2, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT NAILERS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2 - 7:05 P.M.
WESBANCO ARENA, WHEELING, W.V.
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (19-19-2-1) look to wrap up a perfect road swing Friday as they visit WesBanco Arena for a inter-conference showdown with the Wheeling Nailers. Puck drop from West Virginia is set for 7:05 p.m., and can be caught live on 1070TheFan.com/IndyFuel or through ECHL.TV.
The red-hot Fuel club returns to action after winning three divisional road games in three days last weekend. Winners of six of its last eight and 10 out of 14, Indy battled back to a .500 record with an 5-4 overtime win in Cincinnati last Friday, before sweeping a back-to-back series in Kalamazoo with 5-3 and 5-2 triumphs at Wings Event Center.
With just two games on this weekend's slate, the Fuel (41 points) enter Friday just five points behind the Cyclones (46 points) for fifth place in the Central Division; nine points behind the fourth-place Wings (50 points) and playoff positioning (Indy does own two games in hand on Kalamazoo). Following the showdown with the Nailers, the Fuel return to Indiana Farmers Coliseum Saturday night to take on the Central-leading Toledo Walleye.
Indy faces a tough test Friday in the form of a Nailers club that has picked up points in nine of its last 11 contests (7-1-1-0). Heading into the fifth game of a seven-game homestand, Wheeling carded a 1-1-1 record over the weekend – falling in overtime to the Reading Royals before splitting a doubleheader with the Manchester Monarchs.
The Nailers find themselves in the middle of a fierce battle atop the North Division standings, with just four points separating first from fourth place. With 54 points, Wheeling is tied for second with the Adirondack Thunder, both teams just two points shy of first-place Manchester.
Enter February: Indy kicks off a busy February slate this weekend, one that sees them play 14 games in a 26-day span. During the month the Fuel will be faced with three separate three-in-three sets, as well as a daunting stretch of seven games in 10 days from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18. Eight of Indy's 14 February games will be played away from Indiana Farmers Coliseum, including a season-long seven game trip through five cities from Feb. 9 to Feb. 18.
Roster Shuffle: Indy enters the weekend a different-looking team than a week ago, thanks to another round of AHL call-ups. The Fuel swapped out a pair of netminders on Wednesday, as All-Star rookie Étienne Marcoux inked a PTO with the Springfield Thunderbirds, while the Washington Capitals reassigned rookie prospect Adam Carlson to Indy. Then on Thursday, forward Nathan Noel was reassigned to the Fuel's AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs.
From Indy to the Show: The Fuel were not just advancing players to the AHL this week. Former Indy defenseman Justin Holl became the first Fuel alumnus to skate in the NHL, when he made his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.
Not only did he play, the 26-year-old did something no other defenseman in Maple Leafs history has ever done – score a goal in each of his first two games. Holl tallied a third-period goal in Toronto's 5-0 win over the New York Islanders Wednesday, before finding the net again Thursday as the Leafs blanked the Rangers.
Multi Point Inspection: Indy finished January with a 7-5 record, including a 5-2 mark on the road ... Étienne Marcoux is the eighth player this season to receive an AHL call-up this season ... Defenseman Robin Press (4g, 10a) has tallied a goal and an assist in two consecutive games ... Forward Ryan Rupert (9g, 19a) has eight points (4g, 4a) over his previous six outings ... Indy ranks third in the ECHL with 10 shorthanded goals
Inside the Matchup: The Fuel and Nailers are closing out their five game season series tonight at WesBanco Arena. Both teams have taken two of the first four meetings, with each of the last three games being decided by a single goal. Indy has a 1-1 record at WesBanco Arena entering Friday's action, claiming a 3-2 victory during the club's previous visit back on New Year's Eve. The Fuel own a 7-5-1-0 all-time record against the Pittsburgh Penguins affiliate, with a 3-2-0-0 mark in West Virginia.
Scouting Report: Rookie forward Reid Gardiner (26g, 17a) has scored in six of his last seven outings, racking up a total of 10 goals and two assists over that span. Gardiner's 43 points this season ranks second among all ECHL first-year players ... Cody Wydo (18g, 25a) enters the weekend on a six game point streak, compiling four goals and six assists ... Wheeling's power play is tops in the league at 21.2%.