Fuel and Cyclones begin doubleheader in Cincinnati

Fanimation Game Preview: Fuel at Cyclones

Nov 9, 2018






THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (5-4-0-0) open a home-and-home doubleheader with the Cincinnati Cyclones (6-2-2-0) Friday night at U.S. Bank Arena. The two teams meet for the first of four times this season in the Queen City, before returning to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for a rematch on Saturday.

Friday marks the second of 12 meetings this season between the Central Division rivals, with Indy grabbing a 4-1 victory in the series opener back on Oct. 19 in Central Indiana. A pair of goals from Josh Shalla sparked a three-goal second period, which broke a 1-1 tie in favor of the Fuel. 

Indy enters the weekend looking to keep pace with the Cyclones near the top of the Central Division standings. Cincinnati sits in second place with 14 points – one behind division-leading Toledo, while the Fuel find themselves in third place with 10 points.

LAST TIME OUT: The Fuel closed out a stretch of four-games in five days by claiming their first road victory of the season, defeating the Wheeling Nailers 5-3 on Saturday night at WesBanco Arena. Trailing 2-0 after one period of play, Indy ignited for five goals in the second period to spoil Wheeling's home opener. Josh Shalla (1g, 2a), Kevin Dufour (2g) and Connor Moynihan (1g, 1a) each logged multi-point nights for Indy, while goaltender Kevin Lankinen picked up his second win in as many starts with 26 saves. 

(SH)ALL TIME LEADER: While several players have made strong offensive contributions so far this season, none have done so more consistently than Josh Shalla. The forward has tallied at least a point in each of Indy's nine games, with his 14 points (4g, 10a) good for a tie for fifth on the ECHL's scoring list. Entering the season as the Fuel's all-time leading goal scorer, Shalla became the number one point producer in franchise history on Saturday in Wheeling, eclipsing Alex Wideman's mark of 103 points. Heading into what will be his 100th game in a Fuel uniform on Friday, the veteran from Oshawa, Ontario has tallied 54 goals and 52 assists since joining the team midway through the 2016-17 season.

SECOND GEAR: Indy's victory in Wheeling last Saturday followed a predictable pattern: keep it close early and take over the game with a big second period effort. The Fuel exploded for five second period goals against the Nailers, the second time this season the club was able to put up a five-spot on the board in the middle frame. Heading into the weekend, Indy's +7 goal differential in the second period is the best mark of any ECHL team, and over their five wins the Fuel have outscored opponents by a 16-4 margin. 

UP ON THE FARM: Dealing with a handful of early-season injuries, the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs came calling over the last week, recalling forwards Radovan Bondra and Connor Moynihan in addition to defensemen Neil Manning and Josh McArdle. A total of four players (Bondra, Manning, McArdle and F Brett Welychka) have seen action with the IceHogs this season after starting the year in Indianapolis, while goaltender Kevin Lankinen made a pair of starts with Rockford before being reassigned to the Fuel in early November. In total, 37 different Fuel players have gone on to play in the AHL since the team began play in 2014-15, with 27 of them playing for the IceHogs.

Reinforcements are on their way for the Fuel, as Bondra, Manning and McArdle were all reassigned to Indy on Thursday night. 

TORNADO WATCH: Indy is faced with the challenge of slowing one of the ECHL's hottest teams as they begin the weekend doubleheader with Cincinnati. Following their 4-1 loss to the Fuel back on Oct. 19, the Cyclones have picked up points in seven of their last eight games (5-1-2-0).

Undefeated on home ice with a 3-0-2 record, Cincinnati began the week with a 4-1 triumph over Wheeling on Wednesday at U.S. Bank Arena. Four different goal scorers found the back of the net, while goaltender Michael Houser yielded only one goal for the fourth time in five starts this season.

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