Fuel and Cyclones close season series Saturday in Indianapolis
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONESMar 30, 2019
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
SATURDAY, MARCH 30 - 7:35 PM
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (33-30-2-2) look to continue their push for a playoff berth Saturday night as they take on the league-leading Cincinnati Cyclones (48-12-4-3) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Saturday is Made in America Night in the Circle City, presented by IBEW Local #481 and Big Woods Speedway, with special guest Dave Christian of the 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team set to be in attendance. Tickets are still available at IndyFuelHockey.com and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
The Fuel improved to a perfect 3-0 to start a season-long five game homestand with a 2-1 shootout win Friday night over the Kalamazoo Wings. With the victory, Indy pulled within three points of Kalamazoo in the race for fourth place in the Central Division, with each team having five games left on their schedules. However, the sixth-place Wheeling Nailers kept their postseason hopes with a win Friday against the Fort Wayne Komets, remaining just two points back of the Fuel.
Winners of six of its last seven on home ice, Indy puts its three-game winning streak on the line Saturday against the top-ranked Cyclones, who were idle on Friday night. Cincinnati makes its final regular season trip to the Circle City looking to avenge a 7-6 Fuel victory at Indiana Farmers Coliseum last Sunday, where the club nearly rallied back from a 7-2 deficit with four straight third period goals. Entering the weekend atop the ECHL with 103 points, the Cyclones can take one step closer to clinching the Brabham Cup with a victory Saturday – needing just three points over its last five games to finish ahead of the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Everblades.
While Cincinnati has won seven of 11 meetings in the I-74 rivalry this season, the Fuel given the Cyclones all they can handle in Central Indiana, sporting a record of 4-2-0-1 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Cincinnati forward Jesse Schultz leads the season series with one goal and 12 assists in 11 games against Indy, while Fuel forward Ryan Rupert has 12 points (7g, 5a) in 11 outings with Cincinnati – including four points in last Sunday's win.
LAST TIME OUT: Goaltender Matt Tomkins carded another stellar performance, while Ryan Rupert potted the shootout game-winner as Indy edged the Kalamazoo Wings 2-1 on Friday night in Indianapolis. Tomkins outduelled Wings netminder Ivan Kubalkov with 31 saves through regulation and overtime, before going three-for-three in the skills competition to help the Fuel earn the game's second point. Indy forward Mathew Thompson scored to break a scoreless tie in the third period, before Kalamazoo's Michael Neal evened the score with under two minutes left in regulation.
PROTECTING HOME ICE: Indy has kept rolling on home ice down the home stretch, picking up its fourth straight win Friday against Kalamazoo. The Fuel are 8-3-0-0 over their last 11 contests at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and boast a franchise-best mark of 22-9-1-1 in their own building this season. Following this weekend's three-in-three tripleheader in Central Indiana, Indy wraps up the home portion of its schedule next Friday against Fort Wayne.
TOMMER TIME: Backstopping the Fuel to their late season surge is goaltender Matt Tomkins, who improved to 6-1-1 in his last eight starts with 31 saves on Friday. Since March 9, the second-year netminder has posted a 1.96 GAA, a .931 SV% and one shutout, holding opponents to two or fewer goals in six of his last eight starts. Overall this season, Tomkins holds a 28-18-4 record, leading the ECHL in wins and minutes played (3,038).
OTHER NOTABLES: Fuel forward Mathew Thompson extended a point streak to five games with a goal Friday, and has now tallied 15 points (7g, 8a) over his last 10 games ... Four of Cincinnati's 12 regulation losses this year have come at Indiana Farmers Coliseum ... Indy improved to 2-2 in games decided in a shootout this season with Friday's victory ... The Cyclones lead the league in both team offense (4.01 goals per game) and team defense (2.43 goals against per game) ... Cincinnati boasts four players ranked among the top 20 in ECHL scoring.
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