Fuel begin final weekend slate Friday against CincinnatiApr 6, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
FRIDAY, APRIL 6 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (35-29-4-1) look to take their next step toward clinching a Kelly Cup Playoff berth Friday as they take on the Cincinnati Cyclones (38-28-3-0) to begin a season-ending homestand at Indiana Farmers Colsieum.
Fan Appreciation Weekend in Indianapolis begins with the final Do317 Night of the season. Those in attendance can take advantage of $3 beer and soda, $1 hot dogs and $7 limited edition t-shirts throughout the night. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster and at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
The Fuel enter the final three days of the ECHL regular season in control of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, with a one point lead over the Kalamazoo Wings. Indy moved into fourth place Tuesday with a 4-1 road victory over the Kansas City Mavericks – who now sit two points back of the Fuel with only two games left on their schedule.
After finding themselves as much as nine points out of fourth place back in early February, the Fuel have picked up points in 10 of their last 11 games (8-1-2-0) and are now in control of their playoff lives with three games left to play. Following Friday's series finale with Cincinnati, Indy will take on the Central Division champion Toledo Walleye Saturday, before a Sunday matinee with Kalamazoo that could determine which team advances to take on Toledo in the Division Semifinals.
Cincinnati enters the final weekend in third place in the Central, and can clinch their Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a point in Indianapolis. A victory Friday will lock up the third seed for the Cyclones, setting up a first round match-up with the Fort Wayne Komets. Closing out the season with a three-game road swing through the Central, Cincinnati has won three of their last four outings, including a 3-2 overtime win against Fort Wayne on last Friday.
CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS
|1||xy - Toledo||2||49||16||3||2||103||48|
|2||x - Fort Wayne||3||44||19||5||1||94||43|
(Top four teams qualify for the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, x - clinched playoff berth, y - clinched division)
Clutch In K.C.: The Fuel jumped inside the Central Division playoff bubble Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Two goals from Logan Nelson helped Indy build a 3-0 lead in the second period, while goaltender Étienne Marcoux stopped 42 shots to withstand a late Kansas City push. Josh Shalla also scored for the Fuel, who finished the season 4-1 against the Mavericks, including a pair of wins in the last week.
Multi-Point Inspection: The Fuel have outscored their opponents 9-1 in the first period over the last five games ... Forward Logan Nelson (9g, 25a) has logged at least two points in each of his last three games, tallying four goals and four assists over the same span ... Indy has scored the first goal in seven straight games ... Since returning from his AHL loan with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, goaltender Étienne Marcoux is 5-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .938 SV%.
Inside The Matchup: The Fuel and Cyclones close their 10-game season series Friday in Indianapolis. Indy heads into the 2017-18 finale with a 7-2 record against Cincinnati this season, winning each of the previous five meetings at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. While the Fuel hold a commanding lead in the win-loss ledger, the two teams have played each other close all season – with six of the first nine games being decided by a single goal.
Cyclones forwards Jesse Schultz and Justin Vaive lead the season series in scoring with 10 and nine points respectively, while Indy's Darian Dziurzynski and Michael Neal have each tallied four goals and four assists against Cincinnati.
Scouting Report: The Cyclones had three players receive end-of-season league honors on Thursday, with forwards Jesse Schultz, Justin Danforth (on recall with AHL Rochester), and defenseman Eric Knodel all named to the All-ECHL Second Team ... Defenseman Eric Knodel (13g, 35a) ranks second among active ECHL defensemen with 48 points, including eight assists over his last eight games ... Cincinnati's power play ranks second in the ECHL at 20.4%.