Fuel begin road swing in CincinnatiJan 26, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT CYCLONES
FRIDAY, JANUARY 26 - 7:35 P.M.
U.S. BANK ARENA, CINCINNATI, OHIO
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (16-19-2-1) begin a critical three-game weekend Friday as they make their first trip to U.S. Bank Arena to take on the Cincinnati Cyclones (22-15-1-0). Fans back in Indianapolis can follow the action live on 1070TheFan.com/IndyFuel or through ECHL.TV.
The Fuel make the trip across I-74 to kick off another three-in-three set, while starting a four-week stretch that sees the club play 11 of their next 12 games away from Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Following Friday's contest at U.S. Bank Arena, Indy heads to Wings Event Center for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Kalamazoo Wings.
This weekend figures to have significant ramifications for the Central Division playoff picture. Entering the weekend in sixth place with 35 points, the Fuel sit 10 points back of Cincinnati and 11 behind Kalamazoo for possession of fourth place and the Central's final postseason berth. With 16 of Indy's next 18 games coming against divisional rivals – including seven against the Cyclones or Wings – the Fuel could either find themselves right back in the playoff hunt or out of the race completely by early March.
Despite sporting an 8-5-0-0 mark over its last 13 games, Indy arrives in Cincinnati looking to break a two game skid. After winning three straight from Jan. 13-20, the Fuel fell in Kalamazoo Sunday before suffering a 5-3 setback Tuesday on home ice against the Fort Wayne Komets. Down 4-1 early in the third period, goals from Josh Shalla and Johnny McInnis brought Indy back within striking distance before the Komets put the game away with a late tally from Artur Tyanulin.
Cincinnati heads into Friday's action looking to climb back into playoff positioning, after getting leapfrogged by Kalamazoo over the weekend. The Cyclones veered out of a four-game losing streak Sunday, rallying from an early deficit to defeat the Quad City Mallards 6-5 in overtime. Justin Vaive's game-winner in the extra session completed a hat trick, helping Cincinnati overcome deficits of 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4.
Doing Lots of Hockey: Currently in the midst of a stretch of seven games in 10 days, the Fuel are fully into the busiest portion of their 2017-18 schedule. This weekend marks the second of seven three-in-three sets Indy will face over the next eight weeks – a span that has the club playing 23 games in 45 days overall.
All Power to the Play: Despite coming up short on the scoreboard Tuesday against Fort Wayne, the Fuel power play unit continued to produce at an impressive rate. Indy scored once on two chances with the man advantage against the Komets, extending the club's streak to five straight games with a power play goal. During that five game span, the Fuel are clicking at a blistering 30.4% (7/23) with the extra man, while their power play is up to second in the ECHL overall at 20.4% (30/146).
Multi Point Inspection: Indy is the only team in the ECHL to rank in the top five in both power play and penalty kill (5th - 85.4%) efficiency ... The Fuel are 15-5-1-0 when giving up three or fewer goals to their opponent ... Forward Johnny McInnis (10g, 8a) is on a five game point streak, tallying three goals and two assists over that span ... With a goal and an assist on Tuesday, Josh Shalla (8g, 3a) has logged multiple points in four of his eight games this season.
Inside the Matchup: After three straight contests in Indianapolis to start their 10-game season series, the Fuel and Cyclones meet for the first time at U.S. Bank Arena in 2017-18. Indy has won each of the three first encounters, with the previous two games being decided by a single goal. The two teams last met last Saturday, when a late goal from Michael Neal broke a third-period deadlock in a 3-2 Fuel victory.
Indy leads the all-time series against their neighboring rival 18 wins to 17, though Cincinnati has won 10 of the 15 games played at U.S. Bank Arena. The Fuel have lost four in a row in the Queen City dating back to 2016-17, with their last win coming on the second day of the reguar season – a 2-1 triumph on Oct. 15, 2016.
Scouting Report: The Cyclones lost a pair of players to their AHL affiliate in Rochester Thursday, as leading scorer Justin Danforth and defensemen Arwin Atwal were both recalled ... Justin Vaive (14g, 5a) has scored in each of his last three games, including a hat trick Sunday against Quad City ... Forward Daniel Muzito-Bagenda (4g, 13a) has five points in his last two games (1g, 4a).