Streaking Fuel begin weekend set against Fort WayneJan 4, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. KOMETS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: Looking for their fourth straight victory, the Indy Fuel (12-15-2-1) open a home-and-home series with the Fort Wayne Komets (20-9-2-0) Friday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Tickets for the 7:35 p.m. puckdrop between the Hoosier State rivals are still available through Ticketmaster and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
The Fuel open the 2018 portion of their schedule after picking up wins in their last three games, and four of their last five. Indy grabbed six of a possible eight points last week from a grueling post-Christmas stretch that saw the club play four times in five days in four different cities.
In their last game action, the Fuel rallied from a first-period deficit to defeat the Wheeling Nailers 3-2 on New Year's Eve in West Virginia. Defenseman Riley Sweeney tallied twice for the visitors, while goaltender Étienne Marcoux logged another stellar performance with 43 saves.
Meanwhile, the Komets are looking to bounce back after getting thumped 8-3 by the Kalamazoo Wings Wednesday on home ice. The lopside loss followed a dominant end of 2017 for Fort Wayne, who entered Wednesday's contest 12-2 in their last 14 games; recording three shutouts over their last five outings. The Komets have creeped within a single point of Toledo at the top of the Central Division standings, with a game in hand.
Look Who's Back: Fuel Head Coach Bernie John made a big splash Thursday afternoon when he added 2016-17 leading scorer Josh Shalla to the roster. The veteran forward notched a career-high 60 points (32g, 28a) last season, including 22 goals and 20 assists in 48 games with the Fuel.
A high-scoring forward who can make things happen with both skill and size, Shalla was at his best last season when Indy squared off against Fort Wayne. In nine games of the Hooiser State rivalry, the native of Oshawa, Ontario torched the Komets for 11 goals and five assists.
ET on Top: The Fuel picked up a handful of individual accolades over the week, beginning on Wednesday when goaltender Étienne Marcoux was tabbed the CCM/ECHL Rookie of the Month for December. In nine appearances over the month, the first-year puck stopper posted a 5-3-0 record, a 2.07 goals against average and a .947 save percentage. Overall this season, Marcoux leads the league with a .940 save percentage, while ranking third among ECHL goaltenders with a 2.33 goals against average.
Seeing Stars: A pair of Fuel players will be representing the hometown team next weekend when the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic arrives at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Forward Michael Neal was selected to the Central Division All-Star roster, while Marcoux will take the net for the North Division. The league's four divisions will face off in a 3-on-3 tournament on Monday, January 15 as the ECHL's midseason showcase takes place in Indianapolis.
Inside the Matchup: The Fuel are looking for their first win of the season against Fort Wayne, after the Komets took the first three meetings of the 2017-18 season series. Most recently, Fort Wayne swept a home-and-home series with identical 5-2 scores from Dec. 15-16.
Komets forward Shawn Szydlowski leads the season series with four goals and three assists in three games against Indy, while forward Michael Neal paces the Fuel with four goals against Fort Wayne.
Scouting Report: Szydlowski (18g, 21a) has assumed the top spot in the ECHL's scoring race, netting 39 points in 21 games. The forward has tallied 16 points (9g, 6a) over his last eight contests ... Goaltender Michael Houser was named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December, after posting a 9-1-0 record, a 1.91 goals against average, a .939 save percentage, and two shutouts in 11 appearances last month.