Fuel begin weekend in CincinnatiMar 16, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT CYCLONES
FRIDAY, MARCH 16 - 7:35 P.M.
U.S. BANK ARENA, CINCINNATI
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (30-28-2-1) could vault themselves into playoff positioning Friday with a win over the Cincinnati Cyclones (34-23-2-0) at U.S. Bank Arena. The Central Divsion showdown is the ECHL.TV Showcase Game of the week, and can be viewed live from the ECHL's Facebook page.
After sweeping a three-game slate last weekend, the Fuel have parked themselves right on the cusp of the Central playoff picture, as the race for the fourth seed in the division heats up even further. Entering the weekend with 63 points, Indy sits one point back of the Kalamazoo Wings and Kansas City Mavericks, who are tied for fourth in the Central with 64 points each. The Wings are idle Friday, while Kansas City begins a home-and-home doubleheader with the Tulsa Oilers in Oklahoma.
The Fuel reversed a four game skid to start the month of March with three massive victories last weekend, all against teams they are chasing in the Central Division standings. Indy started with a 5-2 home triumph over Cincinnati Friday, before rallying to a 4-3 overtime win in Kalamazoo Saturday, then finishing off the weekend with a decisive 7-4 takedown of the league-leading Toledo Walleye in Toledo on Sunday.
The Cyclones' playoff prospects are a little more solidified heading into the final four weeks of the regular season. In third place with 70 points, Cincinnati enjoys a six point cushion over the Wings and Mavericks, with two games in hand over the rest of the division. Winners of six of their last eight, the Cyclones will play five of their next on home ice, where they are 7-1 since early February.
Multi Point Inspection: Fuel defensemen have combined for four goals and four assists over the last two games ... Forward Michael Neal (17g, 25a) finished with a +5 rating Sunday in Toledo, becoming the first Indy player to do so since Adam Lapsansky on Jan. 29, 2016 (vs. Evansville) ... Sporting the league's top power play unit at 22.1%, the Fuel have scored at least one power play goal in nine of their last 11 games ... Defenseman Robin Press (9g, 27a) has registered points in 13 of his last 14 outings since Feb. 14, compiling 19 points (4g, 15a) over that span.
Inside the Matchup: Facing off for the third Friday in a row, the Fuel meet the Cyclones for the eighth of 10 meetings this season – the third of four coming from the Queen City. Indy has already clinched the 2017-18 series against its neighboring rival, winning six of the first seven encounters this season. Four second period goals spurred the Fuel to a 5-2 victory over Cincinnati last Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, though the Cyclones used four unanswered goals of their own to grab a 4-3 victory in the last meeting at U.S. Bank Arena back on March 2. Five of the previous six games between Indy and Cincinnati have been decided by a single goal.
Scouting Report: Forward Brandon McNally (13g, 26a) has found the scoresheet in six of his last seven games (3g, 5a) ... Jesse Schultz (16g, 46a) leads the ECHL in assists (46), power play points (26) and power play assists (23) ... Cincinnati is 14-0 this season at home when holding the lead after two periods.