Fuel head to Wheeling for New Year's EveDec 31, 2017
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT NAILERS
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31 - 6:05 P.M.
WESBANCO ARENA, WHEELING, W.V.
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (11-15-2-1) go for their third win in a row Sunday as they close the 2017 portion of their schedule at WesBanco Arena with a New Year's Eve battle with the Wheeling Nailers (16-13-2-0). The puck drops from West Virginia at 6:05 p.m. ET, and fans back in Indianapolis can follow the action live on ECHL.TV and 1070TheFan.com/IndyFuel.
After coming back from holiday break with a 5-2 loss in Toledo on Wednesday, the Fuel have responded with two straight victories. Indy downed the Kalamazoo Wings 5-3 on the road Thursday, before following it up with a gritty 2-1 triumph over the Cincinnati Cyclones Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
Darian Dziurzynski and Johnny McInnis scored to build a 2-0 lead halfway through the second period, and a full team defensive effort helped Indy hang on for its second consecutive win over the Cyclones.
Triumphant in three of their last four outings, the Fuel have pulled within four points of fifth-place Kalamazoo in the Central Division standings. Indy sits 10 points behind Kansas City for possession of fourth place and the Central's final playoff berth, though the Fuel have five games in hand on the Mavericks.
On the other side, the Nailers are looking to end 2017 on a high note after what has been an underwhelming final month of the calendar year. Wheeling enters Sunday on a two game skid and with four losses in its last six games; possessing a record of 5-8-0-0 in December.
The Nailers' two most recent setbacks have come against Central Division foes – a 5-2 loss in Fort Wayne on Friday, followed by a 5-4 defeat at WesBanco Arena last night at the hands of the Toledo Walleye.
The Fast And The Dziurious: Darian Dziurzynski (5g, 6a) continues his torrid play since a trade brought him to Indy. The forward scored just over a minute into regulation Saturday to give Indy a 1-0 lead over Cincinnati; his third goal in two games. In just four appearances with the Fuel, Dziurzynski has four goals and two assists.
Powering On: Indy's power play has begun to click again as 2017 draws to a close. With Johnny McInnis' second period power play goal on Saturday, the Fuel have now cashed in with the man advantage in each of their last three games, humming at a 40% clip over that span (4/10). Overall, Indy sits in a four-way tie for sixth in the ECHL with a 19.8 success rate on the power play.
Watching The Puck Drop: Historically Indy hasn't had the best of luck when it comes to playing on the last day of the calendar year. The Fuel are 0-3 all-time on Dec. 31, all three games taking place on the road. Conversely, Wheeling has played at home on NYE in five of the last six seasons, holding a 1-3-1-0 mark over those games.
Moving On Up: Goaltender Matt Tomkins became the 26th former Fuel player to see action in an AHL game Saturday when he stopped 25 shots for the Rockford IceHogs in a 6-2 road loss to the Chicago Wolves. Tomkins is the fourth player this season to play in Rockford after spending time in Indy (Collin Delia, Robin Press, Brandon Anselmini), and the 19th player to dress for the Fuel and IceHogs.
Inside the Matchup: The Nailers hold a 2-1 lead in the season series heading into the fourth of five meetings this year between the two clubs. In the previous encounter, an Indy comeback effort was thwarted in a 3-2 loss at WesBanco Arena on Dec. 12. The Fuel hold a 2-2 all-time record in West Virginia entering Sunday's action.
Scouting Report: Wheeling is currently without two of their top three point scorers, as Cody Wydo and Reid Gardiner were both recalled to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday ... Forward Cam Brown (6g, 24a) has found the scoresheet in seven of his last eight games, tallying three goals and six assists over that span ... Rookie forward Riley Bourbonnaise (6g, 9a) has scored three goals in his last two games.