Fuel host Cincinnati on Blackhawks Night in Indy

FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES

Jan 19, 2019
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FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES

SATURDAY, JANUARY 19 - 7:35 P.M.

INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS

TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE

BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COMECHL.TV

THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (20-17-2-0) begin a home and home doubleheader with the Western Conference-leading Cincinnati Cyclones (25-7-3-3) Saturday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Central Division clash falls on Blackhawks Night in Indianapolis, with special guests Bryan Bickell and Jim Cornelison set to be in attendance. Limited tickets are still available at IndyFuelHockey.com and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.

The Fuel return to home ice with points in four of their last five outings, finishing a three-game road swing with a 1-1-1-0 record. With a 3-2 overtime victory in Fort Wayne Friday night, Indy took sole possession of fourth place in the Central Division over the Wheeling Nailers, while pulling within two points of the third place Komets. 

Head Coach Bernie John's club faces a stiff task this weekend, going up against a Cincinnati team that currently holds a six point edge over the Toledo Walleye at the top of the Central standings, and a four-point cushion over the Mountain Division-leading Tulsa Oilers in the race for first place in the West. The Cyclones enter Saturday's contest with points in five straight games and in 17 of their last 19, sporting a 13-2-1-3 record since Nov. 28. Cincinnati has only lost in regulation seven times through 38 games this season, the fewest number in the ECHL.

However, three of those losses have come at the expense of the Fuel, who hold a 3-2 lead in the 12-game season series with the Cyclones. Saturday marks the fifth of eight times the bordering rivals will meet in Indianapolis, with Indy coming out on top in three of the first four. Two third period goals from Ryan Rupert helped the Fuel pull away with a 5-2 triumph in the last meeting between the two teams, taking place on Dec. 28 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

LAST TIME OUT: Matt Rupert's goal 2:08 into overtime helped the Fuel start the weekend with two important points and a 3-2 road victory over the Komets at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Matt and twin brother Ryan combined for two goals and three assists, while Logan Nelson chipped in a goal to help Indy rally from a 1-0 deficit in the third period. Fort Wayne forced the contest beyond regulation when Brady Shaw found the net with 15 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at two. Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins was brilliant between the pipes, turning aside 36 of 38 shots for the win.

IT'S A TWIN THING: The forward combination of Matt Rupert, Ryan Rupert and Logan Nelson accounted for all three of Indy's goals Friday in Fort Wayne, with the twin brothers linking up directly for two of them. Ryan helped a shot from Matt across the goal line to get the Fuel on the board eight minutes into the third period, before Ryan found Matt for a one-timer to end the game in OT. With his goal and assist Friday, Ryan grabbed the team scoring lead with 34 points (10g, 24a) in 39 games, while Matt's three-point outing lifted him to third on the Indy roster with 30 points (16g, 14a). 

WORKING OVERTIME: After only three of Indy's first 35 games in 2018-19 were decided in overtime or a shootout, the Fuel have spent some quality time beyond regulation over the past week. Friday's game was the third time in four games Indy ventured into overtime, with the club recording a 1-0-2-0 record over that span. Overall this season the Fuel are 3-2 in games ending in 3-on-3 overtime, and 1-0 in shootouts. 

STORM CHASING: Cincinnati visits the Circle City Saturday to close out a four-game road swing, sporting a 2-0-1-0 mark from previous stops in Kansas City and Kalamazoo. Following a high-scoring 7-6 overtime loss to the Mavericks last Friday, the Cyclones rebounded with a 2-0 shutout victory the following night. Last night, Justin Vaive and Mike Marnell each tallied a goal and an assist as Cincinnati defeated the Wings by a 4-1 count. 

The Cyclones lead the ECHL in team defense, surrendering a paltry 2.45 goals against per game, while netminder Michael Houser ranks first in the league in both goals against average (1.78) and save percentage (.936). Cincinnati also owns the best penalty kill unit in the circuit, killing of 86.4% of opponents' power play opportunities.

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