Fuel host first-place Cyclones Friday night in Indianapolis
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONESMar 8, 2019
FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
FRIDAY, MARCH 8 - 7:35 PM
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (27-27-2-1) begin another three-game weekend Friday night when they welcome the ECHL-leading Cincinnati Cyclones (40-10-4-3) to Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The puck drops between the Central Division rivals at 7:35 p.m. ET on 90s Night, with special guest John O'Hurley set to be in attendance.
The Fuel look to avenge a lopsided 8-2 loss suffered last Friday in Cincinnati when they meet the first-place Cyclones in the first of two home games this weekend. Following Friday's contest, Indy heads north for a critical meeting with the Kalamazoo Wings, before returning to the Circle City for a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Toledo Walleye.
Squaring off with Cincinnati for the second of four times over the month of March, the Fuel are looking to snap a four-game losing streak against their bordering rivals. Indy opened the 2018-19 season series with back-to-back wins, but the Cyclones have responded by winning six of the last seven dating back to Nov. 10.
The Fuel have held their own on home ice against the top-ranked Cincinnati club, picking up points in four of five games played at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. In fact, out of the Cyclones' 10 regulation losses to date this season, three of them have come in Central Indiana. Following Friday's contest, the two teams will meet up again in Indianapolis on March 24 and March 30.
LAST TIME OUT: Goaltender Kaden Fulcher stopped 27 shots as the Toledo Walleye blanked the Fuel 5-0 Sunday afternoon at the Huntington Center. Toledo used three goals in the second period – including a pair of power play tallies – to stretch an early 1-0 lead. Fuel netminder Gordon Defiel turned aside 32 shots in the loss, 14 of his saves coming in the first period.
CRUNCH TIME: With 15 games to play in its regular season schedule, Indy enters Friday's action looking to stay in the playoff race in the ultra-competitive Central Division. With Fort Wayne's win over Wheeling on Wednesday night, the Fuel (57 points) now sit six points back of both the Komets and the Kalamazoo Wings for possession of the final two playoff spots in the division, with Fort Wayne still owning a game in hand. Currently in sixth place in the Central, Indy trails the fifth-seeded Nailers by four points, though Wheeling has played two more games as of Friday.
FIRST ON THE DANCE FLOOR: On the other end of the Central Division standings, the Cyclones have already punched their ticket to the postseason. With Wheeling's loss Wednesday, Cincinnati became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by the SmileDirectClub. Sporting a 9-1-1-0 record since Feb. 10, the Cyclones hold a whopping 13-point lead over the next best team in the Western Conference.
Cincinnati is coming off a 4-2 loss in Kalamazoo on Sunday, ending what was 10-game point streak. The Wings strung together four unanswered goals to build a 4-1 lead late, before Myles Powell picked up a late goal for the Cyclones to make it 4-2.
OTHER NOTABLES: The Fuel are two home wins shy of matching a franchise record for most home victories in a single season (20) ... Cyclones forward Jesse Schultz leads the ECHL in points (68) and assists (50), entering Friday's game on an eight game points streak (5g, 9a) ... Indy forward Anthony Collins was issued an eight game suspension following Sunday's loss in Toledo, and is eligible to return to the lineup on March 24 against Cincinnati ... The Cyclones rank first in the ECHL in both team offense (3.98 goals per game) and team defense (2.39 goals allowed per game).
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