Fuel move into playoff position with 4-1 victory in Kansas City
Nelson scores twice, Marcoux stops 42 as Indy jumps over Kalamazoo in Central Division standingsApr 3, 2018
INDEPENDENCE, MO. – The Indy Fuel have put themselves in the driver’s seat to earn their first Kelly Cup Playoff berth in franchise history. With a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks (34-30-4-1) Tuesday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, the Fuel (35-29-4-1) have moved into fourth place in the ECHL’s Central Division standings, taking control of the division’s final playoff spot.
With three games left to play in the regular season, Indy holds a one-point lead over the Kalamazoo Wings, who they hurdled with Tuesday’s road win. The Fuel will play the remainder of their 2017-18 schedule on home ice, during a weekend set at Indiana Farmers Coliseum ending with a Sunday meeting with Kalamazoo.
Logan Nelson tallied a pair of goals for the Fuel, who won their third straight game and extended a points streak to seven (5-0-2-0). Indy scored the first three goals of the game, before clamping down on the hometown Mavericks down the stretch. Étienne Marcoux carded another stellar performance in goal, stopping 42 shots – including all 19 he faced in the third period of play.
Entering the game in a fifth-place tie with Kansas City in the Central standings, the Fuel only needed 39 seconds to seize the upper hand. Michael Neal threaded a perfect cross-ice pass to Nelson on the far post, who beat a diving Mason McDonald (29 saves) to put Indy on top in the first minute of the contest.
Indy doubled the lead just after the halfway point of the opening period, when reigning ECHL Player of the Week Josh Shalla potted his 25th goal of the campaign. Forward Alex Wideman began the play in transition, gaining the Kansas City zone with speed before dropping a pass to defenseman Brandon Anselmini. Anselmini’s initial shot caromed directly to Shalla at the right circle, who swatted in the rebound for a 2-0 Fuel lead.
The ECHL’s top-ranked power play struck halfway through the second period to put Indy up by three. Again it was Neal who found Nelson, this time along the goal line to the right of the Kansas City net. Facing a sharp angle, Nelson beat McDonald under the crossbar for his ninth goal of the season. The forward now has eight points over his last three games, including four goals and two assists in two meetings with the Mavericks.
Corey Durocher got Kansas City on the board at 14:30 of the second period, when he snapped a wrist shot over Marcoux’s glove.
Marcoux and the Fuel defense would surrender nothing more in the third period, as Indy withstood a frenzied push from a Mavericks team desperate to climb back into the game. Timely saves from the rookie netminder, and a pair of clutch penalty kills from the Fuel shorthanded unit helped preserve the two-goal cushion until Ryan Rupert was able to ice the game with an empty net tally at 17:43.
Indy finished a flawless 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, while the Fuel power play scored once in two attempts.
The Fuel begin their regular season-ending homestand Friday against the Cincinnati Cyclones, before welcoming the Central Division Champion Toledo Walleye to Indiana Farmers Coliseum Saturday. That sets up a potential winner-moves-on contest with Kalamazoo on Sunday afternoon, with a first-round matchup with Toledo at stake.
Single game tickets for the final weekend of the regular season are available through Ticketmaster or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office! Don’t miss a second of the action during the 2017-18 season – follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like’ the Fuel on Facebook.
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