Fuel take on Cyclones to begin weekend scheduleMar 9, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
FRIDAY, MARCH 9 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (27-28-2-1) aim to steer out of a recent skid and pull back into the Central Division playoff race Friday when they host the Cincinnati Cyclones (33-21-2-0) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Fuel begin a critical three-game weekend on Nickelodeon Night in Indianapolis, with puck drop slated for 7:35 p.m.
Both Indy and Cincinnati will be wearing special SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired uniforms, with SpongeBob and Patrick from the beloved Nickelodeon show set to be in attendance as well. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster locations as well as IndyFuelHockey.com.
Winless in their last four games, the Fuel enter the weekend with 57 points, five points back from the fourth-place Kansas City Mavericks for possession of the fourth and final Kelly Cup Playoff berth in the Central. Kansas City has ridden three straight victories to jump ahead of the Kalamazoo Wings, who sit four points ahead of Indy in fifth place. The Fuel will visit Kalamazoo Saturday at Wings Event Center, in a game that promises to have major playoff implications for both teams.
Back in action following four days of rest, Indy looks to rebound from a tough week that saw the club drop four straight games, including three on home ice. The skid came at the end of argubaly the most grueling portion of the Fuel's 2017-18 schedule, where they played a total of 15 games in just 24 days from Feb. 9 to March 4. The two most recent defeats came at the hands of the Utah Grizzlies, who completed a Saturday-Sunday sweep at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with 5-2 and 4-1 victories.
Conversely, the Cyclones enter Friday's contest on a five game winning streak and with an 11-3 record since the beginning of February. Sitting in third place in the Central Division, Cincinnati's recent surge served to create a bit of separation in the standings; the Cyclones enjoy a six point lead over fourth place Kansas City.
Already missing offensive standouts Justin Danforth, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and top defenseman Arvin Atwal to the AHL, the Rochester Americans recalled forwards Alex Kile and Vaclav Karabacek on Thursday. Helping to fill the scoring gap, the Cyclones did receive forward Shawn O'Donnell back from his AHL assignment last Friday.
Multi-Point Inspection: Despite missing Sunday's contest to injury, Fuel defenseman Robin Press (9g, 24a) maintains his franchise-record 11-game point streak. The blueliner has recorded four goals and 12 assists over the course of the streak, earning him ECHL Player of the Month honors for January ... Forward Alex Wideman (13g, 23a) has found the scoresheet in 10 of his last 11 games, picking up four goals and 11 assists over that span ... The Fuel (22.6%) and Cyclones (20.9%) sport the ECHL's first and second-ranked power plays respectively.
Inside The Matchup: Heading into the seventh of 10 meetings in 2017-18, the Fuel hold a 5-1 edge over their neighboring rivals to the east, including a perfect 4-0 mark in Indianapolis. After Indy won the first five encounters in the season series, Cincinnati got on the board last Friday with a 4-3 come-from-behind win at U.S. Bank Arena. While Indy has a lopsided advantage in the win column, the 2017-18 series has been incredibly tight from the beginning – all but one of the six games between the two teams has been decided by a single goal.
In the all-time series, the Fuel hold a 20-17-1-0 record against Cincinnati, including a 14-6-1-0 mark on home ice.
Scouting Report: The Cyclones have held their opponent to two goals or fewer four times during their current five-game winning streak ... Cincinnati forward Jesse Schultz (16g, 44a) leads the ECHL in power play points (25) and power play assists (22) ... Forward Dominic Zombo (2g, 18a) has tallied seven assists over his last five games.