Fuel try to keep pace in Central race Friday against Fort WayneMar 23, 2018
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. KOMETS
FRIDAY, MARCH 23 - 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 (31-29-3-1) begin a two-game weekend slate Friday as they take on the Fort Wayne Komets (42-17-4-1) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The showdown between Hoosier State rivals is set for a 7:35 p.m. puck drop in Indianapolis, with tickets available through Ticketmaster and in person at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
With points in five of their last six outings (4-1-1-0), the Fuel sit four points behind the Kalamazoo Wings in the battle for fourth place ECHL Central Division standings, two points back of the fifth-place Kansas City Mavericks. Eight games remain on Indy's regular season schedule, with six of them taking place in the Circle City. Kalamazoo pulled in front of the three-team race for the Central's final playoff berth with back-to-back wins on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Fuel come into Friday's game on the heels of a thrilling 4-3 overtime triumph Tuesday night in Cincinnati. Ryan Rupert's overtime power play goal thwarted a comeback effort from the hometown Cyclones, who used a hat trick from Justin Vaive to push the game past regulation, erasing Indy leads of 2-0 and 3-2. Darian Dziurzynski notched a pair of helpers for the Fuel, who received points from 10 different skaters in the extra-time victory.
Having already clinched their berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Komets enter the weekend trying to keep their hope for a Central Division title alive. Fort Wayne currently trails the first-place Toledo Walleye by eight points, though the Komets have played two fewer games.
Indy's crosstown rival has just one win in its last five outings (1-2-2-0), picking up three points from a three-game road swing through the North Division over the weekend before falling 3-2 in overtime to Kalamazoo on Wednesday night.
CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS
(Top four teams qualify for the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs)
Robin's Record Watch: Robin Press' (9g, 29) next point will set a new single-season franchise record for points from a defenseman. The blueliner's assist on Ryan Rupert's overtime winner Tuesday was his 38th point of the season, matching the mark set by Nick Bruneteau in 2014-15. Press is three goals away from tying Ben Marshall's team record of 12 set in 2015-16.
Multi-Point Inspection: Three of Indy's last five games have been decided in overtime ... Forwards Ryan Rupert, Michael Neal and Matt Rupert are all tied for the Fuel lead with four game-winning goals apiece, with two of Ryan's goals coming after regulation ... Forward Darian Dziurzynski (22g, 24a) has one goal, seven assists and a plus-five rating over his last five games ... Forward Josh Shalla (18g, 19a) has scored in three of his last four games.
Inside The Matchup: Fort Wayne has won six of the first seven games this season in the Hoosier State rivalry, heading into the eighth of nine meetings Friday night. Indy is looking to break a string of six straight losses to the Komets on home ice, which dates back to March of last season.
The previous encounter between the two clubs took place over a month ago, when Fort Wayne claimed a 4-2 victory at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 14. Komets forward Gabriel Desjardins leads the season series with 10 points (4g, 6a) in six games, while Indy's Michael Neal has marked five goals and three assists in six games against Fort Wayne.
Scouting Report: Four Komets sit among the ECHL's top five players in plus/minus, with Shawn Szydlowski leading the league with a plus-40 rating ... Szydlowski (28g, 44a) also leads the league scoring race with 72 points, with a three point cushion over Manchester's Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman and Cincinnati's Jesse Schultz ... Forward Marcus Basara (6g, 8a) has found the scoresheet in three straight games since signing with the Komets on March 15.