Fuel wrap up road swing with first visit to Quad CityNov 3, 2017
GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT MALLARDS
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3 - 8:05 P.M.
TAXSLAYER CENTER - MOLINE, ILL.
BROADCAST INFO: 1070TheFan.com, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (2-3-1-0) wrap up a four-game road swing with their first visit to the Quad City Mallards (3-3-0-0) Friday night at TaxSlayer Arena. Indy's first Central Division test of the 2017-18 season is slated for a 8:05 p.m. ET puck drop, with coverage beginning at 7:35 p.m. on 1070TheFan.com and ECHL.TV.
The Fuel head to Moline on the heels of a three-game trip to Estero, Fla. last week, where they took one win from the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Everblades. After Indy handed Florida its first loss of the season with a 5-2 victory on Friday night, the Everblades responded with a 5-2 triumph in Saturday's rubber match.
Three straight goals from the home team put the Fuel in a 3-0 hole early in the second period on Saturday, a cushion just big enough to survive a late Indy push. Forwards Nick Bligh and Alex Wideman found the back of the net to trim Florida's lead to a single goal, but an empty-net tally from John McCarron sealed the win for the Everblades.
Moving forward, Indy is faced with its first three-games in three-days stretch of the season, beginning Friday in Moline. The Fuel then return to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for a pair of home games, hosting the Wheeling Nailers on Saturday night and the Toledo Walleye on Sunday afternoon.
The Mallards enter the weekend winners of two straight, both 3-2 decisions at TaxSlayer Center over the visiting Idaho Steelheads on Oct. 27-28. Each game was tied at 2-2 after regulation time, but Quad City prevailed in a shootout Friday night before forward Sam Warning provided the overtime game-winner in Saturday's rematch.
Uneven Strength: Indy has been exceptional in special teams situations through the first three weeks of the ECHL season. The Fuel rank third on the power play, operating at a 26.3% clip after six games (9/34), and setting a franchise record with goals in five straight games to start the season.
On the penalty kill Indy occupies the fourth spot in the league rankings, staving off 90.9% of their opponents' chances (20/22).
Where the Fuel are looking to improve is in 5-on-5 play. Only seven of Indy's 17 goals this season have come at even strength.
Flip The Calendar: Indy wrapped up the October portion of their schedule with five points and a 2-3-1-0 record, identical to the club's mark through six games last season. A total of 10 games await the Fuel in the month of November, seven of them taking place on home ice. After another weekend trip to Quad City Nov. 11-12, Indy finishes the month with five straight games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum from Nov. 14-25.
Battle Tested: Indy has had arguably the toughest schedule of any team up to this point. The Fuel's three previous opponents (Wichita, Tulsa, Florida) have a combined 17-4-0-1 record heading into Friday's action, with the Everblades and Thunder taking the first and second spots respectively in the ECHL standings. Despite the opposition's success, Indy has been winning, tied or within one goal in the third period of every game this season.
Meeting The Central: Friday marks the first of 54 games Indy will play against Central Division foes this season, making up three-fourths of the Fuel's overall schedule. Ten of Indy's next 12 games, and 18 of its next 23 dating to Dec. 30, will come against Divisional opponents.
The Fuel enter Week 4 in a fifth-place tie in what is shaping up to be an ultra-tight race in the Central. Only four points separate the first-place Kalamazoo Wings from the bottom of the table, while only one point stands between the third and seventh place teams.
Marc It Down: With Matt Tomkins on injured reserve and Collin Delia still assigned to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, rookie netminder Étienne Marcoux figures to make his first appearance of the season Friday night. The 24-year-old is coming off a successful two-year stint with the University of New Brunswick, where he posted a 31-4-0 record with a 1.86 GAA and a .915 SV%. Marcoux made his pro debut back in 2014-15, when he finished with a 2-5-1 mark in nine ECHL appearances with Utah and Rapid City.
Inside the Matchup: Friday's showdown kicks off an 11-game season series between the Fuel and Mallards, the first of six at TaxSlayer Center in 2017-18. Last season Quad City took seven wins from the 10-game season slate with Indy, though the Fuel picked up points in three their four trips to Moline (1-1-0-2). Each team has won 10 games in the all-time series between the two clubs, with Indy bringing a 10-7-1-2 mark against the Mallards into Friday's game.
Scouting Report: Forward Sam Warning (5g, 1a) has found the back of the net in five of Quad City's six games, leading the Mallards with six points ... Rookie goaltender Ivan Kulbakov leads the ECHL with 167 saves, stopping a Quad City franchise record 57 in Friday's shootout win over the Steelheads. Kulbakov has seen at least 35 shots in each of his last three games, as the Mallards have surrendered an average of 42.33 shots per game - the second highest mark in the league.