Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 19
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillFeb 19, 2018
THE PLAYOFF-MOTIVATED FUEL LAUNCH PIVOTAL 5-GAME HOMESTAND AFTER STELLAR 7(4-3) ROAD TRIP
FAVORABLE SCHEDULE FOR FUEL; 15 OF 22-GAMES AT HOME; 19 OF THOSE LAST 22 VS. CENTRAL DIVISION
EDUCATION DAY GAME TUES. 10:30 AM VS. CINCINNATI; QUAD CITY HERE THURS.; FRI.; AND SAT. NIGHTS
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 4(2-2-0) 12-15
WED. FEB. 14 FUEL 2 AT FORT WAYNE 4.
FRI. FEB. 16 FUEL 4 AT KANSAS CITY 2.
SAT. FEB. 17 FUEL 4 AT KANSAS CITY 3 (OTSO).
SUN. FEB. 18 FUEL 2 AT TULSA 6.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (4)
TUES. FEB. 20 CINCINNATI AT THE FUEL 10:30 AM (EDUCATION DAY GAME)
THURS. FEB. 22 QUAD CITY AT THE FUEL 7:05 PM
FRI. FEB. 23 QUAD CITY AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
SAT. FEB. 24 QUAD CITY AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
NEXT HOME GAMES: TUE. 2/20 VS. CINCINNATI 10:30AM; THUR. 2/22; FRI. 2/23; SAT. 2/24 VS. QUAD CITY
************ ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM ***********
THE FUEL IN REVIEW: At long last, the Indy Fuel have returned home following their most extended, ambitious foreign ice road sojourn of the season. Under the auspices of Head Coach Bernie John and aide-de-camp Ryan McGinnis, the playoff-aspiring men of Fuel hockey attained a sterling winning record of 7(4-3-0) for the seven games odyssey and journey. This past week, embarking on a strenuous stretch of 4-road games in 5-days punctuated by some rather exorbitant and inordinate travel, the Fuel-men evenly divided the quartet of affairs, posting a creditable 4(2-2-0) record. Included in the week’s work was a sweep of a two-games’ series in Kansas City against the Mavericks as the Indy squad halted a protracted 10-games’ losing spell against the Mavs. Opening the week Wednesday night, the Fuel incurred a 4-2 setback against their nagging nemesis from Fort Wayne. Darian Dziurzynski (GTG) and Josh Shalla (PPG) were the Indy goal-scoring architects while goaltender Matt Tomkins rebuffed 37 of the Komets 41-SOG. For the “Kinetic Komets Killer,” Shalla, it was, astoundingly, his 15th goal in his last 12-Fuel outings against the Fort Wayners. The scene switched to Kansas City for a 2-games’ series against the Mavericks. In their initial trek there for this season, the Fuel were firing on all cylinders in completing the sweep of the series. Friday night, it was a 3-goals’ unanswered third period rally which produced Indy’s first victory against the Mavs in 4-seasons, halting a 10-game losing skein, 4-2. Darian Dziurzynski emanated and culminated the third period rally with a pair of goals, (GTG) and (ENG). Ryan Rupert delivered the (GWG/PPG) for the victors while Reed Seckel essayed the game’s FG against his former team. The Fuel forces outshot the Mavs, 33-27 with the 27-SOGA representing the second fewest that the Fuel have permitted in one game for this season. Goaltender “ET” Marcoux brushed aside 25-shots. In game two Saturday night, KC rallied from a 3-1 third period shortfall to forge a 3-3 stalemate before Alex Wideman connected on the sole goal of the OTSO. Matt Tomkins was perfect personified in the OTSO at 3/3. Josh Shalla (FG); Johnny McInnis and Garrett Clark also scored in regulation time. Sunday in Tulsa, the road weariness took its effect on the men of Fuel hockey in a 6-2 Tulsa triumph. Robin Press (FG) and Alex Wideman both sniped strikes for the club.
STATUS BY STANDINGS: The Fuel’s beginning of the winning since the date of December 1st and a 34(19-15-0) record has catapulted them into a genuinely realistic opportunity to land their first-ever Kelly Cup Playoffs’ berth in the 4-year history of the organization. As they broach yet another hectic docket of 4-home games in 5-days this week, the 6th place Fuel 50(23-24-3)49-points, have crept within 3-points of 5th place Kansas City 53(25-26-2)52 with 3-games in hand on the Mavericks and 2-more games remaining between the two teams. Moreover, the Indy sextet has climbed within 8-points of that coveted, hallowed 4th and final playoff berth, presently the residence of Kalamazoo 52(26-21-5)57 with 2-games in hand on the Wings who are currently gripped in a 5-game winless slide; 5(0-4-1). It’s a 9-points differential between the Fuel and third place Cincinnati 50(28-20-2)58. The Cyclones are 8(6-2-0) in their last 8-starts. Addressing the balance of the division; 1-Fort Wayne 51(35-13-3)73 with a 10-games unblemished skein; 10(9-0-1) and 16(14-1-1) in its last 16-outings. 2- Toledo 52(34-14-4)72 and 11(9-2-0) in the last 11-decisions. 7- Quad City 51(19-28-4)42 with a vastly-improved log of 11(8-3-0) in the last 11-games.
THE FUEL FUTURE FATE: It appears to be a most favorable schedule for the Fuel aggregation nation as they are very much, potentially, in control of their own fate and playoff destiny in the remaining games on the regular season slate. First, the Fuel will play 15 of their last 22-games on home ice with 13 of those against their own Western Conference Central Division. Second, overall, 19 of the Fuel’s 22-games are against their fractious foes from the same division. Third, the composite breakdown the rest of the way for the men wearing black, red and white. 1- Fort Wayne 7(1-6-0) and 4(0-4-0) at home; 2-more meetings remain, both on home ice. 2- Toledo 5(0-5-0) and 4-more meetings remain; 3-home and 1-road. 3- Cincinnati 4(4-0-0); 6-more clashes still coming; 3-home; 3-road. 4- Kalamazoo 8(5-3-0) and 2-more games left; 1-home; 1-road. 5- Kansas City 3(2-1-0) and 2-more games still to go; 1-home; 1-road. 7- Quad City 8(4-2-2) and 3-more games slated with all 3 at home and coming up later this week.
HOMESTAND STAKES: This week, the Fuel will be launching an extended 5-games’ homestand as they continue this very daunting and demanding span of 8-games in 11-days. They are 4(2-2-0) through the initial quartet of such on-ice affairs. Tuesday morning, the Fuel will host their first-ever “EDUCATION DAY GAME” at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum where they will engage in a clenching-wrenching tango against arch-adversary Cincinnati in a 10:30am opening face-off. It’s the first of 4-home games in 5-days for the Fuel lineup with the latter 3-tests set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights against Quad City. Indy will cap the 5-games’ homestand next Tuesday night, February 27th against second place Toledo.
THE INDY INTEL INDEX: To amplify and otherwise magnify the Fuel’s improving on-ice saga thus far this season, we harken back to December 1st when the Fuel were languishing with a rather downtrodden mark of 16(4-9-3). Since then, the club has assembled a winning record of 34(19-15-0) including two consecutive victorious months of December 14(8-6-0) and January 11(7-4-0). Thus far in February 9(4-5-0). Overall, their 23-wins equal last season’s grand total while their 12-road triumphs eclipse last season’s final number of 10. At home, the Fuel squadron has captured 11-conquests which are merely 2-shy of last year’s final result of 13-home ice successes. For the Fuel, last 7(4-3-0); last 17(10-7-0); last 19(11-8-0); last 23(14-9-0); last 25(15-10-0). On the road, after a dreadful 12(1-8-3) mark off the launch pad, the Fuel are fostering a flourish as they are 11(7-4-0) through the last 11 and 17(11-6-0) over the last 17-alien ice episodes.
PREMIUM PRESS: Fuel defenseman Robin Press has continued to elevate his play both offensively and defensively for the Indy Fuel contingent. The Swedish import and former 7th round draft choice of the NHL parent Chicago Blackhawks, perhaps, enjoyed his best week yet donning the Fuel moniker. In his club’s 4-games, he engineered 3-points on 1-goal, 2-assists with 16-SOG and a brilliant +7 rating. His 1-goal was the FG in Sunday’s trip to Tulsa while his +7 rating was accrued in the latter 3-games in 3-days abroad the past weekend. The 6-3, 207lb rearguard has emerged as his team’s most productive point purveyor from the blue line with 31(6-14-20) and totals of (3-5-8) on the power play. Press is the Fuel nation nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
BUCKEYE BARRICADE: Ohio State Buckeyes product Matt Tomkins continues to make an indelible impression with his coolness and collectiveness in goal for the hometown team. The past week, the Sherwood Park, Alberta prodigy saw considerable action to the tune of 3-games which included 2-starts and 1-relief appearance. For the week, he fashioned a record of 2(1-1-0) with a GAA of 3.10 and .925 SPCT. His victory for the week came Saturday night in Kansas City where he achieved the game’s #3 Star wit a masterful 46-saves enormous performance and a flawless 3/3 showing in the OTSO as his club prevailed, 4-3. Tomkins is the Fuel nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
THE SHOOTOUT SPECIALIST: The Fuel lineup was bolstered the past week with the return of 2016-17 Team MVP Alex Wideman from an extended recall to AHL Rockford. Last season’s team scoring kingpin promptly proceeded to author a 3-games point streak in his first 3-games back at 3(1-2-3). In addition, the former USHL Indiana Ice standout performed his specialty act of scoring OTSO/GWG. Saturday night in Kansas City, Wideman stoked the lone strike in the OTSO to vault the Fuel into the victory circle, 4-3. It was Indy’s second OTSO triumph thus far this season with Wideman delivering the sole goal, the ultimate GWG, in each contest. Last season, the teammate known as “Wides,” engineered his club’s best numbers in the OTSO of 3-6 with 2-more of those also classified as GWG.
“DOUBLE ‘D’ DANGLES: Left wing Darian Dziurzynski is continuing on the road to key, touch-in-the-clutch goal-scoring prowess. The past week, the 6-year pro made connection on 3-more goals including a pair of third period strikes to germinate and terminate the Fuel’s 3-goals’ third period rally Friday night, netting the club a come-from-behind 4-2 triumph in Kansas City. Named the #2 Star in that game, Dziurzynski was 4(3-1-4) for the week with his 17-goals being Fuel-foremost as he recently completed a 4-games goal streak 4(5-2-7) and 5-games’ point streak 5(5-3-8).
PREMIERE CANNONEER: Goal-scoring has been Josh Shalla’s calling card since his halcyon days of major junior ‘A’ hockey in the OHL with the Saginaw Spirit. Such “net impact” has become an invaluable asset for the past 2-seasons for his Fuel club. The high-octane right wing recently completed a stellar 7-games’ point streak which duplicated the team’s individual best thus far this season. In that span, Shalla composed 7(4-5-9) while maintaining his mastery and majesty over archrival Fort Wayne. Renowned as “The Kinetic Komets’ Killer,” Shalla, in his last 12-games against the Ks, has cannonaded 15-goals along with 6-assists for 21-points.
SPECIAL TEAMS TRUMPETING: The Fuel power play has skyrocketed meteorically to the #2 spot in the ECHL, operating at 20.5, a scant one-tenth of one-point behind #1 Cincinnati. Indy is 38-185 with those 38-PPG already representing 9-more PPG than they registered all last season. Indy is 4-15; 26.7; 6 for the last 20; 30% proficiency; 14-52; 26.6%. The Fuel PP leaders; Ryan Rupert (6); Mike Neal (4); Josh Shalla (4); Matt Rupert (3); Johnny McInnis (3); Darian Dziurzynski (3); Alex Wideman (3); Robin Press (3). In the penalty-killing category, the Fuel rank 10th league-wide, operating at an efficiency rating of 83.7% with the opponents being 34-208. The Fuel’s 11-SHG nearly triple their total of last season (4). Ryan Rupert (3); Tommy Olczyk (3); Nathan Noel (2); Matt Rupert (1); Brandon Anselmini (1); Darain Dziurzynski (1). Ryan Rupert is tied for the league-leadership in SH/Points with 5.
MINING THE MILESTONES: Zach Miskovic (96) is closing in on 100-pro career assists. Miskovic, also, is the lone Fuel players to play in all 50-games thus far this season. Darian Dziurzynski (97) is 3-goals shy of the pro career 100. Ryan Rupert (246) is 4-games shy of pro career 250. Cam Reid (347) is 3-games from 350 as a professional and (195) 5-PIM from 200. Garrett Clarke is continuing his climb to 1,100 pro career PIM as he is at 1,090 and counting.
FUEL FACTS: With their OTSO win Saturday night in Kansas City, the Fuel are 3(2-1) in the OTSO this season with Alex Wideman scoring the ultimate GWG in both such extra time affairs with both of his goals being the lone goals struck in each session. The Fuel have now won 7-consecutive 1-goal games including 5-consecutively on the road. For the season, they are now 19(11-5-3) and 11(5-3-3) on the road. The Fuel Friday night comeback 4-2 victory in Kansas City not only halted a 10-game losing streak spanning 4-seasons against the Mavs but also marked the first time this season that Indy surmounted the shortfall entering the third period and came away with the win. Until that time, they were 17(0-17-0) in that category. It was also the first time this season that Kansas City had suffered the loss entering the third period leading; 13(13-0-0). The Fuel are 17(15-2-0) when they score 4 or more and 17(15-1-1) entering the third period with the lead. The Fuel’s 20-SOG in the opening period Sunday at Tulsa equaled their best for one period this season while their 47-SOG for the game also matched their season’s best in that department as well. Formerly a member of the Mavericks, Reed Seckel has notched a goal in 2 of the 3-meetings this season against his erstwhile team. The Fuel’s 11-home wins are just 2-away from duplicating last year’s output of 13.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week’s Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com consists of 4-home games in 5-days beginning Tuesday morning when the Fuel rekindle rancor with Cincinnati. The broadcast is set for 10:00 am as the Fuel host their first-ever Education Day Game. The remaining week’s broadcast schedule consists of 3-games on 3-consecutive nights against divisional rival Quad City. This Thursday night, the broadcast is on tap for 6:30 pm. Friday and Saturday nights encore duels with the Mallards are on the slate for 7:00 pm. Join “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli, radio ice-side for all the action.
“INDY FUEL LIVE”: The next edition of “INDY FUEL LIVE” is set for Monday night, February 26th, live from Aspen Creek Grill in Noblesville. It’s one full hour, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm with “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli and his special guests. Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis will be featured along with an array of Fuel players’ guests on the Fuel radio home of WFNI 107.5 FM and 1070 The Fan.
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