Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 21
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillMar 5, 2018
FINAL FIVE WEEKS AND 14-GAMES TO GO FOR THE FUEL TO ATTAIN THEIR FIRST-EVER PLAYOFFS BERTH
INDY STAYS IN THE HUNT FOR POST SEASON WITH 13 OF LAST 14-GAMES AGAINST ITS CENTRAL DIVISION
SHOWDOWN WEEKEND NEXT; CINCINNATI HERE FRI. NIGHT; IN KALAMAZOO SAT. IN TOLEDO ON SUNDAY
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 4(0-4-0) 9-17
TUES. FEB. 27 TOLEDO 4 AT FUEL 3.
FRI. MAR. 2 FUEL 3 AT CINCINNATI 4.
SAT. MAR. 3 UTAH 5 AT FUEL 2.
SUN. MAR. 4 UTAH 4 AT FUEL 1.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (3)
FRI. MAR. 9 CINCINNATI AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM (NICKELODEON NIGHT)
SAT. MAR. 10 THE FUEL AT KALAMAZOO 7:00 PM
SUN. MAR. 11 THE FUEL AT TOLEDO 5:15 PM
NEXT HOME GAME: FRIDAY, MARCH 9TH VS. CINCINNATI CYCLONES 7:35 PM ON “NICKELODEON NIGHT”
************ ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM **********
THE FUEL REVIEW: The Indy Fuel are set to embark on the ECHL’s final five weeks of the 2017-18 season, standing at the precipice of a possible and plausible first-ever Kelly Cup post season playoffs’ berth. Under the direction of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the Indy club has 14-games remaining on its regular season schedule with 13 of those games to be duels within their own Western Conference Central Division. Eight of those final 14-outings will be at the friendly climes and environs of their hockey home of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum with six more on the docket as foreign ice warfare. The past week saw the Fuel incur four consecutive defeats with three of those setbacks sustained on home ice and the lone other one absorbed abroad. Broaching the week’s activities with a 4-3 home ice shortfall Tuesday night in a bout with first place Toledo, the Fuel did receive firepower from Matt Rupert, who delivered a pair of strikes while line-mate Johnny McInnis (1-2-3) scored on the power play and Robin Press assisted on all 3-goals. Friday night in Cincinnati, again, it was a 4-3 winless outcome despite establishing an unfounded 2-0 lead. Josh Shalla (1-2-3), Darian Dzuirzynski (FG) and Mike Neal (PPG) uncorked strikes for the Fuel and Robin Press authored 2-more assists. Returning home for a pair of encounters against Mountain Division rival Utah, the Fuel were saddled with setbacks of 5-2 on Saturday night and 4-1 on Sunday. Matt Rupert and Matt Iacopelli were the hometown team’s marksmen in game one on Saturday while Alex Wideman stoked a PPG for his club’s lone connection in the Sunday matinee encore presentation.
POST SEASON SITUATION: As the men of the Fuel embark on the new week, they remain very much alive in the league’s post season playoffs’ chase. Presently occupying sixth place in the ECHL’s Western Conference Central Division, Indy has recorded a season’s mark of 58(27-28-3) totaling 57-points. The Fuel club is only 3-points behind fifth place Kansas City 58(29-27-2)60 with the Mavericks owning a 5(4-1-0) record in their last 5-decisions. Indy is just 4-points back of fourth place Kalamazoo 57(28-24-5)61, which currently holds down the division’s final playoff position. The Wings are 10(2-7-1) in their last 10-starts. It’s an 11-points differential between third place Cincinnati 57(33-21-2)68 and Indy with the Cyclones having won 5-in a row and 14(11-3-0) in their last 14-outings. Eight of the Fuel’s final 14-games will be bouts against this trio of teams in the battle for the post season. The remaining games: against Cincinnati, 4-more meetings; 2-home; 2-road. Kalamazoo, 2-more games; 1-home, 1-road. Kansas City, 2-more clashes; 1-home, 1-road. The Fuel have assembled a collective winning record of 17(12-5-0) against Cincinnati 6(5-1-0); Kalamazoo 8(5-3-0); Kansas City 3(2-1-0).
CRUCIAL CLASHES THIS WEEK: The playoffs’ push progresses this week with the Fuel facing three games in three days for this upcoming weekend. Indy’s lone home appearance is on the docket for this Friday night when arch-adversary Cincinnati returns for a 7:35 pm opening face-off on “NICKELODEON NIGHT” at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Then, it’s on to Kalamazoo for a clash against the Wings. The Fuel have fostered a flourish at the Wings Event Center, registering a 6(4-2-0) mark there for this season and 7(5-2-0) in their last 7-adventures there dating back to last season. Sunday, it’s a trip to Toledo for a collision against the first place Walleye.
INDY INTEL INDEX: At this hour of the season, the Fuel find themselves riding on the proverbial elevator. After achieving their longest win streak of the season at 4-in a row overall while at the same time equaling their longest home win skein of the same season, also at 4-consecutively, the Fuel have followed with their longest losing spell of the year at 4-in succession overall and 3-straight defeats at home. Continuing, last 11(6-5-0); last 15(8-7-0); last 25(14-11-0); last 31(18-13-0); last 33(19-14-0). The Fuel have launched March with a 3(0-3-0) mark. They have achieved three consecutive winning months; December 14(8-6-0); January 11(7-4-0); February 14(8-6-0). For the season, their 27-wins are 4-more than last year (23). On home ice, the Fuel are 28(15-13-0) with those 15-victories being 2-more than they registered all last season (13). On the road, the Fuel have dropped each of their last 2-starts, lowering their season’s standing to 30(12-15-3). Their 12-triumphs are 2-more than last season (10).
PRESS PRODUCTION: The emergence of defenseman Robin Press as a league premiere, pre-eminent talent has been majestic. After being honored last week as the first-ever Fuel player to be hailed and heralded as ECHL Player of the Month and the first defenseman to receive such lofty laurels since 2003, the Uppsala, Sweden product promptly proceeded to engineer 6-assists in 3-games; 3(0-6-6), with those 6-playmaking helpers authored on his team’s first 8-goals of the week. The production of Press included a +1 rating and the continuation of his club-record 11-games’ scoring streak; 11(4-12-16). In his last 18-games; 18(7-16-23). Press is the Fuel’s nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
MATT-MAKING: Left wing Matt Rupert continued his always-steady, stellar play the past week for the home team. The past Tuesday, the third-year pro accounted for 2 of his team’s 3-goals in a 4-3 setback as inflicted by Toledo. It was Rupert’s second 2-goals’ performance of the current campaign. The 10-minutes older twin brother of line-mate Ryan Rupert also sizzled a single strike Saturday in his club’s 5-2 loss at home against Utah. For the week, Matt Rupert was 4(3-0-3).
ALEX APEX: The Fuel left wing Alex Wideman has been reaping a bountiful harvest since his return from recall from Rockford. The speedy third-year pro collected 3-points in his team’s 4-games the past week on 4(1-2-3) with 11-SOG. His lone goal for the week was a PPG Sunday against Utah and his team’s lone goal in the game. Since his return to the Fuel, Wideman, in his last 11-games; 11(4-11-15). His 5-PPG tie him for second most on the club.
SCORING SCOURGE: The Fuel firepower has evolved into the Fuel forte in the season’s second half. The premiere point-producers at this stage of the season; Robin Press last (4-12-16); last 18(7-16-23). Alex Wideman last 11(4-11-15); Josh Shalla last 17(5-14-19); Darian Dzuirzynski last 13(9-4-13); Ryan Rupert last 20(8-10-18); Matt Iacopelli 7(6-1-7); Johnny McInnis last 8(3-4-7).
“MAN-UP” / “MAN-DOWN”: The Indy power plant power play continues as the league’s most proficient man advantage operation. Ranked at the top of the loop, at 49-217 and 22.6% conversion ratio, the Fuel’s 49-PPG are second most in the league as well as 21-more PPG that they percolated last season. In recent action, the power play is 1 for the last 13; 7.7%. It gets better after that; 11 for the last 32; 34.4%; 17-56; 30-45; 25-83; 30.1%. Fuel scoring balance with the man advantage: Ryann Rupert (6); Robin Press (6); Alex Wideman (5); Johnny McInnis (5); Mike Neal (5); Darian Dzuirzynski (5); Josh Shalla (4); Matt Rupert (3); Jaynen Rissling (3). Meanwhile, in the penalty-killing category, the Fuel rank 13th, operating at 83.2% efficiency with the opponents being 39-232. The opposition is 4 for the last 10 and 5 for the last 16 on the power play advantages. The Fuel’s 12-SHG tie them for second most in the circuit. The leaders: Ryan Rupert (3); Tommy Olzcyk (3); Nathan Noel (2); Matt Rupert (1); Brandon Anselmini (1); Darian Dzuirzynski (1); Matt Iacopelli (1).
MILESTONES STANDING: Defenseman Zach Miskovic (99) next assist will be the 100th in his 9-year pro career. Center Logan Nelson (198) is 2-games away from the pro career 200. Alex Wideman (193) is 7-games shy of 200. Tommy Olczyk (91) is 9-games from 100. Ryan Rupert played his 250th pro game last Friday night in Cincinnati. Darian Dzuirzynski played his 350th pro game on home ice Saturday night against Utah. Garrett Clarke (1092) is 8-PIM from 1,100. Jaynen Rissling (200) played his 200th pro career game the past Sunday at home against Utah. Zach Miskovic (392) is 8-PIM from 400.
FUEL FACTS: The Fuel’s best period this season has been the second period, outscoring the opposition, 78-71 overall and 45-32 at home. Until the Utah arrival the past weekend, the Fuel had been undefeated on home ice against the Mountain Division at 4(4-0-0). In divisional competition, the Fuel record combined against 3rd Cincinnati, 4th Kalamazoo, 5th Kansas City and 7th Quad City is 28(19-7-2). Against 1st place Toledo and 2nd place Fort Wayne 13(1-12-0) and 8(0-8-0) at home. The Fuel’s back-to-back 4-3 setbacks incurred the past week against Toledo and Cincinnati halted their impressive 9-games win streak in tight 1-goal decisions. It also halted a 5-game road win streak in that same department. When they score 4 or more, the Fuel are 20(18-2-0). Leading entering the third period; 20(18-1-1); trailing 22(1-21-0). When they outshoot the opposition, the Fuel record is 21(10-10-1); when they are outshot 37(17-18-2). A total of 20-times this season the Fuel have yielded 2-GA or less. A total of 22-times, the Fuel have been limited offensively to 2-GF or less.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week’s Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com consists of 3-games in 3-days this upcoming weekend. The broadcast is set for 7:00 pm on Friday night when the Fuel play host to archenemy Cincinnati at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. On the road this weekend, the game broadcasts are on tap for Saturday night from Kalamazoo against the Wings at 6:30 pm and at 4:45 pm Sunday from Toledo against the first place Walleye. 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 Wednesday night, March 14th, 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 on the Indy Fuel radio home of 107.5 FM and WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.
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