Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 22
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillMar 12, 2018
THE FUEL COMPLETE SWEEP OF THE WEEK TO CLIMB INTO THREE-WAY FIGHT FOR FIRST PLAYOFF BERTH
SIX OF REMAINING 11-GAMES IN LAST FOUR WEEKS AGAINST CINCINNATI, KANSAS CITY AND KALAMAZOO
INDY IN CINCINNATI THIS FRIDAY NIGHT; FUEL HOME SATURDAY NIGHT AGAINST FIRST PLACE TOLEDO
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 3(3-0-0) 16-9
FRI. MAR. 9 CINCINNATI 2 AT FUEL 5.
SAT. MAR. 10 FUEL 4 AT KALAMAZOO 3 (OT).
SUN. MAR. 11 FUEL 7 AT TOLEDO 4.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (2)
FRI. MAR. 16 THE FUEL AT CINCINNATI 7:35 PM
SAT. MAR. 17 TOLEDO AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM (ST. PATRICK’S NIGHT)
*** NEXT HOME GAME: SATURDAY, MARCH 17TH VS. TOLEDO WALLEYE 7:35 PM ST. PATRICK’S NIGHT ***
************ ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM ***********
“INDY FUEL LIVE” WED. NITE MAR. 14 7-8PM ASPEN CREEK GRILL NOBLESVILLE ON 107.5 FM & 1070 THE FAN
THE FUEL IN REVIEW: On the impetus of a clutch and crucial three-games in three nights sweep this past weekend, the unrelenting playoff push orchestrated by the high-flying Indy Fuel has sent them soaring within one-point of that coveted promised playoff land. Under the auspices of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the men of Fuel hockey will launch the final four weeks and 11-games of their 2017-18 ECHL regular season schedule waging a titanic three-teams tussle for one playoff spot, the fourth and final one in the Western Conference Central Division. Scotching and scuttling the stigma and ignominy of their longest losing streak of the season at 4-in a row, the Fuel rebounded resiliently and resoundingly with three straight triumphs with all three wins produced against fellow fractious foes from their own divisional alignment. In their lone home appearance for the weekend, the Fuel surmounted an early second period 2-0 shortfall to unleash a 5-goals resurgence in a 5-2 triumph over arch-enemy Cincinnati. Detonating a 4-goals second period powder keg, with the comeback counterattack crescendo climaxed by an Alex Wideman PPG, the Indy club was spearheaded by a pair of strikes including the GWG by premiere cannoneer Matt Iacopelli and 1-goal and 2-assists from Matt Rupert. Johnny McInnis triggered the torrent and goaltender Matt Tomkins rebuffed 30-shots. Saturday night in Kalamazoo, the Fuel’s mastery over the Wings in their own home lair continued in another brilliant comeback conquest with this win achieved in the thrilling theater of OT, 4-3. Facing a daunting deficit of 3-0 late in the middle period, the “Fuel-men” rallied remarkably, sparked by another Wideman PPG before Garrett Clarke and Josh Shalla (GTG) delivered 4:50 apart in the third stanza. Matt Iacopelli won it for the men from Indy with an electrifying OT/GWG to complete the improbable come-from-behind mission. Tomkins was, again, stellar in the crease, rebuking 46-shots. Then on Sunday at league-leading Toledo, the Fuel forces were in high-gear in a stunning 7-4 victory verdict. Again, it was another 4-goals’ second period uprising that hooked the Walleye with Jaynen Rissling the supreme catalyst with a pair of second stanza strikes to emanate and culminate the victors’ scoring scourge. Mike Neal (1-3-4) GWG and +5, Darian Dziurzynski (1-2-3) +4, Logan Nelson (FG), Zach Miskovic and Johnny McInnnis (EN) also connected with Reid Seckel engineering a trio of assists. In his Fuel debut, goaltender Colton Phinney posted the victory, making 42-saves.
PLAYOFF PICTURE IN FOCUS: With four weeks and 11-games remaining on their regular season slate, the men of the Fuel are waging a three-teams battle for the fourth and final playoff berth. Having advanced and enhanced their overall season record to a pair of games over the .500 barrier at 61(30-28-3) totaling 63-points, the Fuel have climbed within one point of their first-ever playoff berth trailing both Kansas City 61(30-27-4)64 and Kalamazoo 60(29-25-6)64 with the Wings having one-game in hand on both the Fuel and the Mavericks. Indy is 7-points back of third place Cincinnati 59(34-23-2)70 with the Cyclones having 2-games in hand on Indy. Of their 10-remaining games against their own division, the Fuel face 6 of those against Cincinnati (3); 1-home and 2-road; Kansas City (2); 1-home and 1-road; Kalamazoo (1) 1-home on the final day of the season on April 8th. The Fuel have flourished at the expense of all three of these teams, carding a masterful mark of 19(14-5-0); home: 8(6-2-0); road: 11(8-3-0). The breakdown: against Cincinnati 7(6-1-0); Kalamazoo 9(6-3-0); Kansas City 3(2-1-0).
TWO MORE TO SCORE: For the Fuel, two more games on the docket for the upcoming week with the State of Ohio being represented in the opponents’ category. Indy concludes three consecutive games away from home bay on Friday night when they sojourn to Cincinnati for another bout with the Cyclones. The Fuel are 2(1-1-0) in two previous outings in the “Queen City” thus far this season. Then on Saturday night, in their lone home performance for the week, the Fuel will, once again, tackle Toledo on “St. Patrick’s Night” at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
THE RECORD OF RESURGENCE: The story of this Fuel fourth ECHL campaign has been their remarkable resurgence and reincarnation since season’s inception. Launching the current campaign inauspiciously through a 16(4-9-3) mark, the Fuel, since December 1st, have been on the rise, posting a solid mark of 45(26-19-0). They have assembled three consecutive winning months; December 14(8-6-0); January 11(7-4-0); February 14(8-6-0). Thus far in March 6(3-3-0). In recent weeks, the Fuel have been experiencing highs as well as lows. This past week, a 3-games win streak. Last week, their longest losing streak of the season of 4-in a row. The week before that, a season’s best 4-game win skein. Continuing onward, last 14(9-5-0); last 18(11-7-0); last 28(17-11-0); last 34(21-13-0); last 36(22-14-0). Their 30-wins are 7-more than last year (23). At home, their 16-wins are 3-more than last season (13). Indy’s 14-road victories are 4-more than a season ago. More on foreign ice warfare; since commencing the campaign with a downtrodden mark of 12(1-8-3), the Fuel have flourished on foreign ice as their ensuing 20(13-7-0) mark would reflect and suggest.
“Z” ZINGING: Left wing Darian Dziurzynski enjoyed a banner three-games in three nights weekend for his favorite Fuel team in spurring Indy’s 3-wins in succession. In those 3-games, the man known affectionately by his teammates as “Z,” collected 5-points on 1-goal, 4-assists. In Saturday night’s brilliant comeback conquest in the contest in Kalamazoo, he registered a pair of third period assists which helped eradicate a Fuel 3-1 deficit, forging a 3-3 tie and setting the stage for the ultimate success in OT. Sunday in Toledo, “DD” essayed 3-points (1-2-3) while attaining a sterling +4 rating which equaled Indy’s second-best premium, positive plus performance of the season. For the week, Dziurzynski 3(1-4-5) with 13-SOG and sparkling +7 rating. Dziurzynski is the Fuel nomination for Sher/Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
“TOMMER” STELLAR: First-year goaltender Matt Tomkins has emerged as the Fuel’s veritable workhorse since the recall of Etienne Marcoux to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In his two starts the Ohio State alum backstopped his club to back-to-back, stirring comeback victories on both Friday and Saturday nights. Hailed as the #3 Star on Friday night, the Blackhawks 7th round pick in 2012, brushed aside 30-shots to halt a 4-games’ losing curse. Saturday night in Kalamazoo, he stayed the course, making 46-saves as his team overcame a 3-0 deficit to extract a 4-3 OT triumph from the Wings. For the week, he was 2(2-0-0) with a 2.44 GAA and exceptional .939 SPCT. Tomkins is the Fuel nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
PARTING SHOT: Before making his exit stage left to return to AHL Rockford, high-voltage left wing Matt Iacopelli left a parting shot that was apparently heard reverberating all the way back to the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate’s home city. In his last act for the Fuel, the second-year pro from Western Michigan U., by way of the USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks, fired an electrifying OT/GWG Saturday night in Kalamazoo to cap the comeback and capture the conquest in the contest, 4-3. For the 2014 Chicago third round draft pick it was his third goal in 24-hours and his second GWG in as many nights as well. The night before on home ice, Iacopelli uncorked a couple of cannons to fuse the Fuel comeback victory over Cincinnati. In his 9-games’ stint with the home team, he sniped 9-goals including 3-GWG, one 2-goals’ game and one 3-goal “hat trick.”
THE CAPTAIN CONNECTS: The Fuel All-Star and team captain Mike Neal found his finest Fuel form this past weekend. In so doing, the veteran team leader became a true sparkplug in his club’s three-games in three nights sweep. Neal was especially dynamic and gigantic in Indy’s stunning 7-4 toppling of the always-formidable Toledoans. On Sunday in the Ohio hamlet, the 9-year pro enjoyed one of the best games of his outstanding pro career. He not only delivered the GWG but also authored 3-assists for a 4-points masterpiece which equaled the club’s single-best one-game performance of the season. Moreover, Neal achieved an extraordinary +5 enormous performance which also represented the best in the plus department for the year. For the week, Neal was 3(1-4-5) +6 with 7-SOG. His 4-GWG tie with Matt Rupert for the team leadership.
“RIZZ” ROCKS: Four-year pro Jaynen Rissling was another member of the men of the Fuel to maestro a masterful weekend of contribution to the Indy hockey institution. The recently-acquired defenseman was at the focal point of his club’s second 4-goals’ second period outburst of the past weekend on Sunday as he “bookended” the ammo arsenal assault with a pair of goals while also authoring a stellar +3 rating. For the week, he was 3(2-1-3) with a +4 rating. Since his arrival on the Fuel hockey scene, Rissling is 10(3-6-9) with a rating of +4.
POINT-MAKING MEISTERS: In their season’s renaissance, the Fuel have evolved into a high-tech, high-octane scoring machine. The cases in point: Robin Press last 14(4-15-19); last 21(7-19-26). Josh Shalla last 20(6-15-21); Darian Dziurzynski last 16(10-8-18); Alex Wideman last 14(6-11-17); Johnny McInnis last 11(5-5-10); Ryan Rupert last 23(8-14-22); Matt Rupert last 7(4-2-6); Matt Iacopelli 9(9-1-10).
EXTRA MAN MAGIC: The Fuel power play continues as the best of the rest in the ECHL. Ranked #1, the extra man band is percolating at a prolific-terrific 22.1%; 51-231. Their 51-PPG rank as second most in the league and are 23-more than they registered all last season (28). Scoring balance has been the embodiment of the power play; Alex Wideman (7); Robin Press (6); Ryan Rupert (6); Darian Dziurzynski (5); Johnny McInnis (5); Mike Neal (4); Josh Shalla (4); Matt Rupert (3); Jaynen Rissling (3). In the penalty-killing category, the Fuel are rated 9th in the loop, operating at 83.6% efficiency. Indy has disarmed 13 of the last 14-advantages afforded the adversary for a mark of 92.8%. Indy’s 12-SHG tie for second most in the league. The leaders: Ryan Rupert (3); Tommy Olczyk (3); Nathan Noel (2); Matt Rupert (1); Brandon Anselmini (1); Darian Dziurzynski (1); Matt Iacopelli (1).
MILESTONES STUDY: Defenseman Zach Miskovic achieved his 100th career assist in Friday night’s come-from-behind 5-2 home win over Cincinnati. Center Logan Nelson played in his 200th pro career game Saturday in the OT triumph Saturday night in Kalamazoo. Alex Wideman (196) is 4-games from pro career 200. Tommy Olczyk (91) is 9-games from 100. Center Cam Reid (347) is 3-gams shy of 350. Zach Miskovic (396) is 4-PIM from 400. Newcomer Mike McNicholas recorded his first-ever pro point by earning the primary assist on Jaynen Rissling’s first of two second period goals in the Sunday win at Toledo. Defenseman Garrett Clarke (1,092) is 8-PIM from1,100 for his pro career.
FUEL FACTS: The Fuel are presently on their fourth 3-game win streak of the season. Twice the past weekend, the Fuel erupted with 4-goals’ second period barrages in victories over both Cincinnati and Toledo. The 4-goals in a single period are the second most which Indy has scored in one 20-minutes’ frame of the game and has been accomplished 4-times by the Fuel, each time in the second period. Their best period has been 6-goals, which was also achieved in the second period this season. Sunday’s win in Toledo snapped a Fuel 8-games’ losing streak against the Walleye and was only Indy’s third win in 24-lifetime meetings against the Toledoans; 24(3-21-0). The Fuel are 8(6-2-0) in their last 8-dates at Kalamazoo and 7(5-2-0) for this season. The Fuel have already clinched the season series against 3 of their divisional opponents; Cincinnati 7(6-1-0); Quad City 11(7-2-2); Kalamazoo 9(6-3-0). With their home Friday night over Cincinnati, the Fuel now have a 6-games home win skein against the Cyclones, dating back to last season. Indy’s 7-goals output Sunday in Toledo marked the third time the Fuel have scored 7-times in one game and the first time on the road. Eight goals have been the best for Indy thus far this season. Niagara U. rookie defenseman Jimmy Roll is off to a stellar start, carding a +3 rating in his first 3-pro games.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week’s Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070the fan.com features a pair of contests against rivals from the State of Ohio. On Friday night it’s a road show at Cincinnati against the Cyclones with the pre-game show on the docket for 7:00 pm from U.S. Bank Arena. Saturday night from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, the Fuel will host Toledo with game broadcast time set also 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 this 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 radio home for the Fuel of 107.5 FM and WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.
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