Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 23
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillMar 19, 2018
THE FUEL BEGIN LAST THREE WEEKS OF THE SEASON ONLY TWO POINTS FROM COVETED PLAYOFF BERTH
FAVORABLE SCHEDULE FOR THE FUEL WITH SIX OF FINAL NINE GAMES SET FOR THEIR OWN HOME ICE
INDY IN CINCINNATI TUES.; HOME SHOWDOWN FRI. NIGHT VS. FORT WAYNE; TRIP TO BRAMPTON SUNDAY
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 2(0-1-1) 4-10
FRI. MAR. 16 FUEL 1 AT CINCINNATI 6.
SAT. MAR. 17 TOLEDO 4 AT FUEL 3 (OT).
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (3)
TUES. MAR. 20 THE FUEL AT CINCINNNATI 7:35 PM
FRI. MAR. 23 FORT WAYNE AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
SUN. MAR. 25 THE FUEL AT BRAMPTON 2:00 PM
************** NEXT HOME GAME: FRIDAY, MARCH 23RD VS. FORT WAYNE KOMETS 7:35 PM *****************
*********** ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM ************
THE FUEL REVIEW: The past weekend, the playoff-motivated and inspired Indy Fuel earned one more precious point in their concerted effort to attain their first-ever coveted berth in the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs. Under the tutelage of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the men of Fuel hockey posted a weekend mark of 2(0-1-1) in a pair of outings against two Western Conference Central Division rivals hailing from the State of Ohio. Launching the docket with a junket Friday night to Cincinnati, the Fuel found the Cyclones a formidable foe in a 6-1 setback. Falling behind 5-0 after two periods to a Cincinnati squadron also bent on landing a post-season spot in the league’s playoffs, Indy did counter in period three with a Josh Shalla strike to avert being shutout for the initial time in this campaign. Previously, the Fuel had clinched the 10-games’ season series over the Cyclones as they sustained only their second defeat in 8-meetings with their nearby archenemies with both setbacks incurred in each of their last two sojourns to Cincy. Indy did outshoot Cincinnati, 41-38. Returning home to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Saturday night, the Fuel garnered one more point in their playoffs’ hunt through a 4-3 OT affair against league-leading Toledo. The Indy offensive attack was crammed into 2:48 of the opening stanza when they fused a 3-goals’ powder keg, skyrocketing meteorically into a 3-0 advantage. Josh Shalla (FG/PPG), followed in rapid-fire fashion, by a pair of thrusts sizzled by Ryan Rupert 2:22 apart accounted for the Fuel firepower for the night. However, the Toledoans had other designs in mind as they rallied with a single goal in the middle frame followed by a pair of unanswered connections in the fateful final frame to equalize matters. Prolonging the clash to extra time, the Walleye wasted no time in overtime to complete their comeback, finishing the affair at the :16 mark of the 3-on-3 contest. The “Fuel-men” have earned 3 of an available 4-points in two bouts staged the past week against the league-leaders through a 2(1-0-1) log.
POST-SEASON SCENARIO: As they enter the final three weeks of the current campaign, the Fuel find themselves residing in sixth place in the Western Conference Central Division and very much within striking distance for post-season action. With nine games remaining on their schedule, six at home and three more on the road, the Fuel have assembled a season record that is one-game above the .500 barrier at 63(30-29-4) totaling 64-points. Indy is a scant two points behind both Kalamazoo 62(30-26-6)66 and Kansas City 63(31-28-4)66 with the Wings and the Mavericks presently sharing the distinction of the fourth and final playoff berth. Kalamazoo has one game in hand on both the Fuel and the Mavs with only room for one of the three clubs at the ECHL’s post-season inn. Third place Cincinnati 62(35-25-2)72 is currently six points clear of the trio of teams aiming for an extension to their respective seasons.
THE BREAKDOWN LOWDOWN: For the Fuel, of their remaining nine games, eight will be battles within their own Central Division with six of those eight showdowns set for home ice at the friendly climes and environs of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Here is the breakdown: vs. Cincinnati 8(6-2-0); 2-more meetings remain; 1-home and 1-away; vs. Kansas City 3(2-1-0); 2-more games; 1-home; 1-away; vs. Kalamazoo 9(6-3-0); 1-more game left, at home on the final day of the regular season, Sunday, April 8th. As far as first place Toledo and second place Fort Wayne are concerned, there are three more sessions set; vs. Toledo (8(1-6-1) with one more meeting on home ice; vs. Fort Wayne 7(1-6-0); 2-more games with both being at home. Indy has a combined record against Cincinnati, Kalamazoo and Kansas City of 20(14-6-0); home: 8(6-2-0); road: 12(8-4-0). The Fuel combined mark when tangling with Toledo and Fort Wayne, 15(2-12-1); home: 9(0-8-1); road: 6(2-4-0).
DATES ON THE SLATE: This week, the Fuel playoff push continues with a trio of outings with the first and last ones abroad and the middle one here at home. Tuesday night, it’s Indy’s second consecutive road sojourn to Cincinnati where the Cyclones are riding the crest of an impressive 6-games home win skein. The Fuel are 3(1-2-0) at U.S. Bank Arena where they will make their final appearance for this regular season. Indy’s playoffs’ express arrives back home on Friday night when the club rekindles rancor with its principal archrivals, the Fort Wayne Komets. Then on Sunday, the Fuel squad makes its lone appearance of the season in Canada in its only meeting of the year against the Brampton Beast.
RECENT RECORD: Embarking on the final three weeks of the season, the Fuel are 5(3-1-1) in their last 5-starts and 8(3-4-1) in their first 8-dates of a 13-games’ schedule for the month of March. Continuing, they are 9(3-5-1) in the last 9-decisions; last 13(7-5-1); last 16(9-6-1); last 20(11-8-1); last 30 (17-12-1); last 38(22-15-1). Since broaching the campaign with a rather downtrodden mark of 16(4-9-3), the Fuel are 47(26-20-1). Three consecutive winning months compiled by the Fuel; December 14(8-6-0); January 11(7-4-0); February 14(8-6-0). Since beginning the season with a road mark of 12(1-8-3), Indy is 21(13-8-0) in its last 21-endeavors into hostile territory. Their 14-road wins; 33(14-16-3), equal the all-time club record. Their 16-home wins, 30(16-13-1), are 3-more wins than last season (13). Indy’s 30-total wins are 7-more than ’16-17, (23). At one juncture of the season, having posted a record of 15(3-10-2) against their own Central Division, the Fuel are 31(20-10-1) in the last 31-decisions.
SLICK CENTERING: The Fuel’s leading scoring ace, center Ryan Rupert enjoyed another sound and solid weekend in his club’s playoff push. The former Toronto Maple Leafs’ draft choice attained second star status Saturday night on home ice in his club’s 4-3 OT outcome against league-leading Toledo. The hard-working pivot propelled a pair of first period goals 2:22 apart to culminate an Indy 3-goals’ opening period barrage in 2:48. His 7-SOG in the same game were foremost for both clubs. It was R. Rupert’s second two-goal game of the season with those two goals being the second fastest scored by a Fuel player thus far this season. With 24-points in his last 25-games; 25(10-14-24), Ryan Rupert is the Fuel’s nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
JOSH JUGGERNAUT: Right wing Josh Shalla continues as an ECHL premier revered cannoneer. The six-year pro fashioned a pair of strikes, stoking a singleton in each contest for the weekend. On Friday night in Cincinnati, he accounted for Fuel firepower with a third period connection which was followed by the game’s FG the next night, Saturday night on home ice, on a PPG to ignite Indy’s 3-goals opening period siege. For the season, Shalla is (17-19-36) and 22(8-15-23) in the last 22-games.
THE OTHER BROTHER: Ryan Rupert’s twin, lookalike brother, Matt Rupert is not to be overshadowed nor overlooked in the Fuel’s second half of the season resurgence. The Fuel second-year left wing was on the beam as well on Saturday night against first place Toledo. Acting the role of playmaker extraordinaire expertly, brother Matt engineered the primary assist as the major arranger on both of Ryan’s first period goals in 2:22. In his last 9-games, Matt Rupert is 9(4-4-8) with his 4-GWG tying him for the team’s leadership with captain Mike Neal.
ROSTER RUNDOWN: The past week saw more player movement for the Fuel and their overall roster. New to the Fuel in debut were Michigan State U. product, goaltender Ed Minney along with defenseman Andrew DeBrincat with the latter being the older brother of parent club Chicago Blackhawks prize rookie left wing Alex DeBrincat. Meanwhile goaltender Etienne Marcoux remains on recall to the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins while left wing Alex Wideman has been summoned for the second time this season to AHL Rockford.
POINTS PROLIFIC: The best scoring sharpshooters at this hour of the campaign for the Fuel: Robin Press last 16(4-16-20); last 23(7-20-27); Josh Shalla last 22(8-15-23); Darian Dziurzynski last 18(10-9-19); Alex Wideman last 15(6-12-18); Ryan Rupert last 25(10-14-24); Matt Rupert last 10(4-4-8); Johnny McInnis last 12(5-6-11); Jaynen Rissling last 12(3-8-11).
POWER PLAY POLISH: The Fuel continue to boast the ECHL’s premiere power play. Ranked #1 in the league, Indy is operating at a proficient 21.8% conversion rating; 52-239 with those 52-PPG representing 24-more PPG than they amassed last season (28). In recent action, the Fuel extra man band is 1 for the last 5; 2 for the last 16; 12.5% and 5 for the last 36; 13.9%. The PPG leaders: Alex Wideman (7); Ryan Rupert (6); Robin Press (6); Darian Dziurzynski (5); Mike Neal (5); Josh Shalla (5); Johnny McInnis (5); Matt Rupert (3); Jaynen Rissling (3). In the penalty-killing department, the Fuel are rated 13th in the loop, operating at 83.1% efficiency rating with the opponents going 43-254. The opposition is 1 for the last 7; 85.7%; 3 for the last 10; 70%; 4 for the 24; 83.3%. The Fuel’s 12-SHG tie for second most in the league. The team leaders: Ryan Rupert (3); Tommy Olczyk (3); Nathan Noel (2); Matt Rupert (1); Brandon Anselmini (1); Darian Dziurzynski (1); Matt Iacopelli (1).
MILESTONES TURNED: Left wing Alex Wideman (197) is 3-games away from pro career 200. Left wing Tommy Olczyk (92) is 8-games away from pro career 100. Left wing Matt Rupert (189) is 11-games from 200. Right wing Johnny McInnis (243) is 7-games away from 250. Defenseman Garrett Clarke (1,106) is now over 1,100-PIM in his pro career. Matt Rupert (36) is one-point shy of matching his career-high of 37-points which he collected last season.
FUEL FACTS: The Fuel’s longest win streak of the season has been 4-in a row. Four times, they have won 3-in succession. Indy’s longest home win streak has been 4-consecutively which they have accomplished twice this season. Their longest road win skein has been 3-in a row which has happened on two occasions. Through their first 63-games of the season, the Fuel have yet to be involved in a shutout game, either for them or against them. Saturday night’s OT result against Toledo was the Fuel’s first OT result on home ice for this season and only the second time all season long that a Fuel home game was prolonged to extra time. It was the first- time extra time occurred at home since way back on home opening night back on October 21st when Indy nipped Tulsa in an OTSO, 3-2. In their last 2-games against Toledo, the Fuel have outscored the Walleye in the first period, 5-0. Ryan Rupert’s 2-goals in 2:22 in the opening period Saturday night against Toledo were the Fuel’s second fastest 2-goals scored by an individual player this season. Josh Shalla fired a pair of goals 1:59 apart back on 1/19/18 on home ice in a Fuel 6-3 triumph over Allen. The Fuel are 23(21-2-0) when they score 4 or more goals and 24(20-1-2) when entering the third period with the lead. The Fuel are 5(2-3) in OT this season and 3(2-1) in the OTSO. The Fuel’s 3-goals first period blitz in 2:48 in the first period Saturday night against Toledo were their second fastest 3-goals this season.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week’s Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com features a trio of games with the first and third ones away from home bay and the middle one on home ice here in Indianapolis. On Tuesday night, the Fuel will travel to Cincinnati for on-ice combat against the Cyclones with the broadcast set for 7:00 pm. Friday night, the origination is from home ice and the game broadcast time also at 7:00 pm when the Fuel lock antlers with archrival Fort Wayne. Sunday, it’s on to Brampton, Ontario Canada where the Fuel will test the Beast with air-time set for 1:30 pm. Join “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli radio ice-side for all the action.
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