Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 24
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillMar 26, 2018
THE FUEL’S LATEST SURGE INCHES INDY TO WITHIN ONE POINT OF FIRST-EVER ECHL PLAYOFF BERTH
INDY EARNS FIVE OF SIX POINTS IN UNDEFEATED WEEK; THE FUEL IN LAST EIGHT GAMES ARE 8(5-1-2)
SIX GAMES TO MAKE THE PROMISED POST SEASON LAND; HOME TO KANSAS CITY & FT. WAYNE FRI. & SAT
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 3(2-0-1) 12-11
TUES. MAR. 20 FUEL 4 AT CINCINNATI 3 (OT)
FRI. MAR. 23 FORT WAYNE 2 AT FUEL 3.
SUN. MAR. 25 FUEL 5 AT BRAMPTON 6 (OT)
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (2)
FRI. MAR. 30 KANSAS CITY AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
SAT. MAR. 31 FORT WAYNE AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
NEXT HOME GAMES: FRI. MARCH 30 VS. KANSAS CITY 7:35 PM; SAT. MARCH 31 VS. FORT WAYNE 7:35 PM
*********** ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS’ WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM ************
THE FUEL REVIEW: With two more weeks and six more games remaining on their 2017-18 ECHL schedule, the Indy Fuel have climbed within one single point of the coveted fourth and final playoff position in the Western Conference Central Division standings. In quest with zest of their first-ever Kelly Cup Playoffs’ post season berth, the men of the Fuel completed an undefeated three-games’ work week, accruing five of a possible six points through a record of 3(2-0-1). Under the direction of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the Fuel opened the week’s action on Tuesday night in Cincinnati where they decisioned the home standing Cyclones in the drama, suspense and thrilling theater of overtime, 4-3. For a second OT triumph in the Queen City this current campaign, Ryan Rupert delivered the OT/GWG, firing a shot that was heard reverberating all the way back to Indianapolis at 4:36 of the 5:00 extra session. The R. Rupert PPG produced the Fuel’s seventh victory in nine duels against the Cincinnatians. Garrett Clarke (FG), Mike Neal and Josh Shalla also connected for the victors while Darian Dziurzynski assisted twice and “ET” Marcoux made 14-saves. Returning home on Friday night, the Fuel, long overdue for a major breakthrough, did indeed, come through as they edged the Fort Wayne Komets, 3-2. The Indy squad surged into a 3-0 advantage by the 5:15 mark of the middle stanza after Josh Shalla propelled a pair of first period strikes before former Komet Logan Nelson engineered his club’s second PPG of the night and the ultimate GWG. Marcoux, again, was sound and solid in goal, repelling 38-shots. Traveling to Brampton for their lone meeting for this season against the Beast, the Fuel extracted one more precious point in their race for the post-season in a 6-5 OT affair. Darian Dziurzynski authored two goals, both GTG, as Indy surmounted a daunting 4-2 third period shortfall with a three-goals’ rally that catapulted the club into a 5-4 lead. Johnny McInnis (FG), Mathew Thompson and Robin Press also fused the Fuel firepower with the Press strike stoked on an electrifying penalty shot. Mike Neal assisted twice for Indy.
FUEL NATION SITUATION: The Fuel have two weeks and six more games to achieve their ultimate goal of the ECHL post-season promised land. Through 66-games, the Fuel have compiled a season mark of 66(32-29-5) totaling 69-points. Indy will commence the next new week, the second to last week of the regular season, one point back of Kalamazoo 65(32-27-6)70 and Kansas City 66(33-29-4)70 for the final playoff spot. It has developed into a three-way battle for the last position with one team to qualify and the other two teams to be denied. Kalamazoo does have one game in hand on both the Fuel and the Mavericks with the Wings in the midst of playing seven of their last eight games on the road. The Wings are 4(3-1-0) in their last 4-starts; Kansas City is also 4(3-1-0) in its last 4-games and 13(8-3-2) over its last 13-outings. Cincinnati 66(36-27-3)75 is five points clear of KC and Kalamazoo and six points above the Fuel finest on ice.
THE FINAL SIX: For the Fuel, six of their most important games of the season still remain. As far as the breakdown is concerned, five of the six remaining games will be at the friendly climes and environs of home ice and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. All six games will be in the trenches against their own Central Division with four of those six bouts about the three clubs they are presently vying with for the playoffs with three of those being on home ice. The “Fuel-men” will contest twice more with Kansas City; one at home and their last and lone remaining road excursion of the season in the Missouri City. Furthermore, Indy will play both Cincinnati and Kalamazoo each one more time with each game in Indy. The other two games also will be on home ice against the top two teams in the division, Toledo and Fort Wayne. The Fuel’s collective record against Cincinnati 9(7-2-0); Kalamazoo 9(6-3-0); Kansas City 3(2-1-0); is 21(15-6-0; home: 8(6-2-0); road: 13(9-4-0). Indy’s combined composite vs. both Toledo 8(1-6-1) and Fort Wayne 8(2-6-0) is 16(3-12-1); home: 10(1-8-1); road: 6(2-4-0).
FUEL REMAINING SCHEDULE: Friday, March 30 Kansas City at the Fuel; Saturday, March 31 Fort Wayne at the Fuel; Tuesday. April 3 The Fuel at Kansas City; Friday, April 6 Cincinnati at The Fuel; Saturday, April 7 Toledo at The Fuel; Sunday, April 8 Kalamazoo at The Fuel.
HOME FOR THE WEEKEND: This weekend, two more extraordinarily important games are on the docket for the playoff-motivated men of the Fuel. It’s a playoff showdown duel Friday night when the Fuel collide with Kansas City at 7:35 pm in the fourth meeting of the season and the second and last one here in Indy. Then on Saturday night, it’s another renewal of the State of Indiana archrivalry as the Fuel lock antlers with the Komets of Fort Wayne, also in a 7:35 pm face-off.
RECORD OF RECLAMATION: Embarking on the last two weeks of the regular phase, the Fuel are riding the crest of a 4-games’ unsullied skein; 4(2-0-2), registering 6 of a possible 8-points in the process. Moreover, Indy has dropped only one game outright in its last 8-dates; 8(5-1-2); last 16(9-5-2); last 23(13-8-2); last 33(19-12-2); last 41(24-15-2). Since inaugurating the campaign with a less-than exemplary mark of 16(4-9-3), the Fuel have essayed an excellent comeback record of 50(28-20-2). Indy is seeking to attain its fourth consecutive winning month. Thus far through their first 11-games in March, the Fuel have posted a record of 11(5-4-2); December 14(8-6-0); January 11(7-4-0); February 14(8-6-0). Since beginning the season with a lackluster road record of 12(1-8-3), the Fuel have assembled a superb foreign ice log of 23(14-8-1). Their 15-road victories represent an all-time club record; 35(15-16-4). Their 17-home wins; (31(17-13-1); are four more home triumphs than last year (13). Further, the Fuel’s 32-total victories have matched the all-time team standard. When it comes to their own Central Division, the Fuel have been assertive in their remarkable improvement through their evolution in this season. After beginning at 15(3-10-2), Indy has composed a masterful mark of 33(22-10-1) against the Central Division.
SHALLA SHOOTS IT: Right wing Josh Shalla enjoyed another exceptional week of goal-scoring excellence for the hometown team. The 6-year pro registered 4-points in 3-games, including a “trifecta” of red light strikes with 17-SOG and +2 rating. He becomes the Fuel’s second 20-goal marksman of this campaign. The pinnacle of his week’s work came on Friday night on home ice where his club defeated archrival Fort Wayne, 3-2. Shalla was instrumental on all 3-goals as he triggered the game’s initial 2-thrusts in the opening stanza before authoring the primary assist on the PPG/GWG from former Komet, Logan Nelson. He was acclaimed the game’s #1 Star. Hailed as the “Kinetic Komets Killer,” Shalla, in his last 13-Fuel games, has uncorked an amazing 17-goals and 23-total points against the Fort Wayners, spanning these last two seasons. Shalla is the Fuel nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
ETIENNE GOAL GUARDIAN: First-year goaltender Etienne Marcoux returned from a three-weeks’ recall with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and promptly proceeded to continue his stellar rookie pro season. The former QMJHL and U. of New Brunswick standout made two straight starts and collected two straight victories. Last Tuesday night in Cincinnati, he backstopped his club to the tune of 14-saves in a dramatic 4-3 OT triumph over the Cyclones. Then on Friday night, on home ice against Fort Wayne, the Laval, PQ product earned the game’s #2 Star honor by rebuffing 38-Komets’ shots in a thrilling 3-2 team triumph. For the week, he was 2(2-0-0) with a thrifty 2.40 GAA and nifty .912 SPCT. Marcoux is the Fuel nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
THE “Z” TRAIN TRIUMPHS: Left wing Darian Dziurzynski has emerged as one of the key, primary, premiere cannoneers for the men of Fuel hockey. The veteran forward engineered a 4-points’ in a three-games week. In Tuesday night’s OT triumph in Cincinnati, “Z” acted the role of playmaker extraordinaire, collecting 2-assists. Then on Sunday, in another OT affair, this one in Brampton, “DD” fired two goals, both of the GTG variety. It was Dziurzynski’s fifth two-goal of the season. For the week; 3(2-2-4). His 24-goals are foremost for the Fuel.
MATT’S FIRST FOR FUEL: Indy Fuel newcomer Mathew Thompson enjoyed a solid debuting week in the pro ranks, fresh off the campus of Adrian College. The 6-1, 195lb center earned his first-ever point as a pro Tuesday night in his club’s OT triumph in Cincinnati as he recorded a key assist in the contest. Sunday, in Brampton, he ignited Indy’s three-goals’ third period rally by stashing his first-ever pro goal. In his first 3-games, Thompson is 3(1-1-2).
THE PRESS PENALTY SHOT: Defenseman Robin Press was presented the Fuel’s initial penalty shot of this season on Sunday afternoon in Brampton against the Beast. During an Indy power play in the third period, the Fuel’s first-ever ECHL Player of the Month in February, was sent sprawling on a breakaway flight. The Swedish import maestroed a masterful backhand shot which crowned his team’s three-goals’ comeback counterattack and produced an Indy 5-4 lead. For Press, it was his 10th goal of the season as well as his 39th point. As the Fuel’s premiere-point producing rearguard, Press’ penalty shot goal established a new single season points standard for Fuel defenseman.
POWER PLAY PROWESS: The Fuel power play continues as the top extra man team in the ECHL. With two weeks remaining in the season, the Indy power play has been percolating in a prolific and proficient fashion. The past week, it was 4-8, operating at a sparkling 50% conversion rating. They are 5 for the last 18; 27.8%. For the season, the Fuel power play is 56-252; 22.3%. Their 56-PPG double last year’s season output of 28-PPG. Power play goal leaders: Ryan Rupert (7); Alex Wideman (7); Robin Press (7); Mike Neal (5); Johnny McInnis (5); Darian Dziurzynski (5); Josh Shalla (5); Matt Rupert (3); Jaynen Rissling (3).
ON THE MILESTONES MENU: Tommy Olczyk (93) is 7-games shy of pro career 100. Matt Rupert (192) is 8-games away from pro career 200. Johnny McInnis (246) is 4-games away from 250. Alex Wideman (197) is 3-games from 200. Zack Miskovic (398) is 2-PIM from 400-PIM for his career. Can Reid (347) is 3-games shy of 350.
FUEL FACTS: Four of the last seven Fuel games have resulted in overtime outcomes with the club posting a 4(2-2) mark. In the 6-5 OT outcome Sunday in Brampton, the Fuel saw their 3-games road win streak in OT brought to an abrupt halt. The Fuel are 7(3-4) in overtime; home: 1(0-1) and road: 6(3-3). Through their first 66-games, the Fuel have yet to be involved in a shutout game, either for them or against them. When the Fuel scored 2-goals in :26 in the third period Sunday in Brampton, it marked the third time this season they have scored 2-goals in :26, tying their second fastest 2-goals in a single game. Indy’s best period this season has been the second period, outscoring the opposition, 90-84 overall and 50-34 at home. When they score 4 or more, the Fuel are 25(22-2-1) and when they surrender 2-GA or less, they are 22(19-2-1). The Fuel are 25(13-11-1) when outshooting the opponents and 41(19-18-4) when they are outshot. Entering the third period with the lead, the Fuel are 25(22-1-2); entering the third period trailing, 25(2-22-1). The Fuel are 10(4-4-2) on Sunday with all 4-victories coming on the road; 8(4-2-2). Josh Shalla has equaled the Fuel’s longest goal-scoring streak of the season, having capped a 4-games’ skein; 4(5-2-7). Robin Press preceded Shalla with 4(4-2-6). In Tuesday night’s OT triumph in Cincinnati, the Fuel grudgingly surrendered only 17-SOG, the fewest which they have allotted this year.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week’s Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com features a pair of home encounters coming up this weekend at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. On Friday night, it’s a playoff showdown duel as the Fuel host Kansas City. Then on Saturday night when the home team caps its March slate, the Fort Wayne Komets come calling with both games set for 7:35 pm and the broadcast to begin both nights at 7:00 pm. Join “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli radio ice side for all the action.
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