Indy Fuel Pit Stop – Week 9
Presented by Squealers Barbeque GrillDec 11, 2017
THE RESURGENT FUEL’S COMMAND PERFORMANCE PRODUCES IMPRESSIVE BACK-TO-BACK VICTORIES
INDY RUNS HOME WIN STREAK TO SEASON HIGH 3-IN ROW; KNOCK-OFF TWO TOP FIRST PLACE TEAMS
4-GAMES 5-NIGHTS THIS WEEK; QUAD CITY HERE THURS.; FORT WAYNE SHOWDOWN SATURDAY NIGHT
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 2(2-0-0) 10-3
FRI. DEC. 8 WHEELING 2 AT FUEL 3.
SAT. DEC. 9 WICHITA 1 AT FUEL 7.
THIS WEEK’S GAMES: (4)
TUES. DEC. 12 THE FUEL AT WHEELING 7:05 PM
THURS. DEC. 14 QUAD CITY AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
FRI. DEC. 15 THE FUEL AT FORT WAYNE 8:00 PM
SAT. DEC. 16 FORT WAYNE AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM
THE FUEL REVIEW: For the second time in a matter of just a few weeks, the Indy Fuel assembled back-to-back victories on home ice at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. This past weekend the resurgent Indy club was especially impressive in derailing two top first place teams, atop their respective divisions. Wrapping up a span that saw the team play 8 of 9-games in their own home stable, Indy opened the weekend on Friday night with a thrilling and harrowing 3-2 triumph over Eastern Conference North Division front-running Wheeling. Center Mike Neal’s goal with only 3:04 remaining in regulation time, shattered the 2-2 deadlock, catapulting his club into the victory circle for the first time in 2-home affairs this season against the high-tech, high-octane Nailers attack. Nathan Noel (FG) and Tommy Olczyk (GTG) also delivered for the victors with Reed Seckel authoring 2-assists. Returning from a 6-weeks’ absence due to injury, first-year goaltender Matt Tomkins was the master of his domain as he rebuked 48 of 50 Wheeling shots to earn his second victory of the season. Then on Saturday night, the aroused and vivified men of the Fuel were awesome and then-some, orchestrating a 7-1 demolition of Western Conference Mountain Division leading Wichita on the Fuel’s annual, ever-popular “Teddy Bear Toss Night.” Team captain Neal, again, was at the forefront for the Fuel attack, firing a pair of strikes including the game’s early FG at the 2:51 mark of the opening period. Neal’s goal triggered a veritable cascade of stuffed animals and other assorted furry creatures in a marvelous and magical Christmas-spirited spectacle. Cam Reid also connected twice for the Fuel while Matt Rupert (PPG/GWG), Noel and Johnny McInnis caged singletons. Ryan Rupert assisted twice. In goal, Tomkins performed a remarkable encore act, brushing aside 40 of 41-shots.
THE STATE OF THE FUEL: On the impetus of their two impactful victories the past weekend, the Fuel have surged into a share of 6th place in the Western Conference Central Division Standings with Quad City 21(8-12-1)17 with 1-game in hand on the Mallards who are 6(2-4-0) through the initial 6-games of an extended 9-games’ road sojourn. With a season record of 20(7-10-3)17-points through the first 20-games of the campaign, Indy is gradually creeping up on the rest of its division. First place Toledo is currently mired in a 3-game losing streak with all 3-setbacks incurred at home while third place Cincinnati has dropped 4-games in succession. Within their own division, the Fuel have compiled a mark of 10(2-6-2) with the victories attained against Kalamazoo 1(1-0-0) and Quad City 4(1-1-2). They are 5(0-5-0) combined against Toledo 3(0-3-0); Fort Wayne 1(0-1-0) and Kansas City 1(0-1-0).
HECTIC DOCKET: Currently in the midst of their most strenuous stretch of the season, consisting of 6-games in 9-nights, the Fuel-men are embarking on a rigorous regimen this week of 4-games in 5-nights with 2 of those at home and 2-more on the road. Three of the contests this week will be crucial encounters against fellow fractious foes from the Central Division. Tuesday night, the Fuel launch the week on the road with an encore date at Wheeling against the Nailers. Indy is 2(1-1-0) against the West Virginia contingent with both previous bouts staged in Indianapolis. The Fuel will then host their first of 2-home appearances for this week on Thursday night when they renew hostilities with divisional foe Quad City. Indy is 4(1-1-2) in 4-decisions when tangling with the “Greenheads” thus far this season. Beginning Friday night, the Fuel will launch a two-games’ home-and-home series against their principal archrivals, the Fort Wayne Komets. Coach Bernie John’s aggregation will be hosted by the Ks Friday before the two clubs return to Indianapolis for the encore engagement Saturday night. Indy is 1(0-1-0) against the Fort Wayners this season.
THE FUEL FILL-UP: The Fuel will enter this week having accrued its second 2-game win streak of the season. It equals their longest win skein of the current campaign. They are 4(3-1-0) in the last 4-starts; 9(5-4-0) over the last 9-outings. On home ice, the Fuel are riding the rising rapids of a season-best 3-game winning streak; 3(3-0-0). They are 8(5-3-0) in their last 8-home appearances. The month of December has been launched on a high note as their 4(3-1-0) mark would reflect. One year ago, December 2016, Indy mustered a menial 1-win for the entire month, going 13(1-11-1) for the last month of the calendar year. On the road, the Fuel record stands at 5(0-3-2) in the last 5-expeditions abroad. They are 9(1-5-3) overall in foreign ice warfare with their lone victory coming back on October 27th in Florida where they inflicted the league-leading Everblades with one of only 2-losses this season, a 5-2 victory verdict.
TO SCORE/TO NOT TO SCORE: The rejuvenation and revitalization of the galvanized Fuel nation has been the combination of timely, opportunistic goal-cannoneering prowess and stingy, stellar defensive domination. In capturing conquests in each of their last 4-contests, the Fuel have outscored their beleaguered opposition competition, 15-7. That is a GFA of a prolific terrific 3.75 and a GAA of a miserly 1.75. Twice in those last 4- starts, the club has grudgingly surrendered a scant 1-GA while their 7-GF Saturday night against Wichita represented their most potent offensive attack for the current campaign. On home ice, during their 3-game win streak, the Fuel have dominated their opponents, 13-4; GFA: 4.33; GAA: a microscopic 1.33.
THE CAPTAIN CONNECTS: Team captain Mike Neal continues to assert his offensive presence in the Fuel lineup. The 28-year-old, 9-year pro was integrally instrumental in his club’s back-to-back weekend home wins over the first- place clubs from Wheeling and Wichita. Friday night, his late, dramatic goal with 3:04 remaining in the third period, severed a 2-2 saw-off, producing some thrilling theater in a 3-2 triumph. Named the #2 Star, the Indy center carded a masterful +3 rating. Saturday night, Neal struck, again, with the touch-in-the-clutch, delivering the key, early game’s FG to set the tone, tenor and tempo in a Fuel 7-1 romp over Wichita. The veteran forward actually emanated and culminated the 7-goals’ onslaught by delivering the 7th and final strike as he, again, was hailed the game’s #2 Star, authoring a +2 rating and becoming the team’s first player to register 2-goals in a game on 2-separate occasions. For the week, Neal was 2(3-1-4) with a brilliant +5 rating. In his last 6-games; 6(6-1-7). Though he was marked absent for the club’s first 6-games of the season, his 7-total goals tie him for the team’s top total with Nick Bligh. Neal is the Fuel’s nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
AMAZING MATT: After a 6-weeks’ absence from the lineup due to injury, first-year goaltender Matt Tomkins announced his return to the Fuel with a high, huge exclamation point! The former Ohio State U., standout was acclaimed the game’s #1 Star Friday night, repelling 48 of 50 Wheeling shots in a Fuel thrilling 3-2 triumph over the Nailers. Then on Saturday night, the parent club Chicago Blackhawks 2012 7th round draft pick, flustered Wichita with 40-more saves on 41-shots to spur his squad to a 7-1 domination of the Thunder. He was named the #3 Star on Saturday night. For the week, Tomkins was 2(2-0-0) with a microscopic 1.50 GAA and brilliant .967 SPCT, rejecting 88 of 91-shots. For the season, he is a perfect personified 3(3-0-0) with a 1.45 GAA and .962 SPCT. Tomkins is the Fuel nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
THE NOEL ROLL: Another of the Fuel prize rookie luminaries has been center/right wing Nathan Noel. Another Blackhawks draft selection of the 4th round in 2016, the QMJHL Saint John’s Seas Dogs product has emerged as a major offensive catalyst in the Fuel’s offensive scheme. For two straight nights the past weekend, he engineered 1-goal and 1-assist with +2 and +1 ratings respectively. Moreover, his 2-goals were produced on 2-SOG, exercising economy with his goal-scoring shooting accuracy. For the weekend; 2(2-2-4) with +3 rating and the #3 Star honors on Friday night when he opened the game’s scoring in the 3-2 win over Wheeling.
THE REED RUMBLE: Indy sparkplug Reed Seckel has been the consummate on-ice antagonist thus far this season. Installed on the same line with team captain Mike Neal and rookie Nathan Noel, the 3-year pro from Northern Michigan U., continues to clear the way for his sharpshooting line-mates. The past weekend, he collected 2-assists in 2-games with both helpers essayed in the Friday win over Wheeling. For the weekend, Seckel was 2(0-2-2) with a masterful +5 rating.
MAJOR MARQUEE MARKSMEN: Beginning the new week, the Fuel’s top point producers for the season: 1- Cam Reid 18(6-10-16); 2- Nick Bligh 20(7-7-14); 3- Alex Wideman 20(6-7-13); 4- Ryan Rupert 16(5-7-12); 5- Mike Neal 14(7-3-10); 6- Matt Rupert 20(4-5-9); 7- Nathan Noel 11(4-4-8); 8- Reed Seckel 20(2-6-8); 9- Tommy Olczyk 19(5-2-7); 10- Nolan Descoteaux 20(1-6-7); 11- Brandon Anselmini 11(1-6-7); 12- Zach Miskovic 20(3-3-6).
UNEVEN STRENGTH STRONG: The Fuel special teams enjoyed yet another extraordinary weekend, both on the power play and in the penalty-killing categories. In their weekend sweep of Wheeling and Wichita, the power play percolated to the tune of 2-5; 40% proficiency rating. When they scored those 2-PPG in their Saturday night resounding success over the Thunder, it marked the fifth time already this season that Indy has generated multiple PPG games. This matches their entire season output of last season in this department. In recent action, the power play is 3 for the last 6; 50%; 4 for the last 11; 36.4% and 7 for the last 27; 26%. For the season, 16-81; 19.8%. As far as the penalty-killing cast is concerned, defending the league’s two premiere power play units in the forms of Wheeling and Wichita, the Fuel were flawless and faultless, going a perfect 6-6 in the 2-games. Indy has presently defused 12-consecutive man advantages; 12-12; 100%. For the season, the opposition is 12-85 for an efficiency rating of a supreme 85.9%. The Fuel’s 4-SHG are 4th most in the loop and equal their entire output for all last season.
MILLING MILESTONES: Right wing Johnny McInnis celebrated his 200th pro game Saturday night with his 4th goal of the season and 2nd since joining the Fuel in the 7-1 roasting of Wichita. Defenseman Nolan Descoteaux (193) is 7-games away from his pro career 200. Mike Neal (488) is 12-games away from the pro career 500. Defenseman Zach Miskovic (91) is 9-assists from 100. Center/left wing Reed Seckel (195) is 5-PIM from 200. Ryan Rupert (194) is 6-PIM from 200, Cam Reid (189) is 11-PIM from 200.
FUEL FACTS: The Fuel momentarily and temporarily knocked both Wheeling and Wichita off their first- place perches with their back-to-back victories over the weekend against both clubs. They outscored the two highest scoring teams in the league, 10-3. Moreover, they foreclosed the top 2 power play arsenals in the loop as the Nailers and the Thunder were a combined 0-6. Indy’s 7-goal output Saturday night was the best single game offensive output of the season. Their 4-second period goals in the same games represented the Fuel’s best offensive stanza of the season as well. Indy is now 5(3-1-1) against the Western Conference Mountain Division this season. When they score 4 or more, the Fuel boast an unblemished log of 4(4-0-0). They are also undefeated when allowing 2-GA or less at 7(6-0-1). The Fuel have been outshot in 14 of their first 20-games, posting a record of 14(5-7-2). They are 6(2-3-1) when outshooting their enemies. Indy has scored the game’s FG in 8 of 20-games, posting a record of 8(5-2-1); they are 12(2-8-2) when surrendering same. Defenseman Garrett Clarke’s 109-PIM rank #2 in the ECHL while his 22-minor penalties are the most in the circuit.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: All this season, all Indy Fuel action, home and away, play-by-play, all the way, can be heard on the world-wide internet on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com. “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli will describe all the action radio-ice-side for the hometown team. This week’s broadcast schedule consists of 4-games in 5-nights. Tuesday night on the road from Wheeling, beginning at 6:30 pm; Thursday night on home ice against Quad City at 6:30 pm; Friday night from Fort Wayne at 7:30 pm and Saturday night at home, an encore duel against the Komets, beginning at 7:00 pm.
INDY FUEL LIVE: The next edition of “INDY FUEL LIVE” is set for Tuesday night, December 19th from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, live from Aspen Creek Grill in Noblesville. “The Voice of the Fuel,” Terry Ficorelli, will be hosting Fuel special guests including Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis.
ECHL ALL STAR TICKETS ON SALE NOW: Individual tickets are now available for the 2018 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic taking place at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on January 15, 2018! Fans can secure their seats for the league’s mid-season showcase event by visiting ECHLAllStarClassic.com, the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Box Office or by calling (317) 925-FUEL.
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