INDY FUEL PIT STOP Weekly: WEEK 16
(By Terry Ficorelli)
IT'S A THREE-PEAT ROAD WEEKEND FOR THE FUEL; THEY COMPLETE THE SWEEP OF 3-WINS IN 3-DAYS
INDY HITS THE .500 MARK ON THIRD THREE-GAME WIN STREAK OF SEASON AND SECOND ONE ON THE ROAD
FUEL ZEST FOR PLAYOFFS CONTINUES; IN WHEELING FRIDAY; "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT" SATURDAY NIGHT
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: 4(3-1-0) 18-14
TUES. JAN. 23 FORT WAYNE 5 AT FUEL 3.
FRI. JAN. 26 FUEL 5 AT CINCINNATI 4 (OT).
SAT. JAN. 27 FUEL 5 AT KALAMAZOO 3.
SUN. JAN. 28 FUEL 5 AT KALAMAZOO 2.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES: (2)
FRI. FEB. 2 THE FUEL AT WHEELING 7:05 PM
SAT. FEB. 3 TOLEDO AT THE FUEL 7:35 PM "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT" WITH DANIEL CARCILLO !!!
NEXT FUEL HOME GAME: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3RD VS. TOLEDO 7:35 PM ON "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT!"
ALL FUEL GAMES BROADCAST LIVE ON INDIANAPOLIS' WFNI-AM 1070 THE FAN.COM
THE FUEL REVIEW: The forward flight of the Indy Fuel continues. Under the direction of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the men of Fuel ECHL hockey completed their best weekend of the 2017-18 campaign when they swept through three road games in less than 3-days with all three triumphs attained within their own Western Conference Central Division. In the process, they have not only made the long, arduous climb to the .500 barrier, but also, more importantly, have moved ever so closer to Kelly Cup Playoffs' consideration. The 4-games' week actually was broached rather inauspiciously as in their lone home appearance of the week, the Fuel fell on Tuesday night to visiting Fort Wayne, 5-3. Josh Shalla (1-1-2), Darian Dziurzynski (1-1-2) and Johnny McInnis (PPG) were the Indy sharpshooters. However,undaunted and untrammeled, the hottest team in the ECHL came alive in facing the daunting challenge of 3-road games in less than 3-days, claiming a complete sweep. Starting on Friday night in Cincinnati where the Fuel overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to take down the Cyclones in OT, 5-4. Ryan Rupert's goal at the :31 mark of the 5:00 "sudden death" extra session captured the conquest in the contest for the Fuel. R. Rupert (1-1-2), Mike Neal (1-1-2) PPG, Darian Dziurzynski (PPG/GTG), Matt Rupert (TBG) and Zack Miskovic made connection for the come-from-behind spirited victors with Nolan Descoteaux dishing 3-assists. "ET" Marcoux earned the victory, making 20-saves. Saturday night in Kalamazoo, the Fuel offensive eruption took the form of 4-consecutive strikes with 3 of those stoked in a second period flurry, erasing a 1-0 shortfall and prevailing over the Wings, 5-3. Scoring balance was, once again, the key to unlocking victory for Indy's icers as 5-different Fuel-men fired strikes. Brandon Anselmini spearheaded the attack with (1-2-3) SHG/GWG, Robin Press (1-1-2); Cam Reid (1-1-2); Stephen Collins and Johnny McInnis (ENG) were the major marquee marksmen. In his first-ever Fuel start, rookie goaltender Greg Dodds pulled off an enormous performance with 53-saves. Sunday, still in Kalamazoo, the Fuel waylaid the Wings one more time. This time, it was an Indy 3-goals opening period explosion in the span of 5:32 that propelled the club to a third straight success, a 5-2 victory. Ryan Rupert (2-0-2) emanated and culminated the Fuel and the game's scoring with the FG/SHG as well as the ENG while Robin Press (1-1-2) GWG, Tommy Olcyzk and Josh Shalla also delivered the goods. Cam Reid essayed 2-assists. Marcoux, returning in goal after making 13-straight starts recorded his latest victory with 32-saves.
STANDINGS STATE OF THE FUEL: Having fashioned with a flair their latest win streak, the men of the Fuel have climbed to the .500 plateau with a mark of 41(19-19-3) totaling 41-points. In accomplishing the feat, the 6th place Indy squadron has crept within 5-points of 5th place Cincinnati 41(22-17-2)46 and 7-points of 4th place Kalamazoo 42(22-16-4)48 with 1-game in hand on the Wings who have dropped 3 of their last 4-starts. Meanwhile, the Cyclones are 8(1-6-1) in their last 8-dates. Indy has climbed to within 8-points of 3rd place Kansas City 44(24-19-1)49 with 3-games in hand on the Mavericks. For the rest of the Western Conference Central Division; 1- Toledo 44(28-12-4)60 and a 3-games' win streak; 2- Fort Wayne 42(27-13-2)56 and 7(6-1-0) in the last 7-games. Quad City 40(11-25-4)26 is in 7th position. "Bernie's Boys" have shown sharp improvement within their own divisional alignment, having assembled a stellar 13(9-4-0) mark over the last 13-decisions; they are 28(12-14-2) overall. The breakdown: 1-Toledo 4(0-4-0); 5-more meetings. 2- Fort Wayne 6(1-5-0); 3-more games. 3- Kansas City 1(0-1-0); 4-more times. 4- Kalamazoo 6(4-2-0); 4-more games. 5- Cincinnati 4(4-0-0); 6- more games. 7- Quad City 7(3-2-2); 4-more meetings. The Fuel are in the middle of playing 30 of their final 35-games against their own divisional foes.
"BLACKHAWKS NIGHT": The reincarnated Fuel have 2-games on their docket this weekend. Friday night, it's a sojourn to Wheeling where they will be hosted by the Nailers in the 5th and final meeting of the season. The series is "even-steven" at 4(2-2-0). In the last clash, back on New Year's Eve in the West Virginia exotic burg, the Fuel extracted a 3-2 victory verdict as defenseman Riley Sweeney fired a pair of goals including the GWG. Then on Saturday night, the Fuel present their annual ever-popular "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT" at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum with very special Chicago Blackhawks guests, DANIEL CARCILLO, and singing the National Anthem Indiana's own IU grad, famed and renowned Blackhawks crooner, JIM CORNELISON.
THE FUEL'S WINNING NUMBERS: For the third time this season, the Fuel have achieved their longest winning skein of 3-in a row; last 3(3-0-0); having scored 5-goals in each victory. Indy capped its most demanding part of the schedule consisting of 7-games in 10-days with a stellar mark of 7(5-2-0); going 3(2-1-0) at home and 4(3-1-0) on the road. Overall for the Fuel; last 8(6-2-0); last 10(7-3-0); last 14(10-4-0); last 16(11-5-0). After launching the season with a record of 16(4-9-3), the Fuel since December 1st, are 25(15-10-0). On home ice, last 3(2-1-0); last 6(4-2-0); last 12(8-4-0). On the road, the Fuel have currently attained their second 3-games' win streak of the season; last 3(3-0-0). Moreover, on the road last 9(7-2-0). Indy also has been prospering in 1-goal games, having won 6-in a row; last 6(6-0-0), upgrading their record for the season to 18(10-5-3). January represented the Fuel's second consecutive winning month, posting an 11(7-4-0) record; December 14(8-6-0).
TWIN TWINE TIME: Center Ryan Rupert was never better than he was the past week. The lookalike twin brother of his line-mate, left wing Matt Rupert, distinguished himself handsomely as a major spoke in the Fuel's winning wheel. In 4-games the past week, Ryan Rupert was 4(2-3-5) with a healthy + 6 rating. He was a brilliant +7 in the Fuel's 3-games' road sweep on the weekend. R. Rupert fired the GWG in OT Friday night in Cincinnati, producing his club's 5-4 triumph before assisting on the TBG Saturday night and posting a masterful +3 rating in the 5-3 win in Kalamazoo. Sunday, he culminated his extraordinary weekend masterpiece with 2-goals to "bookend" his team's scoring; FG/SHG and ENG. In the latter contest, he was named the game's #3 Star. Ryan Rupert is the Fuel's nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
DODDS DYNAMIC DEBUT FOR FUEL: First-year goaltender Greg Dodds was called upon to make his first-ever start in the Fuel goal Saturday night in game one of the two-games' series in Kalamazoo. The Western Ontario U., product did not disappoint as he backstopped his team to a 5-3 triumph, repelling 53 of 56-shots in making the most saves on the most shots on goal against the Fuel so far this campaign. After two relief appearances, Dodds, in his first start is the Fuel's nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
SECOND COMING KINETIC: The second coming of right wing Josh Shalla has been kinetic and electric in the meteoric rise of the Fuel. Arriving in time for the start of the New Year 2018, the 6-year pro seemed to pick up where he left off last season in his unique niche of goal-scoring cannoneering. In 11-games for the month, the Oshawa, Ontario product sniped 9-goals, added 4-assists for 13-points and a brilliant +8 rating. Included in his prolific point portfolio were 3-muliple goal games, 1-three-goal "hat trick," 2-PPG and 1-GWG along with 43-SOG. He was named the game's #1 Star once and the #2 Star twice. He was even or plus in 9 of his team's 11-games for January. Shalla is the Fuel nomination for ECHL Player of the Month.
"ET" E-MENSE: First-year goaltending sensation "ET" Marcoux has been the savior of the Fuel nation with his precocious puck-prevention attention. With goaltenders Collin Delia and Matt Tomkins both remaining on protracted recall to the AHL Rockford IceHogs, Marcoux has responded masterfully as a key cog in this Fuel renaissance. Until the past Saturday night's Fuel outing in Kalamazoo, the Laval, PQ native had made 13-straight starts spanning exactly one month from December 27th to January 27th. For the month of January, in 10-starts, he authored a record of 10(6-4-0) overall and 6(4-2-0) away from home bay. His SPCT for the month was .900. Marcoux is the Indy nation nomination for ECHL Goaltender of the Month.
THE KNACK COMING TO JACK: First-year defenseman Jack Burton has truly come a long way since the inception of his first full pro season. The former Colby College standout has laid some sound and solid "Burton Bricks" in building a strong foundation for the Fuel's blue line brigade. For the month of January, the growingly confident rearguard saw action in all 11-games, engineering 1-goal, 3-assists, 4-points and +1 rating. He was even or plus in 8 of his team's 11-games. Burton is the Fuel nomination for ECHL Rookie of the Month.
THE POLISHED PLAYMAKER: Center Cam Reid continues to do his on-ice work quietly but always very effectively. In his club's 3-games in 3-days weekend road victory sweep, Indy's leading scorer with (9-20-29) achieved a sparkling +6 rating, going 3(1-3-4) with those 4-points accrued in the 2-games series sweep in Kalamazoo; game 1: (1-1-2) +2; game 2: (0-2-2) +3. Reid's 20-assists overall and 8-PPA are foremost for the Fuel. For January, Reid was 11(2-8-10).
MIGHTY MIKE MASTERY: Team captain and All-Star center Mike Neal has been a paragon of consistency and proficiency all season long. Indy's second leading scoring ace of the place with 35(13-15-28) enjoyed another outstanding month of point prowess proficiency with 11(3-7-10) along with an outstanding +8 rating. During the Fuel recent 16-games' span in which they have compiled a strong 16(11-5-0) record, the captain is 16(3-12-15) in that span.
SWEDISH SWAGGER: Defenseman Robin Press has those in the know shouting out "stop the 'presses'!! The Swedish import and 7th round parent club Chicago Blackhawks draft choice has been playing the best hockey of his pro career; especially since his most recent re-assignment by AHL Rockford. In the two-games' series sweep in Kalamazoo, he authored 2(2-2-4) with a scintillating +6 rating. In the Saturday night 5-3 victory, Press was (1-1-2), equaling the best individual premium, positive, plus performance of the season at +4. Press wasn't done yet. In the Sunday 5-2 triumph, he fired the third goal, the ultimate GWG, in his club's 3-goals' opening period powder keg, earning a +2 rating.
DIMINUTIVE DYNAMIC: Second-year defenseman Brandon Anselmini enjoyed his best game of the season in Saturday night's 5-3 comeback conquest in Kalamazoo. The former Ferris State star was the supreme catalyst in authoring (1-2-3) with a +3 rating. His electrifying coast-to-coast SHG flight in the last minute of the second period climaxed Indy's 3-goals' middle period uprising and proved to be the GWG in the 5-3 win. On Sunday, Anselmini authored 1-more assist and attained a +2 rating in the 5-2 encore success. For the 2-games; 2(1-3-4) +5.
"DOUBLE 'D" DOUBLES DOWN: Veteran left wing Darian Dziurzynski has been paramount in paralleling the Fuel's resurgence. Since his arrival here 16-games ago, the team has been playing and winning with its best hockey of the season. During that span, the Fuel have composed a sparkling mark of 16(11-5-0). Dziurzynski has been averaging virtually a point a game with 16(9-6-15) including 3-PPG. For January, he was 11(5-4-9) with 39-SOG and +1 rating.
POINT-PRODUCING PROWESS: With the conclusion of the January schedule and the advent of February's slate on the docket, the Fuel list of scoring leaders: 1- Cam Reid 39(9-20-29); 2- Mike Neal 35(13-15-28); 3- Ryan Rupert 36(9-19-28); 4- Alex Wideman 32(9-13-22); 5- Matt Rupert 40(8-12-20); 6- Darian Dziurzynski 34(10-10-20); 7- Johnny McInnis 33(11-9-20); 8- Nolan Descoteaux 39(1-15-16); 9- Robin Press 22(4-10-14); 10- Josh Shalla 11(9-4-13); 11- Tommy Olczyk 34(9-3-12); 12- Stephen Collins 20(2-10-12); 13- Reed Seckel 39(4-7-11); 14- Brandon Anselmini 18(2-10-12); 15- Zack Miskovic 41(5-5-10).
POWER PLAY PROLIFIC: The Fuel power play continues to percolate prodigiously. It will launch the new week ranked a lofty third best in the ECHL with a proficiency rating of 20.4%, going 32-157. Their 32-PPG are already 4-more than they produced all of last season. The power play is 8 for the last 27; 29.6% and 15 for the last 57; 28.1%. Ryan Rupert (4), Matt Rupert (3), Alex Wideman (3) Mike Neal (3), Darian Dziurzynski (3), Johnny McInnis (3) are the Fuel front-runners. In the penalty-killing category, the Fuel continue to generate significant offense. In fact, their 10-SHG tie them for the league-leadership as Indy stun-gunned Kalamazoo with a pair of SHG strikes, one in each game, the past weekend. Ryan Rupert (3), Tommy Olczyk (3) share the league-lead; Nathan Noel (2), Matt Rupert (1), Brandon Anselmini (1) have been the Indy shorthanded bandits.
MINDING THE MILESTONES MINT: Left wing Matt Rupert's amazing streak of 111-consecutive Fuel games came to an end on Saturday night in Kalamazoo due to injury, though, he did return for Sunday's encore duel with the Wings. Until Saturday night, the Indy "Ironman" had never-ever missed a Fuel game since his arrival here with the inception of the 2016-17 season. Veteran Defenseman Zack Miskovic now stands alone as the lone Fuel player to play in all 41-games thus far this season. Miskovic's 92-assists is 8-shy of career 100. Darian Dziurzynski (90) is 10-goals away from career 100. Cam Reid (193) is 7-PIM from 200-PIM.
FUEL FACTS: When they score 4 or more, the Fuel are 12(11-1-0). They are undefeated at 13(12-0-1) entering the third period with the lead. Dating back to last season, the Fuel are 5(4-1-0) in their last 5-games in Kalamazoo against the Wings. Also, dating back to last season, the Fuel are undefeated at 5(5-0-0) in their last 5-outings against Cincinnati. When they prevailed in OT Friday night, the Fuel halted a 5-games' losing streak in Cincinnati dating back to last season. Their last victory until then was back on opening weekend of the '16-17 season on October 15, 2016, a 2-1 victory. Combined against Cincinnati and Kalamazoo, thee Fuel record is 10(8-2-0); adding Quad City, it is 17(11-4-2). Against Toledo, Fort Wayne and Kansas City 11(1-10-0). Indy's comeback OT victory Friday in Cincinnati was their first OT triumph in over 2-years. They had been 2(0-2) this season and 5(0-5-) dating back to last season. All 3 off the Fuel OT affairs this season have taken place on the road. Friday night's OT game was the Fuel's first extra time game in 27-games since back on November 12th in Quad City where the Mallards gained the bonus point, 2-1. Four of the Fuel's first 12-games this season were decided in extra time. The Fuel's 19-wins are just 4-shy of matching last season's total of 23. Their 11-home wins are 2-away of last season's total number of 13. Their 8-road wins are 2-away from equaling last season's total of 10.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week's Indy Fuel broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com lists two games on the docket. This week's slate: Friday night, the Fuel at Wheeling, beginning at 6:30 pm; Saturday night, on "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT," Toledo at the Fuel with the broadcast set 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 Monday night, February 26th, 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. Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis will be featured along with an array of Fuel players' guests on the Fuel radio home of WFNI 107.5 FM and 1070AM The Fan.
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