Indy Fuel Pit Stop Weekly
THE FUEL IN REVIEW: The Indy Fuel's annual "BLACKHAWKS NIGHT" was yet another enormous success on Saturday night at their home of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. For the second consecutive year a huge, sellout crowd of 6,542 were in attendance as the Indy club guested its Western Conference Central Division rivals, the first place Toledo Walleye. Saturday night's SRO crowd was the Fuel's second straight sellout for the current season as well as their second largest SRO throng in the club's 4-year history. As far as the Fuel's two-games in two-nights weekend of game activity was concerned, on Friday night, Indy capped a stretch of 4-consecutive invasions as interlopers into hostile territory, succumbing to home standing Wheeling, 7-3. The defeat prevented the Fuel from completing a clean sweep of their 4-games' foreign ice expedition, settling, nevertheless for a supreme mark of 4(3-1-0). Darian Dziurzynski did connect on a pair of snipes for the Fuel while Johnny McInnis caged a singleton and Mike Neal assisted on both of Dziurzynski's strikes. The loss also halted the Fuel's third 3-game win streak of the season, still their longest of the campaign in that particular department. With the win, the Nailers captured the season series against Indy at 5(3-2-0). Returning home Saturday night, the Fuel's nemesis from Toledo chilled Indy with an opening minute goal, forcing the Fuel to play "catch-up" the rest of the night. Despite the spirited efforted, the Fuel fell, yet again, to the first place Walleye, 4-2. Both the home team's goals were the product of the power play with Josh Shalla (1-1-2) PP and Robin Press (PP) each unleashing howitzers. Indy outshot Toledo, 46-37 and 19-12 in the third period. Saturday night's appearance was the Fuel's last on home ice until Tuesday, February 20th when they host Cincinnati at 10:30 am at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum for the Fuel's first-ever EDUCATION DAY game.
STANDINGS STATE FOR FUEL: Entering the 19th week of the 2017-18 ECHL season, the Fuel are continuing their concerted bid to attain their initial Kelly Cup Playoffs' berth in the organization's 4-year history. Under the auspices of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the Fuel will continue the new week of league action residing in 6th place in the Western Conference Central Division standings with a record of 43(19-21-3) totaling 41-points. With still 29-more games remaining on their slate, and 25-of those against their own divisional rivals, the men of the Fuel are certainly in the potential position of determining their own fate and destiny in the hunt for the playoffs. The Fuel are presently 9-points behind 4th place Kalamazoo 44(23-17-4) 50 and Cincinnati 44(24-18-2) 50-points. Indy has 1-game in hand on both the Wings and the Cyclones. The Fuel trail 3rd place Kansas City 47(25-21-1) 51 by 10-points with 4-games in hand on the Mavericks. The rest of the division: 1- Toledo 45(29-12-4) 62; 2- Fort Wayne 44(29-13-2) 60; 7- Quad City 43(14-25-4) 32.
DISSECTION OF DIVISION: For the Fuel, victories aplenty will be required for the post-season playoffs to become a reality; especially within their own division. The breakdown at this hour of the season: Toledo 5(0-5-0); home: 3(0-3-0); road: 2(0-2-0); 4-more games to play; 3 at home; 1 on road. Fort Wayne 6(1-5-0); home: 4(0-4-0); road: 2(1-1-0); 3-more games; 2 at home; 1 on road. Kansas City 1(0-1-0); home: 1(0-1-0); road: 0(0-0-0); 4-more meetings; 2 at home; 2 on road. Kalamazoo 6(4-2-0); home: 2(1-1-0); road: 4(3-1-0); 4-more games; 1-at home; 3-more on road. Cincinnati 4(4-0-0); home: 3(3-0-0); road: 1(1-0-0); 6-more meetings; 3-home; 3-road. Quad City 7(3-2-2); home: 2(2-0-0); road: 5(1-2-2); 4-more games to play; 3-home 1-road. The Fuel's combined record against Kalamazoo and Cincinnati, the two teams currently tied for the 4th and final playoff berth is 10(8-2-0). When adding Quad City, the mark is 17(11-4-2). Against the top 3-teams in the division; Toledo, Fort Wayne and Kansas City, their record is 12(1-11-0) and 8(0-8-0) at home.
THE SEVEN SOJOURN: Beginning this weekend on Friday night when they sojourn to Moline, IL to be hosted by the Quad City Mallards, the "Fuel-men" will play their next 7-games in foreign territory. The first 3-such affairs are on the slate for this upcoming weekend. After the junket to the Quad Cities, Indy will "hike-it" to Kalamazoo for another two-games' series in under 24-hours against the Wings at the Wings Event Center. The Saturday night, Sunday matinee combination are set for 7:00 pm on Saturday and 3:00 pm on Sunday.
EDUCATION DAY DATE: For the first time in their ECHL history, the Indy Fuel will play host for their initial EDUCATION DAY GAME on Tuesday morning, February 20th at 10:30 am at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum against one of their principal archenemies, the Cincinnati Cyclones. On this date, the Fuel will be making their first home appearance in 17-days, since February 3rd. Beginning with this game and following their 7-consecutive games away from home bay, the Fuel will play 15 of their last 22-games at the friendly climes and environs of their hockey home of the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
THE FUEL NUMEROLOGY : In dropping a pair of outings in as many nights the past weekend, the Fuel saw their third 3-game win streak, matching their longest of the current campaign come to a close. Moreover, their second 3-game win streak abroad also was halted. The latest Fuel numbers at this juncture of the season; last 10(6-4-0); last 12(7-5-0); last 16(10-6-0); last 18(11-7-0). After launching the season with a mark of 16(4-9-3), the Fuel, since December 1st, have engineered a winning record of 27(15-12-0). Home ice numbers: last 2(0-2-0) with the 2-losses to Fort Wayne and Toledo; overall last 7(4-3-0); last 13(8-5-0). On the road: last 4(3-1-0); last 10(7-3-0). The Fuel have been exceling in 1-goal outcomes as well, winning the last 6-in succession; last 6(6-0-0). In the process, they have elevated their record in this category to 18(10-5-3). Indy has enjoyed two consecutive winning months; December 14(8-6-0); January 11(7-4-0).
"DOUBLE D" DOUBLES: Left wing Darian Dziurzynski has continued to be a consistent offensive force and factor for the Fuel since his arrival here through a deal with Rapid City. The former 5th round choice of the Arizona Coyotes in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, propelled a pair of snipes on Friday night in an otherwise less-than exemplary night for his club in a 7-3 setback inflicted by the Nailers in Wheeling. It was the veteran forward's second 2-goal game since joining Indy and it advanced his total goals' output for the season to 12 with 11 of those struck wearing the Fuel coat of arms. He has averaged a point a game in his first 18-Fuel starts; 18(11-7-18) with his club posting an 18(11-7-0) record since his advent to the lineup. Dziurzynski is the Fuel nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
THE DOBBS DETOUR: First-year goaltender Greg Dobbs has rushed-in and filled the breach adeptly, adroitly and admirably for the Fuel; especially with the departure of all 3-Indy netminders who commenced the current campaign with the hometown team. The Wingham, Ontario product saw service in both of his club's contests the past weekend. Performing in a relief role in his club's 7-3 setback at Wheeling on Friday night, before receiving his second start Saturday night at home against first place Toledo, Dobbs filled the bill on both occasions. In those 2-outings, he posted a 3.74 GAA and .902 SPCT. For the second straight week, Dobbs gains the nod as the Fuel's nomination for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
THE SHALLA SHOT: Goal-scoring artisan Josh Shalla is the veritable virtuoso in the knack on the attack department. On Saturday night, against his former Toledo team, the 6th-year pro fashioned points on both of his team's goals with both brewed on the Fuel's potent power play; (1-1-2). It was his 3rd PPG since his second coming to Indy. Since his return, in 13-games, Shalla is 13(10-5-15) with 3-PPG, 3-multiple goal games, 1-hat trick and 1-GWG with an excellent +7 rating.
THE GONE GOALTENDERS : When the current season was launched, the Fuel were boasting of superior depth in their goaltending livery. Talented rookies the ilk and constellation of Collin Delia, Matt Tomkins and Etienne Marcoux epitomized the strength of the Indy Fuel nation. It is a different landscape now as all 3-net-minders have made their way to the AHL with Delia and Tomkins remaining on an extended recall period with the Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate Rockford while Marcoux, a Fuel contracted chattel has been summoned to AHL Springfield, the top farm club home for the NHL Florida Panthers. Greg Dobbs has been signed from the Macon Mayhem of the SPHL and more recently this past week, second-year pro Adam Carlson has been assigned to Indy by the NHL Washington Capitals.
SCORING KINGPINS: This week's top point-producing impresarios for the Fuel: 1- Mike Neal 37(13-17-30); 2- Cam Reid 41(9-20-29); 3- Ryan Rupert 38((9-20-29); 4- Darian Dziurzynski 36(12-11-23); 5- Johnny McInnis 35(12-9-21); 6- Alex Wideman 32(9-13-22); 7- Matt Rupert 42(8-13-21); 8- Nolan Descoteaux 39(1-15-16); 9- Josh Shalla 13(10-5-15); 10- Robin Press 24(5-10-15); 11- Tommy Olczyk 36(9-3-12); 12- Stephen Collins 22(2-10-12); 13- Reed Seckel 41(4-8-12); 14- Brandon Anselmini 18(2-10-12); 15- Zach Miskovic 43(5-6-11).
SPECIAL TEAMS TUNED: The Fuel halted an uncharacteristically 0-14 dearth on their power play on home ice Saturday night when they connected on each of their last 2-man advantages against the league's second-best penalty-killing unit in the form of the Walleye. In the process, the extra man band climbed to #2 in the ECHL, operating at 20.5% proficiency; 34-166. Indy's 34-PPG are 6-more PPG than it registered all last season. Their multiple PPG performance Saturday night represented the 9th time thus far this season that the Fuel have accomplished this feat. Meantime, in the same game Saturday night, the penalty-killing cast was revived as it defused the Toledoans power play on all 4 of its missions. The PK is rated 10th best in the loop, operating at 83.6% efficiency rating with the opponents being 30-182. The Fuel's 10-SHG are 6-more than they accounted for all last season and ranks them third best in the ECHL.
MILESTONES STORY: Veteran defenseman Zach Miskovic presently stands alone as the only player to play in all 43-Fuel games thus far this season. Miskovic (94) is just 6-assists away from career 100. Darian Dziurzynski (92) is 8-goals shy of pro career 100-goals. Cam Reid (347) is 3-games away from 350-pro career games. Reid (195) is 5-PIM from 200-PIM for his career. Garrett Clarke played in his 250th pro game the past Saturday night at home against Toledo. Clarke is currently closing in on 1,100-PIM for his professional career.
FUEL FACTS: Mike Neal (2), Ryan Rupert (2) and Josh Shalla (2) share the team leadership in UG with 2. Neal's 3-GWG top the team; Cam Reid (2) and Matt Rupert (2) each have 2-GWG. The Fuel are 29(12-15-2) against their own Western Conference Central Division and 14(9-5-0) in their last 14-such episodes. Against the rest of the league, the Fuel have eclipsed the .500 barrier at 14(7-6-1). The Fuel have lost 7-games in a row to Toledo, dating back to last season. Lifetime, they are 22(2-20-0) against the Walleye. In their last 5-games in Kalamazoo, the Fuel have posted a stellar record of 5(4-1-0). With 19-victories at this stage of the season, the Fuel are 4-wins away from duplicating last season's output of 23. Their current total of 11-home wins is 2-shy of last year's total of 13 while their 8-road victories are only 2-wins away from matching last season's 10-victories abroad. Of Indy's 5-exttra time games this season, only one has occurred on home ice and that was back on opening night, October 21st when they topped Tulsa in the OTSO, 3-2. Indy's 19-SOG in the third period Saturday night on home ice against Toledo represented their most SOG for one period this season. In addition their total of 46-SOG for the game rank as their second most for one game this year.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week's Indy Fuel broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com lists three games in three days on the weekend road show docket. Friday night, it will be the Fuel at Quad City with the game broadcast to begin at 7:30 pm, live from Tax Slayer Center in downtown Moline, IL. Saturday and Sunday, the Fuel game broadcasts will originate from Kalamazoo for the Fuel and the Wings. Saturday night's broadcast at 6:30 pm and Sunday's matinee encore presentation will be on the air at 2:30 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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