Indy Fuel Weekly: Week 18
THE FUEL REVIEW: Embarking on their longest, most arduous foreign ice journey into the ECHL hostile territories for this current 2017-18 season, the playoff-aspiring Indy Fuel have completed the first week's phase one of seven consecutive sojourns abroad, fashioning a winning record of 3(2-1-0). Under the direction of Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the men of Fuel hockey, confronting the daunting assignment of 3-road games in as many days with all 3-bouts about their own Western Conference Central Division competition, broached the weekend with a Friday night 4-1 victory verdict in Moline, IL against the Quad City Mallards. Nursing a 1-0 advantage through the initial two stanzas, the "Fuel-men" uncorked a 3-goals' third period surge, a mere :29 after the Quad Citians had knotted the contest at 1-1. The Rupert twins, along with line-mate Josh Shalla spearheaded the victors scoring with the entire trio caging singletons. Ryan Rupert (1-2-3) PPG; Matt Rupert (1-1-2) GWG; Shalla (1-1-2) FG. Stephen Collins also made connection while goaltender Matt Tomkins attained #1 Star honors with a magnificent 45-saves performance. Traveling to Kalamazoo for a pair of affairs with the Wings, the Fuel could not secure 3-0 and 4-2 leads with the latter lead produced entering the fateful final frame of the game on Saturday night. The Wings rebounded with 4-unanswered third period strikes to sting the Fuel, 6-4. Darian Dziurzynski (1-1-2) FG, Matt Rupert, Mike Neal and Tommy Olczyk delivered for the Fuel with Stephen Collins authoring 2-assists. In the Sunday matinee encore presentation, Indy bounced back with an all-out, stellar effort and performance in subduing the Kalamazooans, 4-2. For a third straight game at the Wings Event Center, the Fuel stun-gunned the Wings with another 3-goals' opening period barrage as Reed Seckel (FG), Mike Neal (TBG/PPG), Matt Rupert (GWG) and Darian Dziurzynski (SHG) were the major marquee men with Ryan Rupert essaying 2-more assists. Matt Tomkins again, was masterful, rebuking 37-shots.
STANDINGS STATUS: As the Fuel move forward onto the second week of their 7-games enemy ice odyssey, they continue to occupy 6th place in the ECHL's Western Conference Central Division standings. Through their first 46-games of the campaign, Indy has assembled a record of 46(21-22-3) totaling 45-points. In search for their first-ever Kelly Cup Playoffs' berth, the Fuel have crept within of 6-points of 5th place Kansas City 50(25-24-1)51 with 4-games in hand on the Mavericks who commence the new week mired in a 5-game losing skid. Indy remains 11-points in arrears of 3rd and 4th place Kalamazoo 48(26-18-4)56 and Cincinnati 47(27-18-2)56. The Fuel have 2-games in hand on the Wings, who are 10(5-5-0) in their last 10-games. Indy has 1-game in hand on the Cyclones who are presently riding the crest of a 5-game win skein. Concerning the rest of the division; 1- Toledo 49(33-12-4)70, undefeated last 9(8-0-1). 2- Fort Wayne 48(32-13-3)67; last 7(6-0-1); last 13(11-1-1). 7- Quad City 47(16-27-4)36.
THE DIVISIONAL DOSSIER: With 46-games down and 26-more to go, the Fuel's margin of error has become somewhat minuscule. However, Indy is playing 25 of its remaining 29-games against their own division opposition. The Indy intel index at this very hour of the campaign: 1- Toledo 5(0-5-0); home: 3(0-3-0); road: 2(0-2-0), 4-more games to play; 3-home; 1-road. 2- 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. 3- Kalamazoo 8(5-3-0); home: 2(1-1-0); road: 6(4-2-0); 2-more meetings; 1-home; 1-road. 4- Cincinnati 4(4-0-0); home: 3(3-0-0); road: 1(1-0-0); 6-more dates; home: 3; road: 3. 5- Kansas City 1(0-1-0); home: 1(0-1-0); road: 0(0-0-0); 4-more games remain; 1-home; 3-road. 7- Quad City 8(4-2-2); home: 2(2-0-0); road: 6(2-2-2); 3-more games; all 3 at home. For the Fuel, combining their record against Kalamazoo, Cincinnati and Quad City: 20(13-5-2). Against Toledo, Fort Wayne and Kansas City 12(1-11-0) and 8(0-8-0) on home ice.
ROAD SHOW SOJOURN: Four more for the road for the Fuel for this week. "The Seven Sojourn" continues Wednesday night when the club journeys to Fort Wayne to rekindle combat with their archenemies, the Komets. In their last adventure there, the Fuel achieved a major breakthrough as they extracted their first-ever outright, regulation time triumph in the Memorial Coliseum back on January 6th, 2-1. Following the Fort Wayne feature, the Fuel travelogue calls for their first trek of the season to Kansas City where they will lock anthers with the Mavericks in a two-games' series on Friday and Saturday nights. The KC squad has utterly mastered the Indy team since its introduction to the ECHL, winning 10-consecutive games at the expense of the Fuel including a 6-3 decision back on November 25th in Indy. That has been the only meeting of the two teams thus far this season. Then on Sunday, it's a trip to Tulsa where the Fuel will make their lone appearance of the year to battle the Oilers. The Fuel lead the season series, 2-0, with both victories accrued in Indianapolis.
EDUCATION DAY GAME: For the first time in their ECHL history, the Indy Fuel will play host for their initial EDUCATION DAY GAME on Tuesday, February 20th at 10:30 am at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum against one of their principal adversaries, the Cincinnati Cyclones. As well, the Fuel will be making their first home appearance in 17-days, since February 3rd. Beginning with this game, and following their current 7-games' foreign ice expedition, 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.
MATT THE CAT CONNECTS: Left wing Matt Rupert orchestrated a stout, stellar week of offensive productivity for the hometown team. The erstwhile OHL London Knights standout fired key, touch-in-the-clutch goals in all 3-games over the past weekend. Two of his 3-strikes stoked were GWG, mirroring both of his club's conquests the past weekend. For the week, M. Rupert was 3(3-1-4) +2 with those 2-GWG and 12-SOG. Named the #2 Star in his club's 4-1 victory Friday night in Quad City, M. Rupert was acclaimed the game's #1 Star on Sunday in Kalamazoo where, again, he delivered the GWG in his team's 4-2 verdict. M. Rupert was hailed the #1 Star in this game. Leading the team in GWG with 4, Matt Rupert is the Fuel's nomination for Sher-Wood/ECHL Player of the Week.
MATT'S CAT-REFLEXES: First-year goaltender Matt Tomkins was a more than welcome sight for the Fuel following his extended recall to AHL Rockford. Returning to the Fuel's goal, the former Ohio State star stole the show with his puck-stopping stupendo in leading his team to both of its wins the past weekend. Friday night at Quad City, the parent club Chicago Blackhawks 7th round draft choice of 2012, was named the #1 Star with a brilliant 45-saves masterpiece in the Fuel's 4-1 victory. On Sunday in Kalamazoo, Tomkins rebuffed 37 of 39-shots in his club's 4-2 triumph, earning #3 Star accolades. Currently on his second 3-games' win streak of the season, the Sherwood Park, Alberta product was 2(2-0-0) for the past week, carding a stingy, stellar 1.50 SPCT and .965 SPCT. A previous ECHL Goaltender of the Week, Tomkins is the Fuel's nomination this week for CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
THE OTHER TWIN BROTHER: Center Ryan Rupert is fashioning his best Fuel hockey for the season. The past weekend, the other twin, maestroed a masterful week, composing a 3-games' points' streak. In his club's 4-1 win Friday night in Moline, he was feted as the game's #3 Star, delivering 3-points on 1-goal, 2-assists. After authoring 1-assist Saturday night in Kalamazoo in the 6-4 setback, Ryan Rupert seemed to have lightning coming out of his skates in the Sunday win over the Wings as he recorded 2-more assists and +2 rating. For the week; 3(2-4-6) and +2 rating. Ryan Rupert has ascended into a tie for the team scoring leadership with 41(10-23-33).
THE TRIFECTA FUEL FORCE: The Fuel offense demonstrated considerable consistency with its proficiency over the past 3-games in 3-days weekend abroad. No fewer than 5 for the Fuel fashioned 3-games' point streaks; Ryan Rupert 3(2-4-6) +2; Matt Rupert 3(3-1-4) +2; Darian Dziurzynski 3(2-2-4) +2; Josh Shalla 3(1-3-4) +2; Mike Neal 3(2-1-3) +1.
TOP TROUBADORS: As the Fuel commence their second week of this major 7-games alien ice mission, their scoring laureates are in this order; 1- Ryan Rupert 41(10-23-33); 2- Mike Neal 40(15-18-33); 3- Cam Reid 41(9-20-29); 4- Darian Dziurzynski 39(14-13-27); 5- Matt Rupert 45(11-14-25); 6- Johnny McInnis 38(12-10-22); 7- Alex Wideman 32(9-13-22); 8- Josh Shalla 16(11-8-19); 9- Robin Press 27(5-12-17); 10- Nolan Descoteaux 39(1-15-16); 11- Stephen Collins 25(3-12-15); 12- Reed Seckel 44(5-9-14); 13- Tommy Olczyk 39(10-3-13); 14- Brandon Anselmini 18(2-10-12); 15- Zach Miskovic 46(5-6-11)
POWER PLAY PANACHE: The power play of the Fuel has skyrocketed meteorically to circuit second, operating at 20.7%; 36-173. In recent action the power play prowess has been duly noticed. It is 4 for the last 10; 40%. Furthermore, it is 8-32; 25%; 12-43; 28%; 19-73; 26%. The Fuel's 36-PPG are 8-more PPG than all last season. PPG leaders; Ryan Rupert (5); Mike Neal (4); Darian Dzuirzynski (3); Matt Rupert (3); Alex Wideman (3); Johnny McInnis (3); Robin Press (3). In the penalty killing category, the Fuel continue to respond and answer the call. Ranked 9th in the league, operating at 83.5% as the opponents are 31-192. Indy has been especially dangerous in shorthanded situations, scoring 11-SHG which rank as second most in the league; Ryan Rupert (3); Tommy Olczyk (3); Nathan Noel (2); Matt Rupert (1); Brandon Anselmini (1); Darian Dziurzynski (1) have been the shorthanded bandits.
ON THE MILESTONES MENU: Zach Miskovic (94) is 6-assists shy of the career 100. Miskovic is the lone Fuel player to play in all of his club's 46-games this season. Darian Dziurzynski (94) is 6-goals away from pro career 100. Ryan Rupert (242) is 8-games away from 250. Cam Reid (347) is 3-games from 350 and (195) 5-PIM from 200. Garrett Clarke (1,065) is closing in on 1,100-PIM for his pro career.
FUEL FACTS: Since December 1st, the Fuel have posted a record that is 4-games over the .500 mark at 30(17-13-0). They are 17(11-6-0) in the last 17-games against their own Central Division. After starting the season at 12(1-8-3) in foreign ice warfare, the Fuel are 13(9-4-0) in their last 13-excursions abroad. Since the arrival of Darian Dzuirzynski, the Fuel are 21(13-8-0). Indy's 21-total wins are 2-shy of last season's output of 23. With their 4-2 triumph Sunday in Kalamazoo, the Fuel have equaled their entire total of road wins from last season of 10. They are 2-home wins away (11) from duplicating last year's output of 13 home wins. The Fuel continue to flourish in Kalamazoo where they are 6(4-2-0) this year and 7(5-2-0) in their last 7- games there dating back to last season. Four of Kalamazoo's 7-home losses this season have been inflicted by the Fuel. Indy has unleashed a 3-goals' first period attack in each of its last 3-games in Kalamazoo, outscoring the Wings in that span, 9-2. Of the Fuel's 11-SHG, second most in the league, 5 of those SHG have been struck against Kalamazoo. Indy's 20-SOG in the first period Sunday in Kalamazoo represented its most SOG for one period this season. The Fuel are 15(13-2-0) when they score 4 or more, having scored 4-GF in each of their 3-games in 3-days on the road the past weekend. Indy is 16(14-1-1) entering the third period with the lead.
THE FUEL / THE FAN: This week's Indy Fuel radio broadcast schedule on WFNI-AM 1070thefan.com lists four more road games in 5-days. It begins Wednesday night from Fort Wayne, the Fuel battle the Komets with the game broadcast to start at 7:00 pm. Friday and Saturday nights, the originations will come from Kansas City for the Fuel and the Mavericks with broadcast time both nights set for 7:30 pm. Sunday, it's the Fuel at Tulsa with air time set for 4:30 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 1070 The Fan.
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