GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: 1070THEFAN.COM, ECHL.TV
The Story: The Indy Fuel (8-14-2-1) look to head into the ECHL's holiday break with a win Saturday as they welcome the Cincinnati Cyclones to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for the first time this season.
Santa Claus is taking a break from his holiday preparations to visit with fans before and during the game. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office.
Winless in three games, the Fuel are looking to end a three-game homestand on a high note after suffering a pair of tough losses in their own building. Indy's latest setback came Wednesday as the visiting Kalamazoo Wings escaped with a 2-1 victory. After falling into a 2-0 hole to start the second period, the Fuel controlled much of the latter half of the contest - though 37 saves from Wings goaltender Michael Garteig diffused Indy's comeback effort.
With 19 points, the Fuel maintain sixth place in the Central Division standings, one point ahead of the Quad City Mallards. Looking up the table, Indy sits 10 points back of both the Kansas City Mavericks and Kalamazoo Wings, who are tied for the fourth seed.
Back in the Central Division picture after a one-year hiatus, the Cyclones have had a strong - yet at times, streaky - start to their 2017-18 campaign. Cincinnati responded to a four-game skid in early December by winning four straight heading into Saturday's showdown, including three consecutive victories over the Quad City Mallards.
The new affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres is now just four points off the pace of the Central-leading Toledo Walleye, and just one point back of the Fort Wayne Komets for second place.
Re-Marcoux-able: Authoring another strong performance Wednesday for the Fuel was goaltender Étienne Marcoux. The rookie turned aside 43 shots in the loss; already the fifth game this season where he recorded over 35 saves. Marcoux leads the entire ECHL with a .941 save percentage, while his 2.28 ranks fifth.
Just Call Him Darian: The Fuel have made a couple of roster moves this week - acquiring forward Darian Dziurzynski from the Rapid City Rush on Tuesday night, while shipping Nick Bligh to the Wichita Thunder Thursday in exchange for future considerations. Dziurzynski, a sixth-year pro with over 180 games of AHL experience, is expected to make his Fuel debut Saturday against Cincinnati. In 18 games this season with Rapid City and Toledo, Dziurzynski has one goal, four assists and 54 penalty minutes.
Heading Into The Break: Saturday is Indy's final game before the ECHL's holiday break, with the club reconvening with a pair of post-Christmas road games in Toledo next Wednesday and in Kalamazoo on Thursday. Following tonight's matchup, only one home game remains on the Fuel's December schedule - a rematch with the Cyclones next Saturday.
Inside the Matchup: The Fuel and Cyclones open their 2017-18 season series Saturday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Six of the 10 meetings on the schedule between the two rivals will take place in Indianapolis, including each of the first three. Indy does not make the short trek to U.S. Bank Arena until January 26.
The all-time series between Indy and Cincinnati has been tight, with the Cyclones holding a 17-15 edge through 32 total meetings. The Fuel skated to a 5-7-0-0 record against Cincinnati last season, winning four of the six encounters in the Circle City. Indy holds a 7-4-0-0 record all-time against the Cyclones on home ice.
Scouting Report: Cincinnati enters Saturday with a 9-3-1 record against Central Division opponents, winning each of their last six divisional matchups ... Forward Justin Danforth (16g, 17a) has points in 13 of his last 14 games, racking up 22 points (10g, 12a) over the same span. Danforth leads all ECHL rookies in both point scoring (33) and goals (16) ... Forward Jesse Schultz (11g, 20a) has registered a point in 11 straight games, the longest active streak in the ECHL.
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