CINCINNATI - Three straight tallies from Winston Day Chief helped the Cincinnati Cyclones (31-20-2-0) rally to a 4-3 victory over the Indy Fuel (27-26-2-1) Friday night at U.S. Bank Arena. The setback snapped the Fuel's five-game winning streak against their neighboring rival comes to an end, keeping Indy two points back from the Kalamazoo Wings and the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL's Central Division.
Day Chief's natural hat trick led a string of four unanswered goals for the Cyclones, who erased an early Indy lead en route to picking up their third straight victory on home ice. After the Fuel built a 2-0 advantage in the first period, Cincinnati responded with a pair of strikes in each of the latter two frames to complete the comeback effort.
Forward Josh Shalla factored on all three of Indy's goals, finishing with a goal and two assists, while February's ECHL Player of the Month Robin Press extended his franchise-record point streak to 10 games with a pair of helpers.
The Fuel seized early control of Friday's contest, outshooting Cincinnati by a 21-8 margin through the first 20 minutes of play. Shalla helped the Fuel get on the board just 97 seconds following the opening draw, when his shot from the top of the circle was deflected past Cyclones goaltender Jonas Johansson by Darian Dziurzynski. Indy's top-ranked power play doubled the lead at 12:19 of the first, when Michael Neal corralled a Shalla rebound and tucked it inside the left post.
Cincinnati began to fight back in the second, cutting the lead in half at 5:28 when Day Chief picked up his own rebound in the slot, flicking a second-chance opportunity over the glove of Fuel netminder Matt Tomkins. Day Chief tied the contest later in the middle frame, picking up an errant shot attempt from Brandon McNally off the end boards and beating Tomkins at 12:17.
The Cyclones forward completed his second three-goal performance of the season at the midway point of the third, lifting the home team to their first lead of the evening. A late power play goal from Justin Vaive gave Cincinnati some breathing room, which proved to be necessary after Indy staged a late rally of their own. With Tomkins on the bench for an extra attacker, Shalla got a piece of Garrett Clarke's point shot to bring the Fuel back to within one with 1:41 left on the clock. Indy generated a few scoring chances in the final minute, but could not find the equalizer.
Johansson picked up his fourth straight win with a 33 save performance, while Tomkins suffered the loss for Indy, stopping 26 of 30 shots.
Both teams finished 1-for-3 on the power play. The Fuel have now tallied at least one goal with the extra man in six consecutive games.
Indy will look to break a two game skid Saturday on home ice, as it opens a two-game set with the Utah Grizzlies at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Puck drop for the first leg of the doubleheader is set for 7:35 p.m. ET.
Single game tickets are now available for the entire 2017-18 Fuel season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Fans can also take advantage of a wide variety of ticket plans by calling 317-925-FUEL or visiting IndyFuelHockey.com. Don't miss a second of the action during the 2017-18 season - follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
-- INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM --