FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL VS. CYCLONES
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28 - 7:35 P.M.
INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM, INDIANAPOLIS
TICKETS: TICKETMASTER, INDIANA FARMERS COLISEUM BOX OFFICE
BROADCAST INFO: INDYFUELHOCKEY.COM, ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: After taking down one of the hottest teams in the ECHL on Thursday, the Indy Fuel (15-13-0-0) face an even tougher challenge Friday night as the league-leading Cincinnati Cyclones (20-5-2-2) visit the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Central Division rivalry game falls on a Do317 Night in the Circle City, as fans can enjoy $3 beers and soft drinks, $1 hot dogs and $7 limited edition t-shirts.
Cincinnati sits atop the ultra-competitive Central Division - and the rest of the ECHL - with 44 points in 29 games. The Cyclones enter Friday's action on a 10-game unbeaten streak (8-0-0-2), and have picked up points in 15 of their last 17 outings since Nov. 13 (13-2-0-2).
Meanwhile, the Fuel have started to hit their stride after hovering around the .500 mark for much of the last two months. Indy is 5-2-0-0 over its last seven games, sitting just two points back from the Wheeling Nailers for a share of third place in the Central Division.
Friday marks the fifth of 12 meetings between the Fuel and Cyclones this season, as well as the fourth of eight taking place at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The rivals have split the first four encounters, with Indy coming out on top in two of its three games on home ice. Goaltender Jonas Johansson stopped 32 shots to blank the Fuel by a 3-0 tally in the last meeting between the two clubs.
LAST TIME OUT: The Fuel started their weekend tripleheader by handing the Wheeling Nailers their first regulation loss in 10 games in a 5-2 decision at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Kevin Dufour continued his offensive production with two goals, while Olivier Labelle (1g, 1a), Alex Brooks (1g, 1a) and Neil Manning (2a) each chipped in a pair of points. Labelle, Brooks and Dufour combined to help give Indy a 3-1 lead after one period, which they extended with two more goals in the third. Goaltender Matt Tomkins was strong between the pipes for the Fuel, turning aside 33 of 35 Nailers shots.
DUFOUR SCORE: In picking up his team-leading 15th and 16th goals of the season in Friday's win, Kevin Dufour registered his third consecutive two-goal game. The second-year forward has found the net seven times in his last four games, and has picked up a total of 13 points (9g, 4a) over a 10 game stretch since the beginning of December. Dufour leads all Fuel skaters with 26 points in 26 games played on the season (16g, 10a).
QUICK OUT OF THE GATES: Indy's offense has come alive over the past three weeks, in large part due to the club's strong play off the starting line. In four games since Dec. 15, the Fuel have scored 11 goals in the first period - putting up three in the opening frame in each of their last three outings. Indy has fared well this season with an early lead, entering Friday's game with a 6-1-0-0 record in games where they have been ahead at the start of the second period.
OTHER NOTABLES: Kevin Dufour has accounted for the game-winning goal in each of Indy's last three victories ... Olivier Labelle is riding a five game point streak (3g, 6a), and has tallied multiple points in three straight outings ... Defenseman Neil Manning has seven assists over his last six games ... Missing Thursday's game with an injury sustained in Kalamazoo last Saturday, defenseman Zach Miskovic was out of the Fuel lineup for the first time since March 26, 2017, ending a streak of 109 straight games played (regular season and playoffs).
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