FANIMATION GAME PREVIEW: FUEL AT CYCLONES
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 - 7:35 P.M.
U.S. BANK ARENA, CINCINNATI
BROADCAST INFO: ECHL.TV
THE MATCHUP: The Indy Fuel (23-23-2-1) look to get back in the win column Wednesday night as they visit the U.S. Bank Arena to take on the Central Division-leading Cincinnati Cyclones (32-9-3-3). The midweek clash between Indy and Cincinnati is scheduled for a 7:35 p.m. puck drop from the Queen City, with live coverage available through ECHL.TV.
The Fuel make the short trip up I-74 looking to snap a season-long four-game losing streak, after finishing a busy Week 18 slate empty handed. Indy dropped both halves of a home-and-home set with the red-hot Kalamazoo Wings, before coming up short in a pair of contests against the Toledo Walleye over the weekend at Huntington Center.
With the recent skid, Indy (49 points) has dropped from third to fifth in the Central Division standings, where they hold a one-point edge over the sixth-place Wheeling Nailers. Heading into Wednesday's action, the Fuel sit two points behind the Kalamazoo Wings for a share of fourth place in the Central, while the third-seeded Fort Wayne Komets hold a three-point edge over Indy.
In order to get back in the win column, the Fuel have to do what only one other team has done this season - beat the Western Conference leaders on their home ice. Winners of nine of their last 11 games since Jan. 5, the Cyclones boast a dominant record of 17-1-2-2 at U.S. Bank Arena this season. Cincinnati returns to U.S. Bank Arena after a four-game swing through the east coast last week, finishing with a 3-1-0-0 record.
The Cyclones started the trip with a 2-1 overtime win in Wheeling on Tuesday, before blasting the Maine Mariners Friday night by a score of 8-1. A late go-ahead goal helped the Manchester Monarchs edge Cincinnati 4-3 on Saturday, before the Cyclones wrapped up the road trip with a 4-3 overtime win over the Worcester Railers.
Indy has fared well against their neighboring rivals this season, skating to a 3-3-0-1 record through seven games. Wednesday marks the third of only four trips the Fuel make to U.S. Bank Arena in 2018-19, with the Cyclones picking up victories in each of the two prior meetings in Ohio. In the last encounter between the two teams on Jan. 20, Cincinnati built an early 2-0 lead before hanging on for a 4-2 triumph.
LAST TIME OUT: The Walleye tallied goals in each period to finish a two-game sweep of Indy with a 4-1 victory Sunday at Huntington Center. Toledo built a 3-0 lead with goals from TJ Hensick, Charlie O'Connor, and Dylan Sadowy before the Fuel finally got on the board halfway through the period with an unassisted tally from Matheson Iacopelli. Goaltender Matt Tomkins suffered the loss in net, turning aside 31 of 34 Walleye shots.
ROUGH TIMES ON THE ROAD: With two losses last weekend in Toledo, Indy is still hunting for its first points of a season-long five-game swing away from Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Following Wednesday's stop in Cincinnati, the Fuel will head to Wichita for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Thunder at INTRUST Bank Arena, before the two teams switch to Indianapolis for Indy's Education Day Game next Tuesday. The road has not been a kind place for the Fuel as of late, with the club dropping five of their last six games as the visitor.
BEEN HERE BEFORE: In a peculiar turn of events, Indy's record of 23-23-2-1 through 49 games happens to be identical to the team's mark at this point of the season in 2017-18. Last year, the Fuel finished the compaign with a 13-7-3-0 mark over their final 23 games en route to earning the club's first-ever berth in the ECHL's Kelly Cup Playoffs. Another comparison worth making: at this point in 2017-18, the Fuel found themselves seven points out of fourth place in the Central. As of Wednesday, Indy is just two points out of playoff positioning.
OTHER NOTABLES: Indy scored at least one power play goal in three of its four games last week, operating at a 5-for-11 clip during that span (45.4%) ... The Fuel rank in the ECHL's top 10 in both power play (T-7th, 19.1%) and penalty kill (2nd, 86.4%) ... Cyclones forward Jesse Schultz leads the season series with Indy with nine points (1g, 8a) in seven games ... Cincinnati goaltender Michael Houser leads the league with a 2.00 goals against average, while his .929 save percentage is tied for the ECHL lead.
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