Time for the penultimate weekly preview for the Indy Fuel’s regular season. Two weeks – and seven games – remain in the Fuel’s inaugural season. A year that started with a 6-21-6 record has been followed by an amazing run that has seen Indy on the cusp of playoff position. This week is critical, with a four-point game against Cincinnati, two games against the division’s top two teams, and four games in five nights – three at home.
Current record: 27-29-9, 6th ECHL North (2 points back of 5th-place Cincinnati, 5 back of 4th-place Wheeling, 8 back of 3rd-place Kalamazoo)
Last week: Last week, the Fuel put an exclamation point on a run with a 3-2 win over the South Carolina Stingrays, breaking the longest winning streak in ECHL history at 23 games. The Fuel also had a dominant effort on Friday against Reading, but ultimately fell 3-2 thanks to an incredible goaltending performance from Frankie Ouellette, who made 40 saves. … Garett Bembridge (G/A), Justin Holl (G/A) and Mike Duco (2A) all had two-point games against South Carolina, while Chris DeSousa tallied the other goal. Bembridge had two goals and an assist over the weekend. He, Holl and Duco were the lone multi-point scorers. Peter Schneider played Friday and tallied his second goal and third point in three games. Shane Owen stopped 20 of 23 shots against Reading on Friday, Mac Carruth stopped 35 of 37 to win Saturday’s game.
Fuel bits: Garett Bembridge continues to add to his team-high scoring pace with his 27th goal. He now has 27-28-55 in 62 games, including 25-24-49 in 55 games with the Fuel. He became the first person to score 25 in a Fuel sweater when he roofed the game-winner Saturday night. Kyle Stroh (21-21-42, 14-14-28 in 33 games with the Fuel) is the other 20-goal scorer. His eight game-winning goals remains tied for the ECHL lead … Nick Bruneteau began wearing the alternate captain’s “A” on Friday, and extended his assists mark with a helper in the loss to Reading. With a 3-33-36 line, Bruneteau is 15th in the ECHL in defenseman points, and also ranks in the top 10 for assists. … Mike Duco (16-16-32), Rhett Bly (11-19-30) and Justin Holl (6-24-30) all hit or surpassed the 30-point mark last week. … G Mac Carruth stopped his second penalty shot of the year on Saturday and is now 2-2. Carruth ranks 12th among ECHL goaltenders in GAA (15-13-5, 2.59). Shane Owen is 7-5-2, 2.34 with the Fuel. … The Fuel rank 20th of 28 teams in penalty minutes (14.83/game). … The 18 overtime games plyaed by the Fuel remain the most in the league. Indy is 9-9 in OT/SO, going 5-4 in OT and 4-5 in SO. … Indy ranks fourth in the ECHL on the PP (20.4), scoring a PPG in each game last week, and 15th on the PK (82.6). … The Fuel are pretty good when leading after two, going 18-1-4 when entering the third with a lead.
This week’s games
Wednesday: vs. Toledo Walleye (45-14-6), 7:05 p.m., Indiana Farmers Coliseum. TV: HTSN-6.2, Radio: WXNT-1430
Season series: Fuel trail 0-3-1
It’s the Walleye’s third visit to Indy – Toledo outscored the Fuel 12-1 in the two previous meetings, but both were before the early-January roster makeover. Since, the teams have played two close games in Toledo, with the Walleye winning the most recent, 4-3 in a shootout on March 14 That touched off an eight-wins-in-nine-games stretch the Walleye are currently on. … Rookie Tyler Barnes (27-38-65) is 13th in the league in scoring, and first among rookies. He’s also third among rookies in goals and second in assists. Old friend Shane Berschbach (15-38-53) is fifth among rookies in scoring, and first in assists and PPG (9) among rookies. … Jeff Lerg is fourth in the league in GAA (29-8-2, 2.32) and tied for second with four shutouts. His 29 wins are also second in the ECHL. … Toledo is the league’s least-penalized team (10.31 PIM/game) by far – nearly 3 PIM/game less than the closest team. … If the game goes beyond 60 minutes, Toledo is the league’s best shootout team at 8-2. The Walleye are just 1-4 in OT, however. … Toledo is good with the short change – the Walleye are second in the ECHL in both first (+34) and third (+27) period goal differential. They’re third-best in the second (+24). Not surprisingly, the Walleye are second in the league in goals scored (3.88) and allowed (2.52) and lead the ECHL in goal differential (+1.36) … Toledo has the league’s best PP (24.9) and PK (88.1). … Toledo enters Indy having won three straight road games. … Toledo plays Cincinnati on Tuesday before meeting the Fuel. Toledo is the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
Friday: at Cincinnati Cyclones (28-29-9), 7:35 p.m., U.S. Bank Arena. Radio: WXNT-1430
Season series: Fuel trail 3-4-1
This is the final meeting between the two teams in a series that has featured a number of close games. It’s just the third meeting at U.S. Bank Arena, with the Fuel and Cyclones splitting the previous two. It’s also a critical game for both teams in the playoff race. … The Cyclones recently added Jack Combs, who is fourth in the league in scoring with 31-43-74 in just 45 games, most of that with Allen. He has also been in Europe and Stockton this season before joining the Cyclones last week and scoring a hat trick Friday night. Josh Shalla (17-25-42) and Jack Downing (18-22-40) are the Cyclones’ other top scorers. … Goaltender Sam Brittain, who has a 2.71 GAA and has been stellar in two matchups against the Fuel, is currently with AHL San Antonio. Currently, Rob Madore (13-18-8, 2.75) and former Fuel goaltender Sean Bonar (1-3-0, 4.28) are the Cyclones’ goaltenders. … Cincinnati doesn’t spend much time in the box, as its 13.67 PIM/game ranking is fourth-lowest in the ECHL. … The Cyclones rank 26th on the PP (14.8) and 25th on the PK (79.8). … Cincy has a minus-20 third period goal differential, third-worst in the league. … Fort Wayne is fifth in the league in scoring (3.56) and sixth in goals allowed (2.80), a +.76 differential. … … The Cyclones have kept pace in the playoff race in part by collecting overtime points, as they are 2-6-5 in their last 13 games, and went 1-1-2 last week. Cincinnati hosts Toledo on Tuesday before meeting the Fuel. … Cincinnati is the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.
Saturday: vs. Fort Wayne Komets (44-16-6), 7:35 p.m., Indiana Farmers Coliseum. TV: HTSN-6.2. Radio: WXNT-1430
Season series: Fuel trail 2-6-2
The final meeting in the resumption of the Indy-Fort Wayne rivalry that has been off-and-on since 1955, the Fuel and Komets do battle with Indy looking for its first home win against Fort Wayne. The Fuel won the last two games in the Fort Feb. 27-28, but dropped a 4-1 decision to the Komets March 18 at the Coliseum, a game that was 2-1 until the late stages. … Shawn Szydlowski (35-34-69 in 51 games) is the league’s eighth-leading scorer and ranks fifth in goals. He’s also second in the league with four shorthanded goals, and leads the league with four shorthanded assists and eight shorthanded points. Mike Embach (23-43-66) is 10th in scoring. Eric Faille is second in the ECHL (and first among rookies) with six shorthanded points, and eighth among rookies with 48 points (24-24-48 in 39 games). Faille has a whopping 24.2% shooting percentage, second among ECHL rookies. He leads league rookies in +/- (+32), and has the league’s longest active goal streak at four games. … Matthew Pistilli (21-35-56) is the Komets’ other 20-goal scorer. … Defenseman Drew Daniels (+46) leads the league in +/-, while teammate Joey Leach (+36) is fourth. Daniels also is eighth among defensemen in points (4-38-42) and third among D-men in assists. … Pat Nagle ranks fifth in the league in GAA (23-6-2, 2.36), while Roman Will ranks 11th (13-7-4, 2.55). … Fort Wayne is 22nd in the ECHL in penalty minutes (14.56/game). … Fort Wayne ranks sixth on the PP (20.0) and 23rd on the PK (80.5). Fort Wayne is also second in the ECHL with 12 shorthanded goals. … The Komets have lived on winning close games – they are 21-6-6 in one-goal contests. … The Komets have won four of their last five games and six of eight. … Fort Wayne is the ECHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.
Sunday: vs. Elmira Jackals (31-28-7), 3:05 p.m., Indiana Farmers Coliseum. TV: HTSN-6.2. Radio: WXNT-1430
Season series: Fuel lead 2-0-1
The last time these teams met in Indy, the Fuel won a 3-0 shutout despite Elmira holding a shots advantage. The teams recently split a weekend in Elmira Feb. 20-21, with the Fuel winning 5-2 in the second half after losing 2-1 in a shootout the night before. … Sam Marotta (11-19-1, 2.65) ranks 17th and Travis Fullerton (19-9-6, 2.68) 18th in the ECHL in GAA. … Steven Shamanski (14-21-35) ranks 19th among ECHL defensemen in points and third in goals. … Mike Seidel (21-18-39) leads the Jackals in scoring, followed by Taylor Stefiishen (15-23-38) and Ryan Rashid (14-24-38). … Elmira is one of the league’s most-penalized teams, with 20.20 PIM/game. The Jackals rank fourth in the league in major penalties drawn, led by Justin Sawyer (16 majors, 162 PIM). … If the game goes beyond 60 minutes, the Jackals want to end it in OT – Elmira is 5-0 in OT, but just 2-7 in the shootout. … Elmira ranks 12th on the PP (17.5) and 24th on the PK (79.9). … Elmira has not lost in regulation when leading after two, going 21-0-2 in those stretches. … The Jackals lost all three games last week at home, and are 1-4-1 in their last six games, all at home. Elmira is the ECHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.
Looking ahead: The Fuel close the regular season next week with a home game April 8 against Kalamazoo, then an April 10-11 trip to Reading.
Roster moves: The Fuel have added three new defensemen, receiving Kirill Gotovets from Rockford, and signing former college D Doug Jessey (Canisius) and Andy Simpson (Dartmouth). They also released Garrett Klotz and Dan Ford to make room on the roster.
7 Peter Schneider (5-11, 185, Vienna, Austria). Age: 23. Shoots: R. Last team: Notre Dame (NCAA) (Fuel)
9 Rhett Bly (5-10, 185, Regina, Sask.). Age: 25. Shoots: L. Last team: Merrimack (NCAA) (Fuel)
11 Kyle Stroh (6-1, 185, Vibank, Sask.). Age: 26. Shoots: R. Last team: Rapid City Rush (ECHL) (Fuel)
12 Evan Vossen (6-0, 196, Swift Current, Sask.). Age: 28. Shoots: L. Last team: Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) (Fuel)
*14 (C) Mike Duco (5-10, 200, Toronto, Ont.). Age: 27. Shoots: R. Last team: Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL) (Fuel)
16 Pete Massar (5-9, 180, Williston, Vt.). Age: 25. Shoots: R. Last team: Missouri Mavericks (CHL) (Fuel)
18 Jamie Wise (6-0, 205, Stouffville, Ont.). Age: 23. Shoots: L. Last team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL) (Rockford)
*19 Nicklas Lindberg (5-11, 190, Stockholm, Sweden). Age: 34. Shoots: L. Last team: St. Charles Chill (CHL) (Fuel)
20 Matt White (6-2, 198, McMurray, Pa.). Age: 23. Shoots: L. Last team: Vermont (NCAA) (Fuel)
28 Chris DeSousa (5-9, 190, Mississauga, Ont.). Age: 24. Shoots: L. Last team: Univ. of Prince Edward Island (CIS) (Fuel)
*41 (A) Garett Bembridge (6-0, 180, Saskatoon, Sask.). Age: 33. Shoots: R. Last team: Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) (Fuel)
2 Anders Franzon (6-3, 196, Plattsburgh, NY). Age: 26. Shoots: R. Last team: Missouri Mavericks (CHL) (Fuel)
4 (A) Nick Bruneteau (5-10, 182, Omaha, Neb.). Age: 22. Shoots: R. Last team: Reading Royals (ECHL) (Fuel)
5 Nick Jones (6-2, 200, Cranberry, Pa.). Age: 24. Shoots: R. Last team: Worcester Sharks (AHL) (Worcester)
15 Saverio Posa (5-10, 176, Grand Blanc, Mich.). Age: 22. Shoots: L. Last team: University of Windsor (CIS) (Fuel)
24 Kirill Gotovets (5-11, 194, Minsk, Belarus). Age: 23. Shoots: L. Last team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL) (Rockford)
25 Justin Holl (6-3, 195, Tonka Bay, Minn.). Age: 23. Shoots: R. Last team: Minnesota (NCAA) (Rockford)
27 Doug Jessey (6-2, 212, Langdon, Alb.). Age: 23. Shoots: R. Last team: Canisius (NCAA) (Fuel)
35 Mac Carruth (6-2, 160, Jackson, Wyo.). Age: 22. Catches: L. Last team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL) (Blackhawks)
50 Shane Owen (6-2, 195, Markham, Ont.). Age: 24. Catches: L. Last team: Stockton Thunder (ECHL) (Fuel)
6 Andy Simpson (5-10, 192, St. Louis, Mo.). Age: 24. Shoots: R. Last team: Dartmouth (NCAA) (Fuel)
21 Johnny McGuire (6-1, 205, Peterborough, Ont.). Age: 21. Shoots: R. Last team: Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) (Fuel)
21-day IR (1)
57 Jonathan Parker (5-10, 195, Solana Beach, Calif.). Age: 23. Shoots: R. Last team: Colorado Eagles (ECHL) (Fuel)
In AHL: Dillon Fournier (Rockford)