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2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs

ECHL Central Division Semifinal Preview: Toledo Walleye vs. Indy Fuel

ECHL Central Division Semifinal Preview: Toledo Walleye vs. Indy Fuel

TOLEDO, Ohio – Friday night will begin a rematch of the 2018 division semifinals, as the Indy Fuel return to the Kelly Cup Playoffs to tangle with the Toledo Walleye. Indy will have quite the tall task ahead of them, only holding one playoff victory to their history staring into the eyes of an opponent who’s made the final round twice in the last four seasons. Despite all this, the Fuel have enjoyed their best season to date, setting new franchise records in both wins and points this season while also sitting at the top of the Central Division for a good portion of the year. Toledo, on the other hand, sputtered out of the gate but caught fire late in the season, using a 20-game point streak to propel themselves to a second-place finish in the division standings.

Toledo’s offensive attack was led by Brandon Hawkins (39 goals, 80 points) and Gordie Green (27 goals, 71 points), who each had career seasons. Between the pipes, the Walleye enjoyed one of the best goaltending tandems in the league with John Lethemon (1.99 GAA, .930 SV%) and Sebastian Cossa (2.56 GAA, .913 SV%).

In his return to Indy, Alex Wideman led the way for the Fuel (22 goals, 72 points), with Chad Yetman (26 goals, 59 points) and Cameron Hillis (14 goals, 50 points) also being major contributors to the Fuel attack. Zach Driscoll (3.03 GAA, .899 SV%) and Mitchell Weeks (2.35 GAA, .916 SV%) shared the crease for most of the season for Indy.

Final Regular Season Records

Toledo: 45-19-5-3, 98 points (3rd in Western Conference, 3rd in ECHL)
Indy: 43-24-5-0, 91 points (4th in Western Conference, 7th in ECHL)

Series Schedule

Game 1 – Friday, April 21 – Indy at TOLEDO – 7:15 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, April 22 – Indy at TOLEDO – 7:15 pm ET
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 25 – Toledo at INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Game 4 – Thursday, April 27 – Toledo at INDY – 7:05 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, April 29 – Toledo at INDY – 7:05 pm ET
*Game 6 – Monday, May 1 – Indy at TOLEDO – 7:15 pm ET
*Game 7 – Tuesday, May 2 – Indy at TOLEDO – 7:15 pm ET
*If Necessary

Season Series Recap:

Toledo controlled the season series, winning five of the six meetings, with their only loss coming back in November. Hawkins led the way for the Walleye, scoring four goals and eleven points in five appearances. Goaltender Cossa went 4-1-0 in five contests for the Walleye. As for Indy, Driscoll manned the net in all six games, going 1-4-1. Wideman (two goals, five points) and Andrew Bellant (three goals, three points) were the top scorers for the Fuel.

How Toledo Wins:

One area that Toledo thrives in is special teams, as the Walleye rank first in both overall power play and penalty kill statistics. To add to that, the Fuel have the eighth-most penalty minutes in the league, so if Toledo can make Indy pay for their mistakes, it will be a long series for the Fuel. The Walleye have shown that they match up well against Indy, and as long as their offense continues to click, they should be in good shape.

How Indy Wins:

Indy will have to find a way to beat the talented Toledo goaltending duo. In three of the six regular season contests against the Walleye, the Fuel only scored one goal. Another key for the Fuel will be weathering the storm in the opening minutes of the games. This season, Indy has struggled finding the back of the net in the first, and their opponent has had tremendous success in the opening period, scoring the fourth-most goals. If Indy can get out to an early lead in the games, that will give them their best chance at pulling the upset in the series.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Josh Neireiter covers the Indy Fuel for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHFuel.

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