INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel announced Tuesday that Head Coach and VP of Hockey Operations Bernie John will be returning as Head Coach of the Indy Fuel for the 2017-18 season.
In his first full season as head coach, Bernie’s season didn’t go as planned. Throughout the 2016-17 season, the Fuel roster saw 60 different players, 37 forwards, 20 defensemen and three goalies. John coached the Fuel to a 23-42-3-4 record, the worst record in franchise history. 14 of those 42 losses came during a month-long winless streak spanning from November 25th and December 28th.
John has been a part of the Fuel coaching staff since the team’s inception. During his first two seasons with the team, John served as an assistant coach behind Scott Hillman. The previous two teams coached by Hillman finished with records of 32-36-4-0 in 2015-16 and 31-30-4-7 in 2014-15.
John will look to coach the Fuel to their first ever playoff berth in 2017-18. The Sudbury, Ontario native coached the Fuel to an 8-5-0-2 record the last 15 games, although one of the losses was a 10-0 loss to the Toledo Walleye.
“I am excited to have Coach John leading our club into the offseason, and I have the utmost confidence that the Fuel are ready to take the next step as a franchise under his direction,” said Fuel Chairman Jim Hallett in the team release. “With a full season under his belt as a head coach in this league, Bernie will have the benefit of experience along with his familiarity of our organization. While there were no doubt difficult times this past season, the way this team played over the last month assures me that we are heading in the right direction.”
As well as signing John to an extension, the team announced that they will begin a search for a full-time assistant coach.
“Heading into next season, I am fully committed to bringing a winning program on the ice. We owe it to our fans to be in the middle of a run to the Kelly Cup this time next spring,” Hallett continued in the release. “We will be looking for someone with a winning pedigree and professional experience at a high level to come in and help Bernie with the various day-to-day difficulties of coaching a team at this level, specifically with special teams, scouting and game film breakdown.”
The move to keep John as the Head Coach doesn’t come as much of a surprise after his final 15 games of the season. He brought a solid core in at the end of the year. Players like Alex Wideman, Josh Shalla, Michael Neal, and Captain Zach Miskovic pushed the team to a respectable finish.
The Fuel must submit their list of protected players to the ECHL on June 1st. Teams are permitted to start signing players for the 2017-18 ECHL season on June 16, 2017.
The Sin Bin will have you covered for all Fuel news during this offseason.