INDIANAPOLIS – The offseason continues in the ECHL and signings are beginning to roll in. Indy Fuel Head Coach Bernie John is bringing back some solid players from last season as well as a few new faces.
Offensive production wasn’t a problem for the Fuel last season but protecting the net and the defensive zone was. Goaltenders Jake Hildebrand and Eric Levine saw upwards of 40 shots per game last season. Because of that, John has been looking for strong two-way players.
The Fuel have focused on adding offense first so far but have added solid two-way players who can produce and protect the defensive end.
Matt Rupert will make a return to the Fuel roster this season and he will be bringing his twin brother Ryan with him from Wichita and Binghamton. Both players are former OHL London Knights, helping them to three consecutive Memorial Cup appearances from 2012-2014.
Matt was the only player to suit up in all 72 games for the Fuel last season tallying 37 points (21g and 16a), good for third among Fuel players in 2016-17. Matt brings a solid end-to-end game to the Fuel along with being able to play both sides of the ice.
Ryan comes to the Fuel from the Wichita Thunder where he split time with the Thunder and their AHL affiliate Binghamton Senators. In 33 games with the Senators, Ryan earned three goals and three assists. When playing for the Thunder, his offensive numbers flourished. In 29 games with Wichita, the 5’8” forward picked up 9 goals 12 assists. Ryan plays a very similar game to his brother, Matt. Ryan will play an end-to-end game as well as being able to feed players from all angles.
Nick Bligh will also be making a return to the Fuel after finishing second on the team in scoring among Fuel rookies in 2016-17 with 15 goals and 13 assists in 41 games for the Fuel. Bligh made the move from the Adirondack Thunder in a trade for forward Brock Montgomery. Prior to that, he played a handful of games with the South Carolina Stingrays.
Andrew Schmit comes to Indy after earning 22 points (6g, 16a) in 55 games with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. The 6’5, 225-pound forward brings strength and size to the Fuel lineup and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves if necessary. Schmit is a product of the Culver Military Academy where he won the Indiana State Championship in 2008.
The Fuel roster continues to fill in and Head Coach Bernie John is putting together what appears to be, a solid, end-to-end team that will compete in the ECHL.
Fuel 2017-18 Roster-to-Date:
- Nick Bligh (6’0, 185) Age: 24 Shoots: R
- Matt Rupert (5’8, 175) Age: 23 Shoots: L
- Ryan Rupert (5’8, 173) Age: 23 Shoots: L
- Andrew Schmit (6’5, 220) Age: 25 Shoots: R
- Chris Williams (6’2, 220) Age: 26 Shoots: R
Likely Rockford Loans
- Tommy Olczyk, Forward, (5’10, 190) Age: 26 Shoots: L
- Matt Tomkins, Goaltender, (6’3, 194) Age: 23 Catches: L
As usual, the Fuel and the rest of the Blackhawks organization will continue to make moves throughout the offseason and The Sin Bin will have you covered for all roster moves and signings.