Head Coach: Bernie John, first year as head coach, record as interim head coach 5-6-2-0
Captain: Has not been released
Last Season: 32-36-4, did not make playoffs
The Fuel began last season very well, winning nine of their first 15 games under former Head Coach Scott Hillman. Since the beginning of the franchise, the goal has been to make it to the Kelly Cup Final, but the playoffs have to come first. Hillman built young teams hoping for a fast-paced, defensive game. That backfired after a few trades made last season causing the team to earn one regulation win in their previous 11 games, finding themselves essentially eliminated from the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Although Bernie John took over the team in early March, it was too little, too late. John took over the team and earned a 5-6-2-0 record in his final 11 games.
Hot or Not?
A big problem last season was goaltending and goal scoring. The Fuel began last season with Mac Carruth and Shane Owen between the pipes. Carruth, now the starting goaltender for the Rockford IceHogs, gave more to Fuel fans than they realized. In early March, a trade sent Shane Owen to the Elmira Jackals while Carruth’s time with Indy’s AHL affiliate had already begun. Indy was left with two young goaltenders for the rest of the season. While the team struggled in the goaltending department, they also struggled to score goals. The inconsistent goaltending as well as the inability to put goals on the board eventually led to the firing of Scott Hillman.
- Five players return to the Indy Fuel lineup including the former captain, Zach Miskovic.
- Michael Colantone and Cody Sharib return as goalscorers as well as Justin Hussar, who joined the team late last season.
- Defenseman Nick Mattson returns to the Circle City. This time, on a Rockford contract. Mattson will most likely split his time with Indy and Rockford this season.
Key Players that Left
Several of the Fuel’s goal scorers left for other teams or Europe during this offseason.
- Alex Lavoie left the team for BIK Karlskoga in Sweden. Lavoie led the team in total points last season.
- Rhett Bly also went across the pond to play for Brûleurs de Loups in Grenoble, France.
- Peter Schneider was part of a trade that sent him and defenseman Kevin Clare from the Indy to the Florida Everblades in exchange for forward Kevin Lynch and defenseman Matt Stanisz.
- Daniel Ciampini signed with the AHL’s Ontario Reign but will spend part of his time with the ECHL’S Manchester Monarchs this season.
New Key Players
Head Coach Bernie John made several strong moves during this offseason. One of the biggest is acquiring Kevin Lynch from the Florida Everblades. Last season, Lynch tallied 58 points (22g, 36a) in 62 games with the Everblades.
Alex Wideman will be another player to watch as he is a small but strong forward. He split time with the Binghamton Senators and Evansville IceMen last season. Although Wideman is only 5’7″, Wideman is no stranger to putting up points. Last season, he tallied 38 points (15g, 24a) in 58 games.
Other players to watch
- Marek Tvrdon (Signed from Grand Rapids)
- Matt Stanisz
Movin’ On Up
Since the beginning of the franchise, the Fuel have been given a few players from their AHL affiliate, Rockford IceHogs. This season, the IceHogs have assigned defensemen Nick Mattson and Jonathan Carlsson as well as goaltenders Eric Levine and Jake Hildebrand. Two players that could also see time with Rockford are Marek Tvrdon and Kevin Lynch. For the last three seasons, Tvrdon has split time with Grand Rapids Griffins and Toledo Walleye, spending the majority of his time with the Walleye. Assuming Tvrdon puts up points in a Fuel uniform, it is possible he sees time with the IceHogs this season.
Lynch arrived in Indianapolis from a trade with the Florida Everblades. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound center saw some time in the American Hockey League last season, going on loan with the Manitoba Moose and Syracuse Crunch. Lynch spent the majority of his time with the Everblades, posting 58 points (22g, 36a) in 62 games. For what it is worth, the center donned the captain’s “C” for the Fuel in the second preseason game. If he can continue to produce the same numbers while with the Fuel as he did with the Everblades, it is possible to see Lynch in the Blackhawks-style Rockford IceHogs jersey.
Sin Bin Swami Says…: In the newly formed Central Division, playing the fast-paced, physical game that Head Coach Bernie John wants to play will be very important. Indy struggled with putting goals on the board consistently last season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this season. The Fuel will have two strong goaltenders and the depth to compete for a spot in the ECHL Playoffs this season. The Fuel will make the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time but to say they compete for the Kelly Cup would be saying a lot.
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