INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel have had one of the busier offseasons in the ECHL, bringing in a brand-new coaching staff and new faces on the ice to go with them. The hiring of head coach Doug Christiansen from the now-defunct Manchester Monarchs and assistant coach Andy Contois brings a new feel of excitement to the Indy market. Only a few familiar faces return to the fold for the Fuel this year, including veteran forward Matt Rupert and 2018-19 ECHL All-Star defenseman Alex Brooks.
Nuts and Bolts:
Record: 35-32-2-3 — 75 pts
Division/Conference Finish: 5th in Central, 9th in Western Conference
Playoff Finish: Missed the Playoffs
Record vs. Division: 25-24-2-3
Record vs. Conference: 34-30-2-3
Goals For Per Game: 3.19, 15th in ECHL
Goals Against Per Game: 3.43, T-20th in ECHL
Power Play: 53/294, T-13th in ECHL
Penalty Kill: 262/316, T-10th in ECHL
- New Coaching Staff
- How will Christiansen mold with the Fuel management and how will he create a winning culture in Indy?
- Re-Assignments from Rockford
- There is a deeper prospect pool in the Blackhawks organization this year, especially in the goaltending column. What will the Blackhawks and IceHogs do with the overflow?
- Young and Speedy
- Christiansen mentioned to me at the beginning of the offseason that he wanted a young and fast team. This Fuel team is younger than in previous years, but will it be faster?
“I like our team,” Christiansen said. “We have plenty to work on but [I] really like our competitiveness and team speed.” — Indy Fuel head coach Doug Christiansen
- Mathew Thompson
- Thompson made a huge impact on the Fuel in his first full season last year. He made such a big impact that he caught the eye of the IceHogs and earned a contract with Rockford. It is expected that he will be with Indy most of the season, though.
- Keoni Texeira
- Texeira is coming off of a very successful rookie year in which he led all league rookies in power play points with the Wichita Thunder as a defenseman. The 22-year-old finished with 46 points in 70 games last season.
- Charles Williams
- Williams was one of the league’s best goaltenders last season in Manchester and he is looking to make the same impact in Indy against a very offensive-minded Central division.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
- Josh Shalla (Signed with SC Csíkszereda in Romania)
- Shalla had been the Fuel’s leading goal scorer for multiple years and was a fan favorite in Indy. This Fuel team will have a very different feel without him now.
- Logan Nelson (Signed with Atlanta Gladiators)
- Nelson made an instant impact when he was traded to Indy from Fort Wayne in 2017-18. He was a huge part of the Fuel’s inaugural playoff run when he joined the team in the latter half of the season.
- Ryan Rupert (Unsigned)
- Rupert was the team’s MVP in his first season with Indy in 2017-18 and was the leading scorer last season. He remains unsigned after a meltdown in Indy’s second to last game of the season against Fort Wayne when they were eliminated from playoff contention. He was suspended 14 games and still has 13 games to serve this season.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
This is one of the more talented teams Indy has had in the six seasons of the club’s existence, thanks in part to the new coaching tandem of Christiansen and Contois.
There are very few returning members from last year’s squad on this year’s team but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The Fuel has had the same rotating leadership in the locker room for the past four or five years with Zach Miskovic and Bernie John.
Indy has had 15 players sent to AHL training camps this offseason, one of the larger numbers in the ECHL. Fourteen of those 15 returned, with forward Dante Salituro being suspended by the team after he signed overseas in the Finnish professional league, Liiga.
On the flip side, the Fuel has already received more players than ever from the Rockford IceHogs and the Chicago Blackhawks. Six players from Rockford and two from Chicago were re-assigned to Indy. Three of those seven players spent time with Indy last season.
The combination of veteran experience (both on the ice and behind the bench) and young talent should make for a solid playoff run for Indy this season.