INDIANAPOLIS – One season ago, the Indy Fuel were poised to make their second-ever appearance in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and chase their first-ever playoff win. Nine months later, with much of the foundation in tact, the Fuel added a few pieces they hope will win them more than just one playoff game.
Here’s our breakdown of the Fuel heading into the season.
Initial Schedule (home games in BOLD and all times local):
Dec 11 – Kansas City @ INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Dec 12 – Indy @ Wheeling – 7:10 pm ET
Dec 18 – Indy @ Kansas City – 7:05 pm CT
Dec 26 – Wheeling @ INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Dec 27 – Indy @ Wheeling – 4:10 pm ET
Dec 31 – Indy @ Wheeling – 6:10 pm ET
Jan 2 – Wheeling @ INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Jan 8 – Greenville @ INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Jan 9 – Greenville @ INDY – 7:05 pm ET
Head Coach: Doug Christiansen, Second year with Indy, third overall in ECHL (69-55-8)
Captain: Not Yet Named
Last Season: 30-26-2-2; 4th in Central Division/8th in Western Conference
2019-20 Season Summary – After a feeling out process with their new head coach, the Indy Fuel improved as the 2019-20 season continued. At the end of the season in mid-March, the Fuel were in position for a berth in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, ten points clear of Kalamazoo and six points arrears of Fort Wayne for third.
Hot or Not?
What was left when the dust from the 2019-20 season settled was a solid foundation for Christiansen to build on. But there was one area he felt needed to be addressed in the expanded free-agency window this offseason:
“I wanted to have more physicality up front,” the Fuel coach said.
This offseason, the Fuel added veteran David Broll and Patrick McGrath, both known as rugged forwards. When both are in the lineup, they will create a balance of scoring and physicality throughout the lineup and will not force unexpected players to answer the bell, which happened several times last season.
- Spencer Watson (F) – Recorded a career-high 31 goals and 28 assists as well as a Fuel-franchise record 11 power-play goals in 2019-20
- Alex Rauter (F) – Scored a career-high 15 goals last season
- Keoni Texeira (D) – The power-play quarterback for the Fuel. Registered 31 points (4G, 27A), 21 of which coming on the power-play, in 59 games last season
- Charles Williams and Dan Bakala (G) – Once they were paired together, the duo went 14-9-1-2, with a 2.76 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. This will be the netminding tandem for the Fuel this season.
- Bobby MacIntyre – Signed with Frisk Asker in the Norwegian League. Currently has 28 points in 17 games.
- Craig Wyszomirski – Retired after the 2019-20 season
- Jared Thomas (F) – Acquired in a three-team trade during the offseason, the third-year forward has posted 96 points in 101 ECHL games
- Derek Barach (F) – The third-year forward will play his first full season in the ECHL in 2020-21. In 62 AHL games with Cleveland, he scored 14 goals and added 10 helpers
- Chris Martenet (D) – The 6-foot-7 defenseman is a physical, shutdown type of player who will likely log big minutes in key situations
- Scott Savage (D) – An offensive defenseman that was signed early in training camp. In 100 ECHL games with Jacksonville and Maine, Savage has scored 10 goals and added 37 assists.
What to Watch For?
- The Fuel, on paper, have a well-balanced lineup, without any assistance from higher leagues. When those players come down, how will that affect the balance of the team?
- Sticking to the process is a big thing for Christiansen and the Fuel, especially this season. Christiansen said:
“We are fortunate to be playing. The players are going to have to band together unlike any other year [and] play for each other. There will be lots of variables throughout the year, we need to worry about getting better everyday.”
For the latest news on ECHL, follow and interact with Matthew Harding on Twitter @SinBinThunder.