Saturday October 17, 2015
Ford Center, Evansville, IN
Fuel – The Indy Fuel won both of their preseason games this year. They first beat Fort Wayne by a score of three to one and followed it up by shutting out Quad City three to nothing. Goalie Shane Owen looked sharp in five periods of action. He allowed only a single goal on the 39 shots he faced. Owen finished last season strong holding opponents to three goals or less in the last five games he was in net. Indy had a high turnover during the offseason and that can lead to poor chemistry on the ice. Poor chemistry can lead to odd man rushes and scoring opportunities. The Fuel didn’t show signs of that in the preseason. They limited Fort Wayne to 29 shots and held Quad City to only 20.
Indy didn’t create an offensive identity during the preseason, but that may be the case all year. Of the six goals that were scored, only two players registered more than a single point during the preseason. Cody Sharib had a goal and an assist and defenseman Nick Mattson had two assists.
The Fuel are a physical team that combined for 31 penalty minutes in the preseason. They had 3 fighting majors, including an instigating penalty. The Fuel were on the penalty kill seven times in two games.
Evansville – IceMen fans can take some comfort that the team scored a combined seven goals in their back to back preseason games against the Fort Wayne Komets. The offense last year was abysmal, but that appears to be left in the past. Leading the way offensively for the IceMen was Justin MacDonald. He had two goals and an assist in the preseason. Joe Zarbo also had two goals, while Daultan Leveille had a goal and an assist.
The goalie situation for Evansville is interesting but promising for the team. A trade was executed that brought Keegan Asmundson to the team. The Binghamton Senators (AHL affiliate of Evansville) also loaned goalie Scott Greenham to Evansville. That is a large turnover in a short span for the IceMen. Currently the team has three goalies on the roster after releasing Komm. Greenham played in eight games for the IceMen last season and had a 3.50 goals against average. Asmundson started his ECHL last spring playing in three games for the South Carolina Stingrays. Keegan had a 1.67 goals against average including a shutout over the IceMen.
I spoke with IceMen head Coach Al Sims during media day and asked if the team was ready for opening night. He shared that he’s happy with their progress and expects team chemistry to increase as they log ice time together. Coach Sims expects the team to only improve over the course of the season.
What to Watch For: Indy has shown they want to grind on teams, play well defensively and utilize team offense to win hockey games. The IceMen want their identity to be a team that pushes the puck and creates a lot of offensive chances. Which team can execute their game plan and play the most complete team game will take the season opener. As it’s only game 1 of the year and both teams are full of fresh faces, defense should have the advantage.