INDIANAPOLIS – It took four years but it finally happened. Coming into the ECHL, the goal for the Indy Fuel was to develop players to make it to the NHL. The team has developed plenty of players who have gone to play in the AHL as well as some of the top European leagues. However, that being said, no player has made their debut in the NHL, until Wednesday night.
Former Indy Fuel defenseman Justin Holl made his NHL debut Wednesday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Holl received a phone call from Toronto Marlies GM Kyle Dubas Wednesday morning saying that he was being recalled on an emergency basis. Holl then received a second call from Dubas at 4:30 saying that he would be making his NHL debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“At that point, you dial it in and get ready,” said Holl in the Leafs’ post-game scrum.
Holl became the 639th ECHL player to reach the NHL and the 16th to make their debut this season. While with the Indy Fuel, Holl played 66 games, notching seven goals and 27 assists. After one season for the Fuel, Holl signed an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies. The Tonka Bay, Minnesota native played 60 games with the Toronto Marlies before being signed by the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016.
It took until Wednesday night for Holl to make his NHL debut, but he made it count when the Leafs took on the New York Islanders. While the Leafs were dominating the Islanders for the majority of the game, Holl tallied his first NHL goal on his only shot on goal of the night.
“It’s almost surreal,” said Holl, “It happens and then you’re like, ‘Wait, did that really just happen?’ and you’re like, ‘Nice, it did.’”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Holl is the first Maple Leafs defenseman to score a goal in his NHL debut since Claire Alexander in 1974.
There are currently three former Indy Fuel players playing consistently in the AHL. It will likely take more time for another alum to make the NHL.
|Justin Holl||Toronto Marlies||39||4||16||26|
|Kirill Gotovets||Manitoba Moose||33||0||5||5|
|Kevin Lynch||Syracuse Crunch||37||9||10||19|