INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel begin the Doug Christiansen era in Kansas as they take on the Wichita Thunder in the inaugural game of the Fuel’s sixth season. Both Christiansen and Thunder head coach Bruce Ramsay will make their coaching debuts with their respective clubs tonight.
WHO: Indy Fuel (0-0-0-0) at Wichita Thunder (0-0-0-0)
WHEN: 8:05 PM ET/7:05 pm CT
WHERE: INTRUST Bank Arena – Wichita, Kansas
HOW TO LISTEN/WATCH: Download The Sin Bin app (Google Play & Apple app stores) and ECHL.TV
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: @SinBinFuel & @SinBinThunder on Twitter
REFEREE: Stan Szczurek (#15)
LINESMEN: Rhodes Dolan (#61) & Chuck Schamel (#97)
- Matt Rupert – reserve
- Jay Dickman – reserve
- Joe Sullivan – injured reserve
- Jack Jenkins – injured reserve
- Sam Povorozniouk – injured reserve
- Dmitry Osipov – injured reserve
- Gordon Defiel – injured reserve
Fresh Start for Fuel
This Indy club looks drastically different compared to how the season ended about six months ago in Wheeling. The biggest new face comes from behind the bench. Christiansen hopes to give the Fuel fans a new and improved team to watch.
“I really like our speed,” Christiansen said. “I really like the way we get up and down the ice and I think the way the game is played now is with pace, hitting on top of teams, taking advantage in transition and from a fan point of view, you’re going to see a team that’s hungry for pucks, wanting to create offense off the rush and hopefully being overwhelming that way.”
Along with new faces, there are some returning members from prior years, including forward Mathew Thompson who recently earned a contract with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. Thompson can already tell a difference between last year under former head coach Bernie John and this year with Christiansen at the helm.
“I think [Christiansen] and [assistant coach Andy Contois] are both very, very energetic and very vocal,” Thompson said. “They grab the attention of the [locker] room very well and it trickles down to the younger group [of players].”
On the Flip Side
On the other side of the rink, the Wichita Thunder are just as rested and just as hungry as the Fuel after missing out on the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in five years (the same drought length as Indy).
However, the youth of the team combined with a new head coach may be too much to overcome in a single season. However, the Wichita club still has forward Steven Iacobellis, who tallied 65 points in 58 games last season, second amongst all rookies.
Indy defenseman Keoni Texeira will make his return to Wichita on opening night. Texeira was Wichita’s leading scorer on the blue line last year with 46 points in 70 games. The 22-year-old will suit up for the Fuel after leading the league last season in power-play points (31) and power-play assists (29).