The Indiana Farmers Coliseum welcomed back the Indy Fuel and their fans for the first since Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
Friday, Dec. 11 — Fuel 4, Kansas City Mavericks 3
After nine long months of no ECHL hockey, the Indy Fuel hosted their home opener against the Mavericks in front of a socially distanced crowd. It was their seventh opening night in franchise history.
Three minutes into the game, Indy jumped out to a power play, however, the power play backfired as Mavericks defenseman Zach Osburn snuck down the backside and fired a slapper past goalie Dan Bakala.
Late in the period, the Fuel got into the contest with a goal from the big man, forward David “Let the Good Times” Broll.
After finishing the first period tied at 1–1, the Fuel earned two back-to-back penalties to start the second period. With Indy down two men, Mavericks center Giorgio Estephan wired a shot past Bakala for the Mavericks’ second goal of the game. Indy would respond with a goal of their own, as newly signed forward Peter Krieger fed an open Alex Rauter for a slapshot goal. Rauter is looking to build off an 11-goal campaign last season.
With the score tied at 2–2 and the second period winding down, the Fuel were caught napping by an odd-man Maverick rush. The rush led to a game-leading goal from veteran forward Lane Scheidl. Scheidl returned to the ECHL this season after spending two years in the Slovakia league with HK Nitra.
Onto the third with the Fuel trailing 3–2, it took all but 9.7 seconds left in the third period for Indy to tie the game. Recently acquired center Derek Barach tied the game with a tap in goal. Barach came to Fuel after spending most of 2019–20 with the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL.
After a scoreless overtime, the game processed into a shootout. Bakala stonewalled all three Maverick shooters and Fuel forward Peter Krieger broke the scoreless drought and secured the Indy victory.
Saturday, Dec. 12 — Fuel 3, Wheeling Nailers 2
The Fuel picked up their first road victory of the season against the Nailers. After two stong periods, the Fuel hung on for the victory.
In the first period, forward Derian Plouffe danced his way through Nailers defense to find Barach on the top of the left circle. Barach fired the puck past Wheeling’s goalie, Shane Starrett, for the early lead.
It did not take long for the Fuel to extend their lead, as Broll tipped in a Seamus Malone shot from the point. That was Broll’s second goal of the season and Malone’s first point of the season.
In the second period, Wheeling finally got on the scoresheet with a goal from defenseman Chad Duchesne. Duchesne fired a wrist shot past Bakala for the Nailers’ first goal of the game. Later in the second period, Rauter found recently acquired forward Jared Thomas to give the Fuel the lead for good.
With the lead 3–1 in the third period, Wheeling would attempt a comeback behind a breakaway goal from right wing Michael Joly. For Fuel fans, that was all the comeback Wheeling would mount, as the Fuel won 3–2.
Rockford sends three players to Indy
The Rockford IceHogs have assigned three players to Fuel in forwards Riley McKay and DJ Busdeker as well as goalie Tom Aubrun.
Busdeker comes to Fuel from Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit. The Michigan native appeared in 62 games recording 22 goals, 35 assists and a plus-46 rating.
McKay joins Indy after playing for the Western Hockey League Saskatoon Blades, earning 19 goals and 19 assists. The 6-foot forward skated in 243 games between the Spokane Cheifs and Saskatoon Blades in four seasons.
Aubrun was assigned to the Fuel after he completed his collegiate career at Norwich University (NCAA III). He earned a 3.61 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. The 6-foot goaltender helped the Cadets earn the 2017 NCCA National Championship. He also earned back-to-back NEHC Goaltender of the Year Honors.
Fuel add free agent Nic Pierog
The Fuel dipped back into the free-agent pool, adding Nic Pierog. The 27-year-old forward spent last season between American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and ECHL’s Worcester Railers. The Ontario native has 118 ECHL games under his belt between the Railers and Manchester Monarchs, registering 54 goals, 35 assists and 87 penalty minutes.
In corresponding roster moves, the Fuel have released forward Cody Payne and goaltender Ryan Ruck.
The Fuel are playing the Kansas Mavericks on the Road on Friday. It will be the last game before the Christmas holiday. In addition to playing on Friday, the Fuel have added six games to their existing schedule. The Fuel will now play in the second window of games starting on Jan. 15 and 16 against the Wheeling Nailers.