Fuel Tank: Return to play yields three wins out of four


The Indy Fuel were forced to postpone their games against the Wheeling Nailers due to COVID-19. They got back to play the week of Jan. 18 against Tulsa. But, before resuming play, the Fuel were busy reshaping their roster.

Indy adds forwards Michael McNicholas and Russ Olssen

The Fuel signed Michael McNicholas after he started the season with the Utah Grizzlies. In two games, McNicholas tallied one goal and earned a minus-1 rating with Utah. He comes to Fuel with 130 ECHL games under his belt between the Fuel, Grizzlies and Maine Mariners. For his career, McNicholas has 25 goals and 68 assists.

After being placed on waivers by the Kansas City Mavericks, Russ Olssen was claimed by the Indy Fuel on Jan. 14. The 6-foot-4 defenseman skated in six games before being waived. For his career, Olssen has appeared in 64 ECHL games, amassing 15 goals and 11 assists.

The Fuel sign forward Nick Hutchison and goalie Billy Christopoulos

The Fuel signed forward Nick Hutchison after he finished his college career at Canisius College. The New York native skated in 140 NCAA games, earning 60 goals and 53 assists. In his senior year, Hutchison scored 18 goals and recorded 32 points. After his senior year, Hutchinson signed with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, where he played one game.

In addition to signing Hutchison, the Fuel added another goalie to the mix in Billy Christopoulos. Christopoulos spent the majority of last season with the Toledo Walleye. He appeared in 30 ECHL games between South Carolina and Toledo, amassing a 2.30 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. His save percentage led the ECHL and was the single-season record mark for the Walleye. In addition, he was named to the ECHL All-Star Rookie Team. He comes to Indy with only six career losses.

Matt Marcinew inks a deal with Tucson

Matt Marcinew is the second forward from the Fuel to sign an AHL contract this year. Marcinew appeared in nine games with the Fuel, tallying five goals and seven assists. He also earned two ECHL Player of the Week awards during his tenure with the Fuel.

Before joining the Fuel, Marcinew appeared in 41 AHL games between the Ontario Reign, Springfield Thunderbirds and Stockton Heat.

Wednesday, Jan. 21 — Fuel 3, Tulsa Oilers 2

The Fuel finally got back to play after having a week off by facing off against the Tulsa Oilers. After shaking off the rust, Fuel forward Derion Plouffe whipped a wrist shot past Tulsa goalie Devin Williams to give the Fuel the lead. Plouffe returns to the Fuel after sitting out for two weeks due to testing positive for COVID-19. The first period ended with the Fuel leading 1–0.

In his first game as a member of the Fuel, Christopoulos held Tulsa scoreless. In the second period, that would change. Christopoulos was bulled over by a Tulsa forward and then was beaten by a quick wrister from Tulsa forward Brent Gates to even the score at 1–1. The Fuel then committed a costly turnover to spring Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach for the game-leading goal at 2–1.

With two periods in the books, the Fuel once again staged the third-period comeback. The comeback was started by Fuel forward Mike Lee. Lee blasted a one-timer past Williams for the equalizer. Two minutes later, Fuel forward Joe Sullivan capped off the comeback by cashing in a Williams rebound for the 3–2 victory.

Friday, Jan. 22 — Fuel 2, Tulsa 1

The Fuel squared off against the Oilers for the second of their three games in the series. In his second game as a member of the Fuel, Christopoulos was tested early and often in the first period. The former Air Force Falcon faced 20 shots in the first period. Christolpoulous saved 19 of 20 shots faced. He allowed the lone goal of the period on a 5-on-3 man advantage for the Oilers. Adam Pleskach scored the lone goal of the period for Tulsa, his second goal in two games against the Fuel.

In the second period, the Fuel held the Oilers to six shots while amassing 12 shots of their own in the frame. Midway through the second period, Fuel forward Nic Periog fired a puck into the back of the net for the apparent game-tying goal. Sadly, the goal was waved off by the officials due to the play being blown dead before the Periog shot. The Fuel did not let the controversy affect their play, as Lee buried a one-timer off a face off to tie the game at 1–1.

The third period came and went with no goals scored by either team. In overtime, Fuel forward Alex Rauter found the back of the net to send the Fuel off into the sunset with another overtime victory, this time a 2–1 outcome.

Saturday, Jan 23. — Fuel 4, Tulsa 2

In the final game of their three-game series, the Fuel were propelled to victory by three third-period goals. In the first period, Tulsa scored on their first shot of the game from Justin Hamonic. Hamoinc fired a loose puck past Fuel goalie Taran Kozun. Kozun had been signed by the Fuel on Jan. 20 and was seeing his first game action.

The Fuel struck back with nifty passing from Pierog to Michael McNicholas, who created a back-door chance for Fuel defenseman Willie Raskob. After tying the game, the Fuel dominated the rest of the first period.

In the second period, Tulsa took the lead on a goal from defenseman Alex Brooks, who played for the Fuel last season. After two periods, the Fuel trailed 2–1.

In the third period, the Fuel started off with a barrage of chances against Tulsa goalie Roman Durny. Durny held the Fuel at bay for most of the period. However, if you keep overwhelming a goalie, eventually the netminder is going to falter, and it took until five minutes left in the third period for the Fuel to break through. Pierog finally got a wrister past Durny for the game-tying goal. Three minutes later, Fuel forward Antoine Waked was left alone in the slot and beat Durny with a slapper. The Fuel capped off the victory with an empty-net goal from Joe Sullivan.

Sunday, Jan. 24 — Wichita 2, Fuel 1

All good things must come to an end. That is what happened for Indy unfortunately, as the Fuel’s six-game winning streak came to an end against the Wichita Thunder on Sunday.

In their first matchup of the season, the Fuel and Thunder played two scoreless periods of hockey. In the third period, Indy’s Jared Thomas finally broke the scoreless tie. Thomas toe-dragged the puck and slid a shot through the wickets of Thunder goalie Evan Weninger for a 1–0 advantage.

The Thunder responded with a goal from defenseman Garrett Schmitz. Schmitz slipped into the right circle and blasted a shot past Christopoulos to level the score at 1–1. Witchita found the net again as right wing Stefan Fournier wristed a shot past Christopoulos to put the Thunder ahead 2–1, a margin that would prove to last.

Despite the loss, it was another strong showing for Christopoulos. He saved 31 of 33 shots on the evening.

Please stay tuned to The Rink for all your Fuel and ECHL news.

Center Ice Forums Fuel Tank: Return to play yields three wins out of four

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