Indy Fuel Season Wrap-Up


The Indy Fuel just completed their fourth season in the ECHL, a year that featured its fair share of ups and downs. During this season, the Fuel managed to put together four game winning streak, while their worst losing stretch was seven in a row.

A Fantastic Rebound Season

This season’s campaign was quite a turnaround from the result the team had the previous year, though. Last season, the Fuel finished with an abysmal 23-42-7 record, which placed them third to last in the league. They also boasted a -94 goal differential in that season.

The Fuel enjoyed a great bounce-back year, setting franchise records in wins (36), points (77), and road wins (16) this season. The beginning of the year started off on the wrong foot, as the team won just two games in the month of October. One of those two wins came against the future Brabham Cup champion, Florida Everblades, however.  In that game, future Rockford Icehogs starting goaltender Collin Delia backstopped the Fuel with 36 saves in a 5-2 victory. Delia would go on later to eventually start in two games in Chicago with the Blackhawks, as well.

Player Analysis

The Fuel started to finally find their stride once they acquired power forwards Darian Dziurzynski and Logan Nelson, sniper Josh Shalla, two-way forward Johnny McInnis, playmaker Mathew Thompson, and shutdown defender Jaynen Rissling.

Dziurzynski turned out to be a crucial piece to the team’s Kelly Cup Playoff puzzle. Since joining the club from Rapid City, the power forward played in 47 games with the Fuel, recording 24 goals, five of which came on the man advantage. Along with his stellar goal scoring ability, It is also worth noting that Dziurzynski appeared in ten games with the Toledo Walleye, the Fuel’s first-round opponent in the playoffs. During his brief stint with the Walleye, Dziurzynski recorded three assists.

Logan Nelson has been anything but quiet during his brief time with the Fuel.  He was acquired in what was, arguably, the best trade in Indianapolis’ four-year history. The Fuel acquired Nelson in a trade with their in-state rival, the Fort Wayne Komets. Fuel Head coach and head of Hockey Operation Bernie John sent defenseman Anthony Cortese to Fort Wayne for Nelson. Cortese, coincidentally, did not make the Komets’ final playoff roster.

Nelson, however, has not been afraid to throw the body around and he seems to have great chemistry with teammates on the ice. He has 12 assists in the 21 games he has been in the lineup with the Fuel.  Along with his offensive production, Nelson has also shown terrific defensive ability. He has put pressure on the opposing forwards every time down the ice.

Fuel fan favorite Josh Shalla was fantastic, once again, this season. Shalla joined the team in a trade with the Wheeling Nailers last season and finished with 42 points in 48 games with the Fuel. Shalla later joined the EIHL but eventually returned to the Fuel this season. The sniper finished the 2017-18 season with the team lead in goals (28), despite re-joining the team after the New Year. Shalla earned himself the nickname “Komet Killer” after earning 26 points in 15 games against Fort Wayne  over the last two seasons. It seems that Shalla finds the back of the net in almost every game against the Komets.

Johnny McInnis could be the most underrated player on the Fuel this season.  The defensive-minded forward joined the team from the South Carolina Stingrays early in the seasonand has found a home on the wing alongside the pesky Rupert twins, Matt and Ryan.  McInnis has shown balanced scoring ability at times, posting 34 points in 56 games with Indy, including 18 goals.

McInnis’s defensive ability was in full force during the final seconds of the Fuel’s playoff-clinching victory over the Kalamazoo Wings, as he sprawled on the ice to block a couple of shots from the Wings’ defensemen. These blocked shots secured the 2-1 Fuel victory and their inaugural playoff berth.

Mathew Thompson is another brand new addition to the Fuel, hailing from division-III Adrian College. Thompson only appeared in seven games with the Fuel this season, but when he played, he had flashes of brilliance. He recorded six points and a +4 rating during those seven games. In every game the young playmaker has dressed, the Fuel have earned at least one point, which have proven to be very important down the stretch.

Jaynen Rissling has been a welcome addition to a less than stellar defensive unit this season. Rissling came to the Fuel in another trade with Wheeling, which sent defenseman Nolan Descoteaux and forward Stephen Collins to the nailers in return. There is certainly room for improvement in the big defenseman’s physical game.

Regardless, Rissling has done a lot for this team, and it shows in the +/- category. During his 21 games with Indy, Rissling had a +7 rating, good for second on the team. The shutdown defenseman showed that he could add some offense too, dishing out 11 assists and netting three goals.

The Fuel have generally had a sub-par defensive unit, but this year they have shown potential to build on. Obviously, there is still room for improvement, as primary goaltender Etienne Marcoux had to be leaned on heavily, making the ninth most saves in the league.

The Fuel’s best defensive pairing of Brandon Anselmini and Robin Press produced for the Fuel when they needed it most. Both have spent some time with the IceHogs and it has been apparent. Press was named ECHL Player of the Week and was the first defenseman to be named the award winner in 15 years.

Along with Press showing his silky smooth moves on the point, Anselmini played more of the pest role.  Together, Press and Anselmini also led the team with +8 and +6, respectively.

On to the ECHL Playoffs

The Fuel will be entering their inaugural playoff campaign with some positive momentum after their emotional 2-1 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings in the final game of the regular season, which clinched the playoff berth.

The Fuel are also riding hot goaltender Etienne Marcoux. The surprising rookie netminder finished the season 22-12-1 with a GAA of 2.94 (18th) and a save percentage of 0.918 (9th).  The 24-year-old seemingly had to stand on his head at times, making superb saves to either keep the Fuel in games or sustain a slim lead.  His strong play also earned him tryouts with Laval, Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL.

Next Up

The Fuel begin  the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs on Friday, April 13 in Toledo against the Walleye. Puck drop for Game 1 is 7:35 PM EDT.

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