After the first weekend, the Indy Fuel hit the ground running this week, with four games in five days starting with a home game Wednesday against Kalamazoo. They face Missouri – one of the seven expansion teams who came over from the CHL – on Friday, travel to Evansville on Saturday, then return to the Coliseum for a Sunday matinee against Fort Wayne.
Record: 0-1-0-1 (Wins-regulation losses-OT losses-SO losses)
Looking back: The Fuel played a home-and-home last weekend against Fort Wayne, dropping the opener 5-4 in a shootout on Friday, then falling 4-3 in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Robert Czarnik has two goals and an assist — all on the power play — and defenseman Nick Jones has a goal and two assists. The Fuel PP is clicking at a 40% rate (4-10) — and four of the team’s seven goals have come with the man advantage. Mathieu Brisebois had the first goal in franchise history. He and Pete Massar each have a goal and an assist. Mac Carruth and Cody Reichard shared the nets, with Carruth playing Friday and Reichard on Saturday. A sellout crowd of 6,477 came to the Coliseum on Friday to see the franchise opener.
This week’s games
Wednesday: vs. Kalamazoo Wings (1-1-0-0), 7:05 p.m. (Fairgrounds Coliseum)
Another intra-division meeting for the Fuel, who open the year with 10 of the first 11 games against fellow North Division foes. This is another reunion – the K-Wings also have a history that dates back to the International Hockey League, competing against the Checkers and Ice in the 1980s and 1990s. Kalamazoo split two 6-2 games in Elmira last weekend — winning the latter game. Forward Ludwig Blomstrand had two goals and an assist in the 6-2 win on Saturday, and had three goals in the opening weekend. Forward Dane Fox also has three points, with a goal and an assist in the Friday loss and an assist on Saturday. Forwards Nathan Longpre (G/2A) & Curtis Valk (3A) also had three points in the opening weekend. Joel Martin took the loss in net in the opener, Scott Munroe had 15 saves for the win in the second game. Kalamazoo is affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks & Columbus Blue Jackets and their AHL affiliates, and also has an affiliation with the AHL Chicago Wolves (but not their NHL parent, the St. Louis Blues).
Friday: vs. Missouri Mavericks (0-0-0-0), 7:35 p.m. (Fairgrounds Coliseum)
This game has a lot of intrigue. It’s “Pink in the Rink” night at the Coliseum, with the Fuel wearing pink sweaters and raising awareness for breast cancer research. It’s also the first — and this season, only — meeting between the Fuel and coach Scott Hillman’s former team. Missouri is one of the seven teams which came over to the ECHL from the now-defunct Central Hockey League a couple of weeks ago, and this will be the Mavericks’ season opener. Under Coach Hillman’s direction, Missouri won the CHL’s regular season title a year ago. The Fuel’s Anders Franzon played for Missouri a year ago, and Pete Massar suited up for the Mavs in the playoffs. Former Dallas Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk has taken over as the second head coach in Mavs history. The Mavericks are from Independence, Mo., near Kansas City. Like most of the former CHL teams, Missouri is an independent.
Saturday: at Evansville IceMen (1-0-0-0), 8:15 p.m. (Ford Center)
It’s the first regular-season meeting between pro sports teams from Indy and the Pocket City since the Indianapolis Indians met the Evansville Triplets in the 1984 baseball season. The IceMen are in their third ECHL season. The IceMen have a really light start to the season, as this will be Evansville’s second game. The third will be the return trip to Indy on Oct. 31. Last week, Evansville beat Gwinnett 3-1 on Saturday night. Forward Kale Kerbashian scored two goals 26 seconds apart in the first period. Forward Jarrett Lukin added a third-period insurance goal. Cal Heeter made 19 saves in net. Evansville is the farm team of the Ottawa Senators & AHL Binghamton Senators.
Sunday: vs. Fort Wayne Komets (2-0-0-0), 3:05 p.m. (Fairgrounds Coliseum)
The Fuel and Komets meet for the third time in 10 days. It’s the third of 11 meetings between the two in-state rivals this season. Last weekend, the Fuel had second-period leads in both games, but Fort Wayne rallied to win both. This will be the third game in three days for both teams — Fort Wayne travels to Kalamazoo on Friday and hosts Missouri on Saturday. Forwards Matthew Pistilli and veteran captain Kaleigh Schrock had two goals each for the Komets last weekend. Defenseman James Martin leads the team with a goal and three assists. Pat Nagle played both games in goal and has a 3.36 GAA. The Komets are the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche and AHL Lake Erie Monsters.
Moves: The Fuel made two roster moves during the weekend: Defenseman Dillon Fournier was assigned to the team by AHL Rockford on Saturday. Defenseman Nick Bruneteau was placed on the Fuel’s reserve list. On Tuesday, goaltender Mac Carruth was called up to Rockford.
Looking ahead: The Fuel have a home-and-home with Evansville next weekend, hosting the IceMen on Halloween, then traveling to the Ford Center for a Nov. 1 game, which will begin a three-game road swing for the Fuel.