As they prepare for the 2015-16 season, the Indy Fuel introduced their second captain in team history – defenseman Zach Miskovic.
Miskovic comes from within the organization, having played parts of the last two seasons with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He’s a seventh-year pro, having played for Hershey, San Antonio, Iowa, Chicago and Rockford in the AHL, and briefly for Cincinnati in the ECHL.
Forward Garett Bembridge – getting ready for his 15th pro season – is back for his second season as an alternate captain. Defenseman Kevin Quick, who is entering his eighth full season with experience in the ECHL, AHL, NHL and in Europe, is also an alternate captain.
“We believe we have a great squad and we have a lot of great guys in the locker room. Our leadership goes beyond these three guys, but these three carry a lot of weight,” Fuel coach Scott Hillman said, noting how important a team’s captains are to a strong season.
“Of a 72-game schedule, there are a lot of challenges. Some of the guys on the team are married, some are in their first year, some are in their 10th year pro or more, we’ve got guys being called up, guys being assigned. There’s a lot of dynamics that go on in the locker room, and it’s the captains who are the glue and who keep everyone moving in the same direction. There are so many challenges. These are guys with experience. They do a great job of bringing guys together and keeping guys together, especially in the tough guys and the dog days, when you’re tired and beat up. We’re proud to have these three guys as a huge part of our organization.”
Miskovic had eight points in 42 games and was +4 last season with Rockford, and brings much experience to a veteran Fuel blueline. He, Quick and Dave Pszenyczny are all veterans on the back end.
Miskovic was also an alternate captain for the IceHogs last season.
At age 30, Miskovic is one of the elder statesmen on the Fuel roster. He is a right-shot defenseman from the Chicago suburbs.
He’s looking forward to coming to the ECHL and to Indy.
“When I got the call from (coach Scott Hillman) over the summer, I was really excited. I knew the affiliation, being in Rockford last year. I know Hilly through the grapevine – we’ve crossed paths quite a few times in locker rooms and with other teams. I look forward to working with him. It’s obviously a transition for me, but it’s a process and it’s getting better every single year.”
Miskovic has come in impressed with what he’s seen with the facilities and the front office so far. He played as a visiting player in what is now the Indiana Farmers Coliseum as a junior player with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in 2004-05, prior to the arena’s rebuilding from 2012-14.
“They’ve done an amazing job – the ownership has done an amazing job,” Miskovic said. “Last year was a growing year. The facilities here have changed dramatically since my USHL days. It’s one of the top-notch programs for sure. We have an amazing facility, an amazing staff, and just like any place, that’s all you can hope for when you’re playing a season. To get off on the right foot, you have all those things in place.”
Miskovic is hoping to pass along the lessons he’s learned from others. In his rookie year of 2009-10, he won an AHL Calder Cup title with the Hershey Bears. He also won a USHL Clark Cup title with Cedar Rapids in 2004-2005. In-between, he had a successful college career at St. Lawerence University, where he scored 16 goals from the blueline as a senior in 2008-09.
Having championship experience is important, but what’s also important is passing along the lessons passed down from other players.
That’s especially important given the number of rookies and young players in the ECHL. The Fuel currently have 10 rookies on the roster.
“For me, it’s huge,” Miskovic said. “I was in their position a few years back. I played in Hershey, and that at the time was one of the most veteran-filled older teams in the league. I learned a lot from those guys. I hope to take what I learned and give back to the guys coming out of school or juniors here, and be supportive to them, and share the knowledge I was shared, and hopefully give them some stepping stones to make the next step.
“That’s the goal in the ECHL to move up to the AHL, and then to move up to the NHL. It’s taking care of all of the details at every single level, and they all expand and get more refined at each level. My goal is to help the young guys and share the knowledge that I’ve been shared with over the years.”
Miskovic was familiar with a number of Fuel players from playing in Rockford last season.
“I got to meet quite a few guys that came up and down,” Miskovic said. “I think we have a really good group of guys, a lot of depth from our first line to our fourth line up front, and on the back end, we have guys who can contribute to our offense and some grit as well, and also some great goaltending. We have a team that can start out hot and keep it rolling all the way through.”