The Indy Fuel’s sophomore season was one of transitions.
But as they spent the latter part of the season looking ahead to 2016-17 with a number of new faces and head coach Bernie John, they saw a lot to build on.
The Fuel dropped a 3-2 decision to Fort Wayne on Paul Crowder’s overtime goal in the season finale Saturday night, but Indy took three of four possible points from the weekend against the Midwest Division’s champions.
Indy finished the season 32-36-4. Cody Sharib and Rhett Bly scored for Indy in the finale. Crowder tallied two goals for the hosts.
Now, the Fuel begin looking to the offseason and building their team for 2016-17 under the guidance of John, whose appointment as the team’s head coach and vice president of hockey operations was announced prior to Friday’s game.
Rookie goaltender Terry Shafer impressed in his second pro start, making 28 saves against one of the ECHL’s highest-scoring teams.
The opening moments were fast – David Friedmann scored just 1:12 into the game to give Fort Wayne a quick lead, but Indy responded just over a minutes later when Sharib and Daniel Ciampini’s hard forecheck jarred the puck free from Fort Wayne netminder Pat Nagle behind the net. Sharib then beat Nagle to the post to tie the game for a quick PPG.
The goal gave Sharib a team-best 17 for the season.
Two of the three longest-tenured Fuel players combined to give the Fuel a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second. Matt White carried the puck up the left side and fed Rhett Bly posted in front of the net, who redirected it in for his 15th goal of the season. Shafer kept it a one-goal lead by stopping 11 shots in the period.
In the third, Crowder scored :21 to tie the game, and that held until he scored :33 into overtime to give his team a victory. The Fuel had to kill two penalties in the third, and had a mid-period power play.
Nagle made 20 saves for Fort Wayne, which was 0-3 on the PP. Indy was 1-3.
- Paul Crowder (FW) 2G
- Pat Nagle (FW) 20 saves
- Terry Shafer (Fuel) 28 saves
- The Fuel’s sophomore season saw one more win than last year (32), but fewer points due to more games ending in regulation. The Fuel finished the year with the aforementioned 32-36-4 record – and no shootout losses.
- Cody Sharib (17) finished the season as the goal leader. Alex Lavoie finishes tops in assists (38) and points (54). Both Lavoie and Schneider had 16 goals, Bly had 15.
- Bly and Ben Marshall were the two Fuel players to suit up in all 72 games this season. Bly has played in 142 of the team’s 144 games so far. He, White and Anders Franzon are the three players from the Fuel’s opening-night roster in 2014 to play in the 2015-2016 season finale.
- Everyone who got on the scoresheet tonight finished on a streak. Bly finished with points in his last two games after an 18-game scoreless streak. Sharib also finished the year with a two-game scoring streak – posting two-point games in both contests this weekend. Ciampini finished with four goals and eight assists in his last seven games, tallying a point in six of them. White also had a two-game scoring streak to finish the year.
- The Fuel finished the season series 4-5-2 against Fort Wayne and 26-14-4 against Midwest Division foes. They finish in a fourth-place tie with Evansville in the Midwest with 68 points, and in a 10th-place tie in the Western Conference.
- Thanks for reading IndyPuck during the 2015-16 season. We’ll have a few features & keep you up on Fuel news during the offseason, as well as more historical work.
Daniel Ciampini-Alex Lavoie-Peter Schneider
Dylan Clarke-Brandon Wong-Rob De Fulviis
Cody Sharib-Matt White-Rhett Bly
Nick Petrecki-Anders Franzon
Kevin Clare-Ben Marshall
Sam Jardine-Trevor Campbell
BU: Keegan Asmundson
Scratches: Patrick Koudys, Colin Murray, Michael Colantone, Mike Seidel (IR), Dillon Fournier (IR)
Next up: The schedule for the 2016-17 season will likely be announced sometime in May. On June 15, the end-of-season rosters will be posted, and teams may begin signing players and making qualifying offers on June 16.