The Indy Fuel announced Monday in a press release that head coach Bernie John will return to his position with the Fuel for the 2017-18 season.
The Fuel went 23-42-7 in John’s first full season, and showed a tremendous improvement over the closing stretch, going 8-3-2 in a 13-game stint in March and April, all in games against teams either in or vying for playoff position.
“I am excited to have Coach John leading our club into the offseason, and I have the utmost confidence that the Fuel are ready to take the next step as a franchise under his direction,” Fuel Chairman Jim Hallett said in a statement. “With a full season under his belt as a head coach in this league, Bernie will have the benefit of experience along with his familiarity of our organization. While there were no doubt difficult times this past season, the way this team played over the last month assures me that we are heading in the right direction.”
John took over as the team’s interim coach at the end of the 2015-16 season and led the team to a 5-6-2 mark before being named the team’s full-time head coach.
He has a substantial amount of playing and coaching experience. He played professionally for 13 years from 1993-2006, nearly all coming in the United and Central Hockey Leagues. Five of those years were spent with the CHL’s Indianapolis Ice from 1999-2004, where he was the team’s captain for four of those seasons and a player-assistant coach under Ken McRae for the last two. John helped lead the Ice to a Miron Cup title in 2000. John also was an assistant coach for the USHL Indiana Ice team that won the Clark Cup title in 2014. Before matriculating to the head coaching position, John was an assistant coach for the Fuel under Scott Hillman from 2014-16.
The Fuel will search for a full-time assistant coach for the upcoming season. The team has had multiple part-time assistant coaches, including Jan Jas for the past three seasons. Derek Edwardson and John also had served as assistants.
“Heading into next season, I am fully committed to bringing a winning program on the ice. We owe it to our fans to be in the middle of a run to the Kelly Cup this time next spring,” Hallett said in a team statement. “We will be looking for someone with a winning pedigree and professional experience at a high level to come in and help Bernie with the various day-to-day difficulties of coaching a team at this level, specifically with special teams, scouting and game film breakdown.”