The warmup acts are finished. It’s now time for the ECHL season.
The Indy Fuel finished the preseason schedule Saturday night with a 5-2 loss at Fort Wayne in the second half of their weekend home-and-home.
With two nights of games and a week of training camp in the books, the Fuel coaching staff will now look to pare the roster down from the 30-player preseason limit to 23 players – 21 on the active roster and two on reserve – for Friday’s opener in Wichita.
Indy again played a hybrid lineup that mixed experienced players with those vying for roster spots, as did Fort Wayne.
The Fuel got off to a solid start, outshooting the Komets 14-10 in the opening period and getting a power play goal on a rebound from Matt Johnson 12:14 into the game, tying the contest at 1-1. It was Johnson’s second first-period goal in as many nights.
Travis Armstrong then gave Indy a lead by wiring a shot through traffic from the point just 73 seconds into the second period.
Fort Wayne scored two quick goals – Marc-Olivier Roy shorthanded and Garrett Thompson less than three minutes later – to take the lead, and added two third-period goals. Roy had two goals and an assist, also scoring in the third. The third period showed some physicality, as there were two sets of matching minors and one fight – between Armstrong and Gabriel Desjardins, each of whom had scored a goal earlier in the game.
Matt Tomkins, on loan from Rockford, played the first two periods and stopped 14 of 17 shots. Rookie Etienne Marcoux made five saves on seven shots in the third period. Fort Wayne also rotated goaltenders, with Garett Bartus and Alex Sakellaropoulos splitting the game. Both Fuel goals came on Bartus.
- Three forwards made their preseason debuts – the Rupert twins and Ryan Siiro, the latter of which was playing on a tryout offer. On the blueline, Travis Armstrong, Brandon Rumble and Brandon Anselmini all skated for the first time. Anselmini came down from Rockford mid-week. Rumble is playing on a tryout offer.
- For the second straight game, the trio of Tommy Olczyk, Austin Hervey and Connor Reilly found the net, setting up Travis Armstrong’s point shot. Olczyk and Reilly had the assists for their second points in as many games.
- Matt Johnson has made an impact so far, with two of the Fuel’s five goals in the preseason, scoring in each game. He had six goals in 43 games for Greenville last season. He had a team-high four shots Saturday night, tying Troy Vance for tops on the team.
- Time for the season to begin. The Fuel’s fourth season begins on the road before the home opener Oct. 21 against Tulsa.
Matt Rupert-Ryan Rupert-Nick Bligh
Matt Johnson-Reed Seckel-Ryan Siiro
Tommy Olczyk-Austin Hervey-Connor Reilly
Will Smith-Joseph Widmar-Andrew Schmit
Jack Burton-Troy Vance
Brandon Anselmini-Brandon Rumble
Travis Armstrong-Anthony Cortese
Scratches: Cam Reid, Geoff Walker, Alex Wideman, Garrett Clarke, Nolan Descoteux, Zach Miskovic, Collin Delia, Michael Neal, Chris Williams