Did I just become a hockey fan? The jury is still out, but I can tell you this: I just became a fan of the Indy Fuel. I have been to my fair share of minor league and youth hockey games, and I have even watched a few Blackhawks games. My focus has always been on staying warm, and observing the special breed of spectator, known as “hockey moms.” This time I was given the opportunity to see the game through the lens of a true spectator. The Fuel have found their home in the renovated Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, and they seem to be settled in for the long haul. From the rush of staff in the lower level corridors, to Nitro the mascot, the energy of the venue is fired up. Literally, there is fire shooting into the air during player introductions! I will give props where they are due…the music choices throughout the game were spot on as well.
I will admit, I could use a copy of “Hockey for Dummies,” as I have a hard time keeping up with the scoring commentary. Distractions are everywhere: hockey sticks abandoned mid-play, direct hits to the neck, and raving fans berating the opposing players in the penalty box.
What I can tell you, is that the Fuel fought hard for their first goal of the night, scored by Robert Czarnik. Czarnik would later go on to make the game winning goal in the third period. Matt White delivered the second goal of the game, in a second period “power-play.” I can’t tell you what a power-play is, other than a cheer inducing few minutes, that the crowd seems to eat up. The Fuel had great opponents in the Wheeling Nailers. I was especially impressed by the tenacity and size of the Wheeling goalie, Eric Hartzell. Seriously, the guy is 6’4″ and may have grimaced at me from behind the glass. It didn’t help, that the rowdy crowd was attempting to antagonize him for most of the game.
Peppered in between periods, the crowd of 5,349 was treated to videos montages and presentations of local military heroes, kiss cams, and a goal scoring competition. It was pretty entertaining to watch a Muncie woman best local sports writer Bob Kravitz, by sinking a goal worth $1000.00. The Fuel also sported special jerseys for Military Appreciation Night, which will soon be posted on the Fuel’s Ebay page.
I will definitely be visiting the Fuel again, as I still have much to learn about the world of hockey. You may even hear me cheer out loud.