INDIANAPOLIS - The Indy Fuel, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, announced Thursday that they have signed veteran forward Michael Neal to a 2017-18 ECHL contract. Neal is set to begin his first full season with the Fuel, after joining the team near the end of the 2016-17 campaign.
Neal, 28, signed with Indy as a free agent on Feb. 12, and immediately became a top contributor for the club. In 21 games with the Fuel, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward recorded 23 points (11g, 12a) and 25 penalty minutes, finishing with a total of nine multi-point performances. Neal was one of Indy's hottest scorers over the final month of the season, tallying 10 goals and 10 assists over a 12 game span from March 10 to April 2 - including a hat trick on March 17 in Kalamazoo.
A native of Whitby, Ontario, Neal began the 2016-17 season in Germany with ERC Sonthofen 1999, where he tallied 10 goals and 12 assists in 31 games.
“We are excited to have Mike returning to Indianapolis for a second season,” Fuel Head Coach and VP of Hockey Operations Bernie John said. “He brings a wealth of experience to our roster, in addition to a high skill and compete level which he showed at the end of last season. In addition to a couple of our other signings, Mike is going to be a key part of the core of players we want to build our team around here.”
Entering his ninth season of professional hockey, Neal has seen action in 421 ECHL contests with Indy, Wichita, Kalamazoo, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Bakersfield, Orlando and Idaho - accumulating a total of 205 points (84g, 121a) and 249 penalty minutes. Additionally, the fifth round selection of the Dallas Stars in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft (No. 149 overall) appeared in 22 AHL games with the Texas Stars from 2009-11, marking three goals. A four-year product of the Ontario Hockey League, Neal is the younger brother of current Vegas Golden Knights forward James Neal.
With Neal's signing, the Fuel have a total of 14 players under contract for 2017-18 - consisting of nine forwards and five defensemen. View the entire roster by clicking here.
Opening Night of the 2017-18 Indy Fuel season arrives on October 21, and Ticket Plans are now on sale! Join the team for year four at Indiana Farmers Coliseum and receive priority access to seats for the 2018 CCM/ECHL All Star Classic! Learn more by visiting IndyFuelHockey.com or calling 317-925-FUEL. Keep tabs on the team during the offseason by following the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and don't forget to ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
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