INDIANAPOLIS - The Indy Fuel, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks and the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs, announced the team's end-of-season award winners Monday night at the 2017-18 Indy Fuel Awards Banquet at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Selected by Fuel Head Coach Bernie John and Assistant Coach Ryan McGinnis, the 2017-18 Indy Fuel Award Winners are listed below in the order which they were revealed on Monday.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: ÉTIENNE MARCOUX
Despite coming into training camp on a tryout contract, goaltender Étienne Marcoux proved to be an invaluable part of the Fuel's success in 2017-18. The 24-year-old finished with a 22-12-1-1 record in 38 appearances, posting a 2.94 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. Starting the season playing alongside Fuel assignees Matt Tomkins and Collin Delia, Marcoux soon garnered league recognition, being named December's ECHL Rookie of the Month before being named to the CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic roster in January. Through the course of the season the native of Laval, Quebec also earned a trio of AHL call-ups with three different teams, finally making his AHL debut on March 3 against Rockford.
DEFENSEMAN OF THE YEAR: ROBIN PRESS
In his year with Indy on reassignment from AHL Rockford, Robin Press set a new Fuel single-season record for defenseman scoring with 44 points (10g, 34a) in 52 games. The 23-year-old from Uppsala, Sweden led all Indy skaters with a +8 rating, and broke a franchise record with 20 power play points. In February, Press became the first blueliner in 15 years to earn Player of the Month honors after registering 16 points (5g, 11a) in a 12 game span.
LEADING SCORER: MICHAEL NEAL
After seeing his 2016-17 campaign cut short due to a knee injury, Indy captain Michael Neal rebounded with the most productive season of his nine-year professional career. The 29-year old set career highs in points (52), goals (20) and assists (32), edging out forwards Darian Dziurzynski (51 points) and Josh Shalla (50 points) in the team scoring race. A native of Oshawa, Ontario, Neal registered 13 multi-point games, and represented the Central Division at the ECHL All-Star Classic in January.
PENALTY KILLER AWARD: MATT RUPERT
Winning the Fuel's Penalty Killer Award for the second straight season, Matt Rupert again was one of Bernie John's most reliable players in any situation. The third-year pro from Grand Bend, Ontario set a career high with 40 points (17g, 23a), playing alongside his twin brother Ryan for most of the season. In two seasons with the Fuel, Rupert has dressed in all but one contest, ranking second behind Zach Miskovic on the franchise games played list.
GAME CHANGER AWARD: DARIAN DZIURZYNSKI & JOHNNY McINNIS
A pair of mid-season acquisitions played a key role in the Fuel reversing a slow start to earn the first playoff berth in club history. After recording only five points through his first 18 games of the season with Toledo and Rapid City, forward Darian Dziurzynski took his game to another level after a mid-December trade brought him to Indy. The forward produced at nearly a point-per-game clip with the Fuel, marking 24 goals and 22 assists in 47 games, providing 11 points on the power play.
Claimed off of waivers from South Carolina in late November, Johnny McInnis provided the Fuel another scoring weapon while being a dependable two-way player. The forward tallied 34 points (18g,16a) in 57 games with Indy while playing with the team's shut-down forward unit.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: RYAN RUPERT
Joining his brother Matt in Indy during the offseason, Ryan Rupert made a significant impact in all facets of the game during his first season with the Fuel. The fourth year forward finished fourth on team scoring (17g, 32a), setting career highs in all offensive categories. Effective with both special teams units, Rupert tallied 15 points on the power play while ranking third in the ECHL with six shorthanded points.
It's time to #FindYourNextGear and cheer on the Indy Fuel during the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs! The Central Division Semifinals shift to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for Game 3 on Wednesday, April 18, as the Fuel take on the Toledo Walleye. Be part of the first playoff appearance in Fuel history by picking up your tickets at IndyFuelHockey.com or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office. Don't miss a second of the action during the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs - follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
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