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Recent Junior Fuel Learn To Play Hockey (Thursday Class) News

Grant Hutton (Carmel), a featured Hero in 2019, was just called up to the New York Islanders! Grant was the captain of the Miami University NCAA D-1 club when he graduated in 2019. Upon graduation, he signed with the Islanders and had a tremendous rookie season last year in Bridgeport of the AHL, scoring 21 points in 55 games as a defenseman. Grant is currently on the Islanders taxi squad awaiting the call for his first game in the SHOW! Keep an eye on their lineup in the coming weeks to make sure you don’t miss his first NHL game!
Jackson Pierson (Zionsville) was recently named a finalist for the Walter Brown Award. The award is presented annually to the top American born NCAA D-1 hockey player in New England. Jackson is finishing up his junior year at the University of New Hampshire and led the team in scoring, racking up 25 points in 23 games for the Wildcats. Pierson joined us for Hometown Heroes in the first edition in 2018. 

 

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Hometown Heroes Is Back!

By admin 03/22/2021, 11:00am EDT

“A different example of this phenomenon began on a blustery day in May 1954, when a skinny Oxford medical student named Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. The broad outlines of his achievement are well known: how physiologists and athletes alike regarded the four-minute mile as an unbreakable physiological barrier; how Bannister systematically attacked the record; how he broke the mark by a fraction of a second, earning headlines around the world and lasting fame for what Sports Illustrated later called the single greatest athletic accomplishment of the twentieth century.

Less well known is what happened in the weeks after Bannister’s feat: another runner, an Australian named John Landy, also broke the four-minute barrier. The next season a few more runners did too. Then they started breaking it in droves. Within three years no fewer than seventeen runners had matched the greatest sporting accomplishment of the twentieth century. Nothing profound had changed. The track surfaces were the same, the training was the same, the genes were the same. To chalk it up to self-belief or positive thinking is to miss the point. The change didn’t come from inside the athletes: they were responding to something outside them. The seventeen runners had received a clear signal—you can do this too—and the four-minute mark, once an insurmountable wall, was instantly recast as a stepping-stone.”  The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Hockey players can make it from Indiana. Let's inspire them!

HOMETOWN HEROES IS BACK!
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Native Hoosiers join the IYHA with decades of professional coaching experience.

The IYHA Jr Fuel is thrilled to announce the hiring of the two highest level hockey coaches ever born in the state of Indiana. Fort Wayne native and former Komets Head Coach Gary Graham will be taking over Jr Fuel 18U AAA. Gary's high school hockey teammate and former ECHL, SPHL and CHL Head Coach Brian Gratz will lead our 16U AAA team in 2021-2022. 

Coach Graham comes full circle back to the place where his coaching career started in 2008-2009 as an assistant coach with the USHL Indiana Ice and Head Coach of the Jr Ice 18U AAA team. Throughout his 15+ years of professional coaching, Gary has been a part of the coaching staff that won the USHL Clark Cup, IHL Turner Cup, CHL and SPHL championships. He has spent the majority of his coaching career as Head Coach of his hometown Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. Fuel fans will be relieved to have him on our side after a pro coaching record of 251-130-51 and boasting a .59 winning percentage in the most competitive AA minor hockey league in the world. Gary spent the 2019-2020 season in Beijing as Head Coach of ORG Beijing that competes in the Russian pro league while also helping build the Chinese National team that will compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Gary’s resume speaks for itself. To reach the level that he has as a coach, being born and raised in Indiana and not having played competitively after high school, shows his absolute commitment to the profession and unparalleled understanding of the game and how to teach it. Being born in a non-traditional hockey market and not having played professionally are two typically insurmountable hurdles to coaching at the pro level.

Coach Gratz will take the reins of Jr Fuel 16U AAA after spending the 2020-2021 season as an Assistant Coach of the Trine University NCAA D3 hockey team. Brian’s coaching resume is equally impressive for a born and raised Hoosier. 

After a playing career as a goaltender with multiple national championships for Penn State and stops in the ECHL and AHL, Coach Gratz began in the ECHL as an assistant with the Reading Royals. He went on to be a Head Coach at numerous levels of pro hockey. He spent three years in the CHL as Head Coach and GM of the Dayton Gems and Bloomington Blaze. He was a part of the transition to the SPHL in the same role with the Bloomington Thunder. 

After his time in Central Illinois, he got his break in the ECHL as an assistant with Greenville. From 2015 to 2018, Brian led the Swamp Rabbits as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations setting two franchise records for the best regular season record and longest winning streak in franchise history. 

After Greenville, Brian joined Coach Graham in Beijing as Assistant Coach. His primary duties were working with the team’s forwards and goaltenders. When the 2019-2020 season was cut short due to the COVID pandemic, Coach Gratz came home to Indiana and joined the Trine University NCAA division 3 staff as assistant coach and primary recruiter. Recruiting NCAA caliber student athletes has immersed him into the junior and youth hockey world and created a fantastic network to help educate and promote Jr Fuel players. 

One aspect of coaching that Coach Gratz takes the most pride in and will benefit our players, is promotion and the future success of his athletes. During the 2015-2016 season, his team led the ECHL in call ups to the AHL with a total of 38 promotions to 9 different teams. During his time with the Bloomington Thunder, his team led the SPHL in player call ups. 

Acting as General Managers, Directors of Player Personnel and Head Coaches in the ECHL puts both coaches far ahead of the game at the 18U and 16U AAA level having to recruit and coach their teams for a living. Both coaches have a massive network of junior, college and professional coaches along with agents and advisors that will be key to not only assemble the best Jr Fuel teams to date, but help our players take the next step in their hockey careers. 

Both men have coached numerous NHL players and hundreds of NCAA division 1 players. Both coaches worked extensively with NHL teams and player development systems through their affiliates while coaching in the ECHL. They know what it takes to compete at hockey’s highest levels.  

Both coaches have joined the IYHA staff full time and are working towards building their teams and season plans for 2021-2022. Tryout announcements and season details will be released in the coming weeks. 

Welcome to the Jr Fuel family Coach Graham and Coach Gratz!

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