INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Earlier this week, the Indy Fuel were delivered a devastating blow as it was announced that forward Jan Mandat would be returning to his home country of the Czech Republic starting in 2023. He will be joining HC Dynamo Pardubice, a club in the country’s top league. Prior to joining Indianapolis, he played parts of three seasons with his hometown team from 2018-2021.
Mandat is currently in his second season with the Fuel. He currently has 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) in 9 games, leading the team in goals scored and second overall in points. The high-scoring winger has continued his success from last year, a season in which he scored 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 51 games. That season, he came to Indy largely unnoticed but quickly made an impact, finishing fifth in scoring and second in assists with the Fuel.
So, how does this affect the Fuel? Well, they will have plenty of time to prepare for his departure as it doesn’t come for at least another month. Because of that, they can start the process early of finding a suitable replacement for the successful forward. At the same time, his offensive capabilities will be serviceable for the Fuel, who find themselves in a comfortable position in the division standings, for the rest of 2022.
Currently, Indy sits in second place in the Central Division, trailing division-leading Cincinnati by two points after dropping a pair of games last weekend to the Cyclones. After the Fuel, teams three through six are separated by two points with Toledo in third with nine points, four behind Indianapolis. Wheeling and Fort Wayne are tied at eight points each, and Kalamazoo has seven, concluding with Iowa in seventh with just three points so far.
As you can see, Indy has positioned themselves in the top tier of the division hierarchy, and while losing Mandat will hurt in the long run, taking advantage of his abilities while they can will be essential in holding on to a playoff position. With traditional league superpowers Toledo and Fort Wayne sputtering out of the 2022-23 gates, an unusual feat for these two, the Fuel will have to do all they can to continue to stay in front of them, as it is likely that both teams will soon catch fire.
Indy will be tested with the pair this week, starting with the Fort Wayne Komets returning to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Thursday night after suffering a 7-5 offensive defeat in Indy’s home opener. Two nights later, the Fuel will meet the defending Western Conference Champion Toledo Walleye at the Huntington Center in Ohio for the first time this season. Both contests will be imperative for Indy to continue to stretch their lead on the two clubs as the season gets closer to December and the New Year.
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