The Indy Fuel have fired head coach Scott Hillman and replaced him with interim coach Bernie John, the team announced Monday. Indy is the Chicago Blackhawks' affiliate in the ECHL, the hockey minor league a tier below the AHL.
Hillman was the first head coach in the Fuel's history. The franchise joined the ECHL for the 2014-15 season and became the Blackhawks' affiliate below the Rockford IceHogs. In his first season coaching Indy, Hillman posted a 31-30-4 record as the team failed to qualify for the playoffs.
"We are looking ahead with this move," said Indy Fuel chairman Jim Hallett in a statement. "Bernie John has been a part of this organization from the beginning and as we begin the search for a full-time head coach his name will certainly be on that list. But this season isn’t over and the Fuel still have a chance at a playoff berth. With his championship experience and professional resume, we want to provide an immediate spark for the team for the remaining 13 games."
The Fuel are currently fourth in the ECHL's Midwest Division with a 27-30-2 record. The team is coming off an especially rough few weeks. Since late January, Indy has won just five of its past 15 games. That presumably helps explain Hillman's firing.
Most of Chicago's top prospects never play for Indy because they report to Rockford. Some familiar names who have suited up for the Fuel this season include Mac Carruth, Dillon Fournier and Sam Jardine. Undrafted free agent Alexandre Lavoie, 23, is the team's leading scorer with 44 points in 58 games this season.