Neal back for second year with Fuel

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, announced that they have signed veteran forward Michael Neal to a contract for the 2017-18 season. 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, he 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 22 points (10g-12a) in 31 games.

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 (149th 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.