FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Tucked away among Indianapolis’ proud sports landscape is minor league hockey. If you can handle 36 road games — all by bus — the ECHL is a lifeline to the biggest rinks in the game.
But this past weekend the league made an abrupt call: The cash couldn’t cover canceled games due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Indy Fuel’s season was over.
“Obviously, with everything going on and the league shutting down, it is an emotional time for guys,” fourth-year pro Craig Wyszomirski said. “There are guys who have played their last games and guys that don’t know if they will play again.”
Wyszomirski is one those guys. Despite being beloved by his teammates and named a captain during his lone season in Indianapolis, “Wiz” is seriously considering retirement. And that notion isn’t going over well with one fan.
Andrea Teel is a third-grader from Avon. Before last season, hockey didn’t mean a thing to her. Her folks took her to check out the Indy Fuel and, just like that, Andrea was hooked: Screaming at games, begging for autographs and even learning to skate.
“They (Indy Fuel games) are really, really fun,” Teel said. “I love going to games there. You can high-five the players.”
When the news broke that the season was canceled, Andrea was just as devastated as the team. She told her mom that she wanted to write a special note to her favorite player to cheer him up.
The message made its way to Wyszomirski on social media and then came arguably the best move of the entire season.
Twenty-four hours after the news broke, Andrea headed out for what she thought was a typical open skate.
After a couple of laps, out popped Wiz with a note of his own for his favorite superfan.
“Your mom tweeted me yesterday and showed me your note,” Wyszomirski said. “I wanted to say thank you so much, it made my absolute day. It means the world. It means everything to us. We don’t play for the money or anything like that, so I appreciate it.”
Whether you are 6-foot-4 or 4-foot-6, when your world comes crashing down, you never know who may pick you up.