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The Fort Wayne Flames were an indoor soccer club based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that competed in the American Indoor Soccer Association, playing home games at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum from 1986 to 1989.

History

The team was founded in by a group of four investors: Bob Britt, Fred Mathews, Jr., James Speed, and William Fahlsing and began play in the 1986–87 season of the American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA). The team reached out to experience by hiring away Pete Mahlock from the Louisville Thunder to be the team General Manager. Former Seattle Sounders (NASL), Cleveland Force (MISL), & Wichita Wings (MISL) goalkeeper and University of Washington coach Cliff Brown was brought in to be the first Head Coach of the franchise.

The inaugural season was one of struggle for the fledgling team. Just five games into the season, Brown was fired and replaced by defenseman Tom Alioto who continued his on field duties as a player/coach. As the team struggled on field, finishing last in the Southern Division with a 13–29 record, it also struggled off field. Despite finishing the season with the fourth-best attendance in the league, the season ended with the franchise having racked up huge losses that left the future in jeopardy.

The franchise would return for the 1987–88 season as remaining investors Mathews and Speed were joined by local businessman Craig Hartman, who with a huge influx of his own money, assumed the role as team President. Retaining Mahlock as GM, the team hired former three-time Indiana University All American, 1978 Hermann Trophy winner, NASL player, and United States Olympian Angelo DiBernardo to become the third Head Coach of the franchise. Although the on field play improved under new leadership, the team suffered and incredible 10 one-goal losses (the rest of the league had 13 one-goal losses combined) en route to a 9–15 record and a last-place finish in the regular season.

Abandoning a traditional playoff format, the AISA instituted a six-team, home-and-away, round robin “Challenge Cup” Series to crown the 1988 post-season champion. Living up the promise they showed in the regular season, the Flames became dominant during the Cup Series, outscoring their opponents 67–46 through the first 11 games and posting an 8–3 record. The final game of the “Challenge Cup” was scheduled for April 1, 1988, with the Flames playing host to the 1984–85 and 1985–86 AISA Champion Canton Invaders. With each team hosting an 8–3 record, the game would be winner-take-all for the Cup. In front of a sellout (and franchise record) crowd of 8,028, the Flames would fall behind early and stage a furious rally late, only to fall to the Invaders 5–4.

Despite gains in the regular season attendance and league-leading playoff attendance, the 1988 off-season was again troublesome for the franchise. Looking to stem the flow of red ink, Hartman restructured the Flames into the only registered not-for-profit sports franchise in the nation. The off-season saw an intense fund-raising operation that included GM Mahlock and players Alan Bodenstein and Bobby Poursanidis living atop a billboard in the heart of downtown to raise both team awareness and funding. The results were impressive as hundreds of fans purchased stock in the team and 27 prominent local business leaders invested in the team to make up the new board of directors.

When DiBernardo decided to leave coaching, the team turned to former MISL standout defenseman Dave MacKenzie to be the fourth Head Coach of the franchise. Entering the position as the (then) all-time leader in MISL games played and with a reputation as a hard-nosed, physical player, the team showed marked improvement under MacKenzie, but continued to struggle in close games. Looking to add some extra spark, MacKenzie became the second player/Coach of the franchise as he activated himself and played in 27 games. Despite improving to a .500 record (20–20) the team missed the playoffs by one game.

The team folded following the 1989 season. Under separate ownership, Fort Wayne was awarded an expansion franchise Indiana Kick, which lasted one additional season (1989–1990).

Year-by-year

Year GP W L % GB GF GA ATT AVE PLAYOFFS
1986–87 42 13 29 .325 14 157 218 47,647 2,269 Did not qualify
1987–88 24 9 15 .375 7 99 112 29,521 2,460 N/A
1988 (Chall. Cup) 12 8 4 .667 1 71 51 25,307 4,218 Challenge Cup runner-up
1988–89 40 20 20 .500 5 337 299 74,840 3,742 Did not qualify

Head coaches

FORT WAYNE FLAMES HEAD COACHES
NAME SEASON RECORD
Cliff Brown 1986–87 2–3
Tom Alioto 1986–87 (5 games into 1986–87 season) 11–26
Angelo DiBernardo 1987–88 9–15
1988 Challenge Cup 8–4
Dave MacKenzie 1988–89 20–20

Players statistics (regular season)

FORT WAYNE FLAMES PLAYERS (regular season)
NAME SEASONS GAMES GOALS * ASSIST POINTS * SHOTS BLOCKS FOULS PIM
Tom Alioto 1986–87 42 9 15 24 92 51 54 6
Ricardo Alonso 1988–89 19 13 12 25 88 14 54 4
Lenny Armuth 1986–87 22 4 2 6 17 19 32 10
Todd Barrett 1986–87 13 1 1 2 21 12 32 12
Ron Basile 1986–87 22 12 9 21 83 3 50 10
Bill Becher 1987–89 32 6 3 9 34 7 40 1
Steve Boardman 1988–89 21 2 3 5 12 16 26 1
Alan Bodenstein 1986–89 103 23 25 48 210 117 147 32
David Caetano 1987–88 9 0 0 0 8 2 5 0
Paul DiBernardo 1986–89 83 50 27 77 305 55 143 33
Dean Duerst 1986–87 14 2 0 2 21 9 13 6
Mike Farmer 1988–89 8 1 0 1 2 0 5 0
Horst Fleps 1986–87 7 0 1 1 7 2 1 0
Kevin Flynn 1986–87 7 0 1 1 18 12 10 4
Peter Forde 1986–87 5 0 2 2 13 3 10 0
Chance Fry 1986–87 18 7 5 12 32 14 45 8
Keith Fulk 1987–89 39 11 9 20 88 48 65 12
Frank Gallo 1986–87 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Gardner 1988–89 8 0 0 0 1 2 5 0
Oscar Gomez 1987–88 5 0 1 1 1 1 5 0
Manuel Gorrity 1986–88 35 6 4 10 45 25 60 16
Chris Hellenkamp 1987–89 62 30 33 63 206 46 68 8
Jamie Hutchins 1986–87 4 1 0 1 2 2 7 0
Peter Jecker 1988–89 26 7 4 11 34 19 30 3
Larry Julius 1987–88 16 2 7 9 52 17 27 8
Paul Kato 1987–88 8 2 1 3 21 26 22 4
Ken Killingsworth 1986–88 49 27 27 54 136 23 62 10
Kris Klassen 1986–87 3 0 0 0 0 0 1
Tim Larkin 1988–89 19 4 3 7 19 16 23 2
Warren Lipka 1986–89 60 0 4 4 4 1 9 21
Keith Loeffler 1986–87 5 1 2 3 12 2 6 4
Mark Lugris 1986–87 42 11 22 33 129 37 64 6
Dave MacKenzie 1988–89 27 4 5 9 22 11 17 3
Tom Mollerup 1986–87 36 3 5 8 35 25 35 2
Jorge Montoya 1987–89 50 6 9 15 54 83 125 8
Mike Noonan 1986–88 37 2 5 7 19 74 65 8
Dan O’Keefe 1986–88 65 49 18 67 257 9 70 2
Otto Orf 1986–89 59 1 7 8 8 0 12 26
Carlos Pena 1988–89 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bronn Pfeiffer 1987–89 36 1 3 4 33 27 30 4
Bob Poursanidis 1986–89 104 28 20 48 208 58 114 11
Randy Prescott 1987–89 60 15 13 28 152 111 93 12
Ed Puskarich 1986–87 17 2 0 2 8 18 21 2
Bob Ramsey 1986–87 21 6 8 14 68 6 42 4
Neil Ridgway 1987–89 62 46 21 67 169 39 80 9
Martin Rincon 1987–89 14 3 3 6 34 28 26 8
Rob Ryerson 1988–89 26 6 5 11 28 6 40 2
Carlos Salguero 1987–89 60 35 25 60 290 28 109 12
Joe Schmid 1986–87 7 0 1 1 1 11 7 2
Todd Smith 1988–89 39 4 8 12 33 39 91 9
Mike Sotello 1987–88 4 0 1 1 0 1 1 0
Bill Stallings 1986–87 10 1 0 1 9 3 9 2
Chris Tolken 1986–87 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Graham West 1986–87 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Players statistics (playoffs)

FORT WAYNE FLAMES PLAYERS (1988 Challenge Cup)
NAME GAMES GOALS * ASSIST POINTS * SHOTS BLOCKS FOULS PIM
Bill Becher 11 4 1 5 7 4 7 0
Bruce Bellenger 7 0 0 0 6 0 4 2
Alan Bodenstein 12 1 4 5 18 14 19 4
David Caetano 2 1 0 1 5 0 2 0
Paul DiBernardo 12 7 8 15 45 2 20 4
Keith Fulk 12 8 6 14 26 16 17 6
Chris Hellenkamp 11 5 5 10 35 7 6 2
Larry Julius 12 7 5 12 40 21 21 4
Paul Kato 8 2 2 4 16 15 16 6
Warren Lipka 9 0 1 1 0 0 0 2
Joe Mihaljevic 12 2 1 3 17 4 15 2
Jorge Montoya 6 0 0 0 1 2 6 4
Dan O’Keefe 11 14 7 21 59 0 8 2
Otto Orf 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Bronn Pfeiffer 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 0
Bob Poursanidis 5 1 0 1 7 1 2 0
Randy Prescott 12 2 7 9 32 8 16 6
Neil Ridgway 12 12 6 18 34 4 11 4
Martin Rincon 11 2 2 4 15 14 16 2
Carlos Salguero 6 3 7 10 29 1 5 0

See also