BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Central Illinois Flying Aces will have a team-record three players compete at the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, as the United States Hockey League and NHL Central Scouting announced on Wednesday the rosters for the game that will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 9 in Kearney, Nebraska.
Flying Aces defenseman Mike Callahan, forward Tyler Madden and goaltender Zach Stejskal will all play for Team East, a total that ties Central Illinois for the second-most representatives in the nine-team Eastern Conference. Including the three seasons the team was known as the Bloomington Thunder, the fourth-year USHL organization has now had five players in team history named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
A Providence College commit, Callahan headlines the Flying Aces trio named to the contest. In mid-November, Callahan received a ‘B’ rating on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list as a potential second-round or third-round candidate for the 2018 NHL Draft. The Franklin, Massachusetts, native also played in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in late September, a game reserved for the top 42 American-born, draft-eligible players. Callahan has played in all 18 games for Central Illinois this season and has posted two assists. The rookie rear guard tabbed 32 points in 25 games for Roxbury Latin Prep during the 2016-17 season.
The third overall pick by the Flying Aces in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft, Madden has been one of the most dynamic rookies in the USHL this season. The Northeastern University commit is third among rookie skaters in scoring with 14 points on six goals and eight assists. Madden was a ‘C’ rating on NHL Central Scouting’s most recent Players to Watch list as a fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round candidate for next June’s NHL Draft. The son of former NHL star John Madden posted 29 points in 26 games last season with Avon Old Farms School.
Stejskal is the first goaltender in team history named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. The University of Minnesota Duluth commit has played in 10 games this season and has compiled a 4-4-1 record with a 3.50 save percentage and a .875 goals-against-average. A ‘C’ rating by NHL Central Scouting, Stejskal helped guide the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks to the Class 2A Minnesota high school boys hockey state championship this past March.
The Tri-City Storm will host this year’s Top Prospects Game, which is in its sixth year all-time. NHL general managers, NHL Central Scouting and USHL general managers took part in the selection process to pick the 40 USHL players for the contest. All 40 players chosen are eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.
The Flying Aces play just once this upcoming weekend, as they travel to Plymouth, Michigan, for a Saturday night matchup with Team USA (U18). The two teams will meet at 6:05 p.m. (CST) at USA Hockey Arena.
Known as the Bloomington Thunder from 2014-17, the newly-rebranded Central Illinois Flying Aces are a member of the top junior hockey league in the United States, the United States Hockey League (USHL). The only Tier I junior hockey league in the country, the USHL has become renowned for developing the next stars of both Division I college hockey and the NHL. At the start of the 2017-18 season, there were 128 active USHL alumni on NHL rosters, with at least one USHL alumnus playing for each of the 31 teams. In total, there have been 253 USHL players who have gone onto NHL careers, including Patrick Sharp, David Backes, Johnny Gaudreau, and Joe Pavelski, among others. The players in the USHL range in age from 16-20-years old, 95 percent of whom will go on to play college hockey at the Division I level. For more information, visit flyingaceshockey.com or ushl.com or download the USHL Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.