BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Central Illinois Flying Aces executed on Wednesday a trade with the Youngstown Phantoms that involved five players, two affiliate list players and a pair of draft picks.
Tuesday was the date of the USA Hockey trade and drop deadline, as the Flying Aces acquired defensemen Zach Metsa and Andrew Petrillo and forward Alex Barber in exchange for defensemen Mike Callahan and Jason Smallidge, a deal that was finalized on Wednesday.
Metsa, a 5-foot-9, 186-pound defenseman, is in his first full season in the United States Hockey League. The Quinnipiac University commit has played in all 37 of Youngstown’s games this season and is tied for the team’s lead in scoring among rear guards with 13 points. Metsa earned the USHL Defenseman of the Week honor on Oct. 16.
Another defenseman, Petrillo brings two seasons of USHL experience to the Flying Aces defensive corps. A University of Vermont commit, Petrillo has seen ice time in 36 games this season for Youngstown and has tabbed nine points on a goal and eight assists. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound right-handed shot recorded three points last season in 27 games with the Phantoms.
Barber, a native of Dublin, Ohio, will help bolster Central Illinois’ offensive depth. A 5-foot-9, 159-pound center, Barber has recorded seven points on three goals and four assists in 32 games this season with the Phantoms. The Bowling Green State University commit is a 1999-born player and still has two more seasons of eligibility in the USHL after this season. Barber will play off of the Flying Aces’ affiliate list.
In addition to acquiring three players, the Flying Aces also received a first-round pick in the 2018 USHL Phase II Draft from the Phantoms in return for Central Illinois second-round pick in the 2018 USHL Phase II Draft. The two teams also swapped affiliates in the transaction, with Central Illinois trading affiliate forward Gabriel Malek and receiving Youngstown affiliate defenseman Brandon Cimino.
Central Illinois also made a separate transaction on the day of the USA Hockey trade and drop deadline, sending forward Griffin Lunn to the Sioux Falls Stampede in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2018 USHL Phase II Draft.
The USHL’s trade deadline is on Feb. 26, and only one-to-one deals can be made until that date.
All three acquired players are expected to be in the lineup tonight as Central Illinois hosts the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at 7:07 p.m. at Grossinger Motors Arena. Tickets start as low as $8 and can be purchased online at flyingaceshockey.com/tickets or by calling the Flying Aces at 309-434-2980.
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.