BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Alex Barber tallied his first career multi-goal game, but the Central Illinois Flying Aces yielded the go-ahead goal with less than six minutes left in regulation in a 5-4 loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Friday night at Grossinger Motors Arena.
Barber (Bowling Green State University) tallied twice in the third period to pull Central Illinois (12-33-5, 29 points) even at four, but Wyatt Bongiovanni scored with 5:59 left in the game to give the Lumberjacks (26-20-2, 54 points) the win in the series opener.
Central Illinois trailed by two goals on three separate occasions in the game but fought back to knot the game in the first seven minutes of the third frame. Facing a 4-2 deficit after two periods, the Flying Aces received a big boost in the third stanza from Barber. The Dublin, Ohio, native beat Muskegon goaltender Keegan Karki with a shot from the low left circle three minutes, 30 seconds into the third to cut the Flying Aces’ deficit to one. Less than four minutes later, Barber shoveled home a rebound from the slot to draw the game even at four.
Jeremy Davidson (University of Massachusetts) and Brady Meyer (University of Minnesota Duluth) also tabbed goals for the Flying Aces. Davidson netted a power-play marker in the first period, finishing off a feed from Calen Kiefiuk (University of Michigan) on a zone rush to whittle the deficit to 2-1. Meyer smacked a rebound past Karki in the middle of the second period for his first USHL goal to make it a 3-2 game.
Central Illinois forwards Nick Capone (University of Maine) and Ilya Usau (University of Connecticut) made their USHL debuts in the game.
Barber’s multi-goal game was the first of his career. Barber's second goal was the Flying Aces' second power-play score of the night, as Central Illinois finished 2-for-5 on the man advantage.
Central Illinois aims for the series split with Muskegon on Saturday night. Saturday night is St. Patrick’s Night and will feature a Flying Aces t-shirt giveaway for the first 500 fans courtesy of Zozzaro Chiropractic and Rehab. The Flying Aces will wear custom St. Patrick’s jerseys that fans can win through a silent auction during the game. Tickets start as low as $8 on Saturday night.
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.