BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The Central Illinois Flying Aces gave up the first eight goals of the contest as the Team USA Under-17 squad earned a 9-3 win on Friday at Grossinger Motors Arena.
Team USA (36-14-1, 73 points) struck first just 2:46 into the game when Judd Caulfield buried a feed at the doorstep from Matthew Boldy. The guests added to their lead slightly more than four minutes later at the 7:06 mark as Alex Vlasic converted a rebound from Ryder Rolston, who added a goal with 3:54 left on a wrister from the right circle assisted by Henry Thrun and Trevor Zeglas. Team USA completed the first-period scoring with 1:09 remaining on a rebound goal from the left circle by John Beecher assisted by Sean Farrell and Thrun.
Boldy tallied just 25 seconds into the second period on a power-play goal on a sharp-angle missile from the right wing on an assist from the high slot by Dominic Fensore, also assisted by Zegras, for a 5-0 lead. Two more Team USA goals just 26 seconds apart early in the middle chapter increased the lead to 7-0 on tallies by Danny Weight and John Farinacci. Rolston found a loose puck immediately in front of the net and slammed it home with 9:35 showing for an 8-0 lead.
The Flying Aces (13-35-5, 31 points) finally lit the lamp when Max Andreev (Cornell University) cleaned up a doorstep rebound from a Calen Kiefiuk (University of Michigan) drive to the net with 7:46 left, and Wojciech Stachowiak (Michigan State Univesity) scored in similar fashion on an assist from Corson Green (University of New Hampshire) with 6:10 remaining. The Aces scored their third straight goal with 1:52 left before the second intermission on a Kiefiuk tally from Andreev and Steven Agriogianis (Penn State University) to cut the deficit to 8-3 at the break.
Zegras deflected a toss to the net into the back of the goal with 7:41 left in regulation to increase the national team’s lead to 9-3.
Team USA goaltender Drew DeRidder earned the win with 24 saves while Ryan Snowden (Ohio State University) took the loss with five saves during the first period. Team USA was 1-for-2 on the power play while the Flying Aces did not score in two chances.
The squads rematch at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at Grossinger Motors Arena with Flying Aces team photos for the first 1,000 fans. The game can be heard at mixlr.com/ciflyingaces and in the arena at 93.7 FM, and viewed via subscription at HockeyTV.
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.