GENEVA, Ill. — Jeremy Davidson registered his third consecutive two-goal game, but the Chicago Steel rallied for the final three goals of the game to come from behind to top the Central Illinois Flying Aces, 7-5, on Friday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Davidson (University of Massachusetts) posted a three-point night, giving him nine points in his last three games, but Central Illinois (14-39-6, 34 points) couldn’t hang on to two separate one-goal leads in the first game of a home-and-home series with the Steel (27-25-7, 61 points).
With Central Illinois leading 5-4 in the third period, Chicago scored three straight, including two in a 25-second span to take the lead for good. Nick Abruzzese tied the game at five at the 7:19 mark of the third period off a feed from Jack Dugan. Dugan then notched the game-winning goal on a breakaway with 6:53 remaining in regulation, before Samuel Bucek added an insurance tally with a rebound goal less than 30 seconds later.
Chicago opened the scoring late in the first period with a power-play goal on its third man advantage of the game. After Bucek’s one-time shot missed the net wide, Aaro Vidgren collected the loose puck behind the goal and fed Baker Shore in the low slot. Shore tapped the feed past Flying Aces goaltender Zach Stejskal (31 saves) with 3:39 left in the first.
Central Illinois tied the game in the first five minutes of the second period on a power-play goal of its own. Zach Metsa (Quinnipiac University) received a pass from Calen Kiefiuk (University of Michigan) and ripped a blast from the right point that beat Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins top shelf.
The Steel pulled back ahead with a pair of goals in a span of three minutes, 19 seconds near the middle of the frame. Robert Mastrosimone deflected in a backdoor feed from Conner Hutchison to give Chicago a 2-1 edge with 7:48 gone in the middle period. Matteo Pietroniro then made it a two-goal lead for the Steel with a power-play tally at the 11:07 mark of the second.
But Central Illinois stormed back with three goals in 57 seconds to earn its first lead of the game. Davidson picked up his first of the night with 3:15 to play in the second, jamming home a rebound to bring Central Illinois within one. Jacob Olbing converted from the left circle only 44 seconds later, his second goal of the season, to propel the Aces to their first lead. Brady Meyer (University of Minnesota Duluth) capped the three-goal flurry with his third of the season, a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Robbins far post.
Chicago tied the game on the power play less than a minute into the third stanza, but Davidson netted his second of the night to push Central Illinois back ahead, 5-4. Davidson curled to the high slot and ripped a bullet past Chicago’s Oskar Autio, who came on in relief of Robbins in the third period. With the goal, Davidson became the first player in team history to record multi-goal efforts in three straight games.
Central Illinois hosts the Steel on Saturday night in the regular season finale for both teams. Saturday night is Fan Appreciation Night with the Flying Aces, featuring hundreds of giveaways during the game and a free postgame skate with the team. Fans can also score on concessions deals, including $3 16-oz Bud and Bud Light drafts, $3 24-ounce sodas and $1 hot dogs. Tickets start as low as $8.
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.