BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Central Illinois Flying Aces earned a hard-fought point in its season finale on Saturday night in front of a season-high crowd of 1,810 at Grossinger Motors Arena.
Central Illinois (14-39-7, 35 points) fought back to tie the game at one in the late stages of the second period, which eventually forced overtime, but fell short in a four-round shootout in the 2-1 loss.
The Steel (28-25-7, 63 points) struck first with 9:05 left in the first period when Jack Dugan went coast to coast and dunked a wraparound inside the left post.
But the Flying Aces bounced back to tie the score at one with 2:02 left in the second period of the low-scoring affair. During a 5-on-3 power play, Zach Metsa (Quinnipiac University) ripped a one-timer from the high slot on a feed from Calen Kiefiuk (University of Michigan) also assisted by Jeremy Davidson (University of Massachusetts).
After a scoreless third period and overtime, just one shootout goal decided the game as Tim Clifton went stickside in the fourth round to give the Steel the victory.
Chicago’s Oskar Autio earned the win in net with 27 saves. Ryan Snowden (Ohio State University) took the shootout loss with 16 stops.
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.