DALLAS — The Central Illinois Flying Aces added to their list of NHL Draft picks on Saturday, as a team record four players with ties to the organization were selected at the 2018 NHL Draft at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Goaltender Mitchell Gibson highlighted the draftees, becoming the first goaltender in team history to be chosen at the NHL Draft, while a pair of former players, Mike Callahan and Tyler Madden, were chosen along with affiliate defenseman Peter Diliberatore.
Drafted in the fourth round, 124th overall by the Washington Capitals, Gibson will be the first NHL-drafted goaltender in team history to play for the organization in the season following his selection in the NHL Draft. A native of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Gibson was a member of the Flying Aces’ affiliate list during the 2017-18 season and competed at the Flying Aces’ 2018 Main Camp in early June.
Gibson, a Harvard University commit, stormed onto the scene in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) this past season with the Lone Star Brahmas, finishing with a league-best 1.59 goals-against-average and a .935 save percentage en route to being named the NAHL Rookie of the Year and Goaltender of the Year. Gibson also led the NAHL with 11 shutouts, five more than any other netminder in the league.
Gibson is the first goaltender with ties to the Flying Aces to be selected at the NHL Draft. He will become just the third player in team history to play for the team following his selection in the NHL Draft, joining defenseman Nikolas Koberstein (Montreal Canadiens, 2014) and Mitchell Mattson (Calgary Flames, 2016).
Prior to Gibson’s selection, the Vancouver Canucks chose former Flying Aces forward Tyler Madden with the 68th overall pick. The Northeastern University commit became the highest draft pick with ties to the organization, a distinction previously held by former defenseman Ben Mirageas who was picked in the third round, 77th overall by the New York Islanders at the 2017 NHL Draft. Madden played in 18 games for the Flying Aces at the start of the 2017-18 season, totaling 14 points on six goals and eight assists.
Callahan was the next player with Flying Aces ties off the board, as the Arizona Coyotes picked the defenseman in the fifth round, 142nd overall. The Providence College commit tabbed nine points in 37 games for the Flying Aces before being traded to the Youngstown Phantoms late in the season. He finished with 18 points (3G, 15A) in 59 regular season games and helped propel the Phantoms to the Clark Cup Final. A member of the 2018 USHL All-Rookie Team, Callahan was initially drafted by the then-Bloomington Thunder in the 2015 USHL Phase I Draft and competed in the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Diliberatore was the final selection with Flying Aces ties, drafted in the sixth round, 180th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. Chosen by the organization in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft, Diliberatore was a member of the Flying Aces’ affiliate list during the 2017-18 season. The Quinnipiac University commit recorded 17 points in 28 games for Salisbury School (USHS) this past season.
The four selections with Flying Aces ties are the most such picks at one NHL Draft in team history, surpassing the three picks with Flying Aces ties at the 2017 NHL Draft. There have now been nine players with ties to the organization selected all-time at the NHL Draft.
Season tickets and Mini Plans for the 2018-19 season are on sale now. For tickets or more information, call the Flying Aces at 309-434-2980 or visit www.flyingaceshockey.com.
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.