BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Central Illinois Flying Aces defeated the Chicago Steel, 6 to 3, in their first game back from Christmas break. Five different Aces recorded two-point games on the way to victory.
Matteo Pietroniro scored for the Steel at 3:14 in the first, five seconds after a Chicago power play had expired. He moved towards the left circle until the Steel were able to establish a net-front screen and then Pietroniro scored.
The Aces got on the board at 14:19 in the first. Chad Hillebrand (Skokie, Ill.) stole the puck back from Chicago on the forecheck and passed it to Jon Panisa (Irvine, Calif.). Panisa spun around and found Lynden Breen (Grand Bay-Westfield, NB) alone in the high slot. Breen quickly wristed the puck top-shelf as two Chicago defenders were closing in to tie the game at one.
On the power play during the second, Breen won a puck battle in the corner and passed to Jeremy Davidson (Schoolcraft, Mich.) at the top of the other circle. Davidson shot the puck on net. The Chicago goaltender made the initial save, but Philippe Lapointe (Burr Ridge, Ill.) found the loose puck and pushed it to the back of the net for the first Aces lead of the night.
Less than twenty seconds later, Central Illinois scored their third of the game. Colby Enns (Minot, ND) took the puck behind the Aces net and passed out the Trevor Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.). Janicke passed over to Cal Kiefiuk (Macomb, Mich.) as they were entering the zone. They drove their lanes and Kiefiuk passed back to Janicke for a deft deflection goal at 7:16 in the second.
At 4:52 in the third, Chicago broke away on a two-on-one. Mitchell Gibson (Phoenixville, Penn.) made the initial save for the Aces with an outstretched pad, but Neil Shea was able to lift the rebound over Gibson’s pad.
Stephen Halliday (Toronto, Ont.) restored the two-goal lead at 9:11 in the third. Chicago failed to clear and Lapointe jumped on the loose puck. He passed to Janicke who found Halliday alone on the backdoor for the redirection goal.
At 10:17 in the third, Sebastian Dirven (Cornwall, Ont.) drove the puck end to end and found Tate Singleton (West Lebanon, NH) at the front of the net. Singleton’s initial shot was stopped, but he put his own rebound into the back of the net to make it 5 to 2.
The Steel scored on the power play when Shea got his second of the night off a rebound at 18:24 in the third.
Hillebrand iced the game with an empty net goal. Gibson stopped 30 of 33 shots faced as he backstopped the Aces to the win.
Next weekend, Central Illinois hosts the Omaha Lancers on Friday, January 4th, for Blackhawks and Blues Rivalry Night. The following night (Sat., Jan. 5th), they’ll take on the Chicago Steel again during Star Wars Night.
Season tickets 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.
ABOUT THE FLYING ACES
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.