BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Central Illinois Flying Aces edge past the Chicago Steel, 6 to 4 in a high-scoring affair as the Aces hosted Star Wars Night. Cal Kiefiuk (Macomb, Mich.) and Philippe Lapointe (Burr Ridge, Ill.) posted three-point nights in the victory.
Midway though the first period, Kiefiuk had his shot blocked, but he quickly recovered and stole the puck back. The Michigan commit fed the puck across the slot to Lapointe. Lapointe made sure the puck crossed the royal road again as he found Trevor Janicke (Maple Grove, Minn.) on the backdoor. The captain one-timed the puck into the gaping net to get the Aces on the board first.
Nick Abruzzese stole the puck for the Steel and executed a give-and-go with Robert Mastrosimone to score for Chicago with just three seconds remaining in the first.
3:24 into the second period, Lapointe made a stretch pass from the defensive zone to Kiefiuk on the other blue line. Kiefiuk entered the zone and wristed the puck past the netminder to break the tie. Sebastian Dirven (Cornwall, Ont.) also assisted on the goal.
Shortly after a faceoff, Chicago tied the game after Mitchell Gibson (Phoenixville, Penn.) stopped a flurry shots, but Christian Sarlo snuck around the back of the net and put the rebound top-shelf at 5:02 in the second.
Chicago took their first lead of the game 11:08 into the second. Gibson stopped the first shot, but the puck trickled through the crease and John Spetz put it into the net past Gibson’s outstretched pad.
With less than a minute to go in the second, the Steel were trying to exit their own zone, but Tate Singleton (West Lebanon, NH) stole the puck and spun around at the blue line to remain onside. The Ohio State commit muscled his way past two defenders and put the puck past the Chicago goaltender to tie the game, 3-3, in a phenomenal individual effort.
3:11 into the third, Singleton entered the zone and took the puck down low. He passed up to Ryan Siedem (Madison, NJ) at the point who quickly shot it. Siedem’s shot hit multiple bodies out in front, but Singleton was able to pick up the rebound and lift it over the goaltender’s pad for his second of the night and a 4-3 lead.
On the power play in the third, Lynden Breen (Grand Bay-Westfield, NB) shot the puck from the right circle. Stephen Halliday (Toronto, Ont.) tried to stuff the puck from the side of the net, but the Chicago netminder made the stop. However, Lapointe came in from the left circle and was able to poke the puck over the line.
With the net empty, Chicago made it a one goal game 17:17 into the third, when Nick Abruzzese passed from below the net to Neil Shea in the slot who one-timed the puck into the back of the net.
Kiefiuk stole the puck to clear the zone when Chicago again pulled their goaltender, but missed his initial empty net shot. He capitalized when Mastrosimone lost control of the puck and scored from a sharp angle to make it a final score of 6 to 4.
Gibson stopped 23 of 27 shots in the win.
Next weekend the Flying Aces travel to face Team USA in Plymouth, Michigan on Friday (Jan. 11) and Saturday (Jan. 12). On Sunday (Jan. 13), they face the Muskegon Lumberjacks in Muskegon. Their next home game is Monday, January 21st at 1:07 p.m. as they take on the Madison Capitols.
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.