BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS —Central Illinois twice scored a pair of goals in succession that proved too much for Chicago to overcome in a 6-3 Flying Aces victory Friday night at Grossinger Motors Arena. Central Illinois (13-13-2-0, 28 pts.) scored a pair of goals 17 seconds apart in the second period and 66 seconds apart in the third to pick up its first win against Chicago (15-10-1-0, 31 pts) this season in the fourth meeting between the teams.
Chicago struck first 3:14 into the contest when defenseman Matteo Pietroniro beat Central Illinois goaltender Mitchell Gibson seconds after a Steel powerplay ended. The play started as left wing Robert Mastrosimone entered the zone and found center Nick Abruzzese with the puck who immediately dropped it to Pietroniro. The Steel captain was able to add to his USHL-leading 10th goal of the season among defenseman when he weaved to the slot and fired the puck through three bodies to beat Gibson. Abruzzese’s assist was his 30th of the season, extending his point streak to three games (2-5-7). He has registered a point in 19 of 26 games this season.
The Flying Aces found the equalizer with 5:41 to play in the first period when forward Lynden Breen fired a perfectly placed wrist shot past the glove of Steel goaltender Justin Robbins. Central Illinois controlled possession for a half minute in the offensive zone after forward Jon Panisa entered and eventually found Breen alone at the top of the far faceoff circle.
Central Illinois struck for two goals in a span of 17 seconds midway through the second period beginning with forward Philippe Lapointe’s fifth of the season 6:59 into the frame. On the following shift, forward Trevor Janicke scored his eight of the season as he neatly deflected a give-and-go pass from forward Cal Kiefiuk over the glove of Robbins.
The Steel cut the lead to 3-2 with 15:08 to play in the game when Abruzzese picked up a goal of his own. The Harvard commit won a faceoff in his defensive zone and sprung right wing Neil Shea on a two-on-one break and finished off a net-front scramble. Shea was credited with an assist, extending his point streak to four games (2-5-7).
But the quick-strike Flying Aces offense struck again midway through the third as they picked up a pair of goals within 66 seconds to put the game away with goals from defenseman Stephen Halliday and forward Tate Singleton.
Shea scored a goal of his own with 1:36 to play when he sent a loose puck past Gibson on the powerplay. The Northeastern University commit started the play as he found center Adam Robbins with a cross-rink pass before finishing off a rebound. Flying Aces forward Chad Hillebrand scored an empty net goal with 17 seconds to play to cap the scoring.
The Steel are back on home ice for the final time in 2018 as they host Team USA Saturday, Dec. 29 for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff at Fox Valley Ice Arena. The game features a Jurassic Rusty Bobblehead Doll Giveaway for the first 500 fans in attendance as well as a post-game Skate with the Steel. Chicago closes out the calendar year with a New Year’s Eve game in Muskegon set for a 7:15 p.m. CT faceoff before playing seven of nine January games on home ice.
Tickets for all Steel home games are on sale now starting at just $10 and stadium seating on the glass is available for just $20. Parking is always free. The Steel offer discounted tickets for groups and are offering a special Holiday Pack, which includes three games and four gifts for just $40.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.