BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS — The Central Illinois Flying Aces broke a 3-3 tie with two goals early in the third period and held off a late rush by the Chicago Steel to win 6-4 Saturday night at Grossinger Motors Arena. The Steel (17-12-1-0, 35 pts.) briefly led the game in the second period, but the Flying Aces (15-13-2-0, 32 pts.) tied the game near the end of the frame and added three more tallies in the third to carry the momentum to victory.
Central Illinois opened the scoring at the 7:18 mark of the first period when forward Trevor Janicke took advantage of a Chicago turnover and finished off a great passing play with fellow forwards Cal Kiefiuk and Philippe LaPointe.
Chicago was able to even things up with just 3.7 seconds remaining in the period when center Nick Abruzzese finished off a two-on-one with right wing Neil Shea. The goal was Abruzzese’s third of the weekend and kept him in stride with Waterloo’s Matej Blümel who leads the USHL with 38 points (18-20-38). Abruzzese now has 37 (11-26-37).
Kiefiuk scored a goal of his own 3:24 into the second period as he came streaking into the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot past the left side of Chicago goaltender Reilly Herbst.
The Steel again clawed back to tie the game thanks to left wing Christian Sarlo’s tenacious effort in front of the net. After right wing Travis Treloar found him on the doorstep, Sarlo’s shot was saved by Flying Aces goaltender Mitchell Gibson but Sarlo was able to jam home his own rebound to tie the game.
Chicago’s only lead came just past the midway point of the game when defenseman John Spetz beat Gibson on another rebound goal, this time off an initial jam shot from left wing Josh Groll. The goal was Spetz’s fifth of the season, giving him 16 points in 30 games.
With the clock winding down in the period, Central Illinois forward Tate Singleton stole a breakout pass from a Steel defenseman and beat Herbst over the shoulder on a tough-angle shot to tie the game at three with 27 seconds left in the second.
Singleton scored 3:11 into the third period to give the Flying Aces the lead for good. His pass attempt to the front of the net deflected off a Steel player and past an unsuspecting Herbst. Central Illinois made it a 5-3 game less than two minutes later with a powerplay goal.
The Steel tried to rally late, and immediately after Herbst left the ice for the extra attacker, Abruzzese found Shea alone in front of the net where he chipped a shot over the blocker of Gibson to pull the Steel to within one with 2:43 to play.
Chicago kept the net empty in an attempt to tie the game late but with 17 seconds remaining Kiefiuk delivered the dagger with an empty net goal.
The Steel return to Fox Valley Ice Arena for a pair of home games next weekend. Friday, Jan. 11 is a 7:05 p.m. faceoff against Youngstown for So Canada Night and a Raising Cane’s Kids Day. Kids 12 and younger can receive a Red Zone ticket, Steel drawstring bag and free Raising Cane’s kid’s combo card for just $10.
Chicago then hosts Green Bay on Saturday, Jan, 12 in another 7:05 p.m. faceoff for Star Wars Night and a Steel Family Pack game. The Steel Family Pack features four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, and four chuck-a-pucks starting at just $48. The Steel Family Pack must be purchased in advance as it is not available on the day of the game.
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.