On a three-game goal streak to start the season, Drew Elser unknowingly alluded to two Paul McCartney-penned hits in describing his early success: “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “With a Little Luck.”
“My linemates are helping me out a lot, getting pucks to the net. It’s just going in right now for some reason,” said Elser, whose tallies have helped spark the Central Illinois Flying Aces to three straight wins and the best start in club history.
“I’ve gotten off to some hot starts before. It’s definitely exciting being in the USHL and off to a start like this.”
Elser and the Aces look to keep their streaks intact this weekend as they visit Madison on Friday and Cedar Rapids on Saturday for 7:05 p.m. faceoffs.
“I think we’ve just got to keep playing our game. Playing fast, playing simple and get pucks to the net,” said Elser, a 5-foot-10 rookie left wing committed to Connecticut. “Transition quick and we’ll be fine.”
The 17-year-old Elser currently is a non-roster affiliate player for the Aces. After going scoreless in three Bloomington Thunder games late last season, he admitted he’s trying to make people take notice.
“Definitely, a little bit,” he said. “It’s a big year for me, possibly going into school next year and it’s my draft year. It’s just a big year and hopefully I can turn some heads.”
So has he impressed first-year coach Mike Watt?
“Yeah, in his production,” said Watt. “He’s got ability and speed and pace that we need in our lineup. He’s been reaping the rewards of how he’s been playing and what he’s been bringing to the lineup, by going hard to the net and using his speed to create chances.”
Each of Elser’s goals has come with an assist from center Max Andreev, who leads the team with five total points — a goal and five helpers.
“We’re mixing well together and the chemistry is good,” Elser said of his linemate from Moscow.
“Max, in our lineup, he could be one of the easiest guys to play with in terms of how he plays the game and what he brings in terms of intangibles,” said Watt. “He’s been very good on draws and very good playing in the (defensive) zone and creating turnovers.
“Max is somebody we can put anywhere in the lineup and we feel comfortable.”
Last weekend, the Aces posted a 3-2 win at Green Bay that saw the Gamblers score their second goal with less than a second to play.
“That’s a lack of execution and maybe a lack of a mindset of finishing a game,” said Watt. “We have to be aware of playing 60 minutes full and not 59:59. Sixty minutes, and if we have to go further than that we go further than that.”
Both Madison and Cedar Rapids enter the weekend at 1-2-0. The Capitols are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over Green Bay while the RoughRiders, who host Lincoln on Friday, suffered a 5-1 home loss to Omaha.
“Any game in this league is a tough game; there’s no freebies because of the parity," said Watt. “I think both games are going to be good matchups. It’s going to come down to execution, who wants the game more and who’s ready and willing to play 60 or 60-plus minutes to get the two points.”