BLOOMINGTON — Technically, the Central Illinois Flying Aces have the longest current home unbeaten streak in the USHL — although that consists of five games at two different rinks.
After winning the final three of their four-game temporary stay at Peoria’s Carver Arena, the Aces debuted at Grossinger Motors Arena two weeks ago by following a shootout loss with an overtime victory.
That 4-0-1 streak will be back on the line this weekend as Central Illinois hosts the Youngstown Phantoms for 7:07 p.m. faceoffs Friday and Saturday at the Arena.
Looking to shake off Saturday’s 5-0 road setback to the Team USA under-18 squad, the Aces carry a 7-6-1 overall record into the series. That includes a 2-0-1 mark against the Phantoms (7-5-3), who spoiled the Nov. 10 opener at Grossinger by rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period before snatching the shootout win.
Drew Elser scored one goal in each of the Aces’ three meetings with Youngstown and has six tallies on the season, one behind Jakub Lacka’s team lead. Lacka has 12 points to lead a quartet of Aces in double digits. Defenseman Sebastien Dirven will serve a one-game suspension Friday.
The Phantoms are coming off a 7-3 victory over Muskegon on Wednesday night in Youngstown. Eric Esposito scored twice during a five-goal outburst in the second period while leading scorer Matthew Barry (14 points) notched a goal and two assists.
Each game features a $1,000 giveaway, part of the team’s “Grand-A-Game” promotion for the first five contests at the Arena. Saturday is also the annual Teddy Bear Toss benefiting Toys for Tots of McLean County.