NHL: Former Peoria youth hockey player signs $50 million extension – Peoria Journal Star

PEORIA — Tage Thompson completed a journey from throwing checks as a kid at Owens Center to cashing a massive one as an NHL superstar this week.
The Peoria Youth Hockey Association product signed a seven-year, $50 million contract extension with the Buffalo Sabres, well-earned after his 38-goal season last year.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound center played four years in Peoria’s youth hockey program at Owens Center, with little brother Tyce Thompson alongside, from 2005-06 through 2008-09.
They were in Peoria while their father, ex-NHLer Brent Thompson, served as an assistant coach for the Peoria Rivermen during that span while the team was the top farm for the St. Louis Blues in the American Hockey League.
More:First NHL goal for Tage Thompson completes path that included time in Peoria youth hockey
Brent Thompson became head coach at AHL Bridgeport, while his sons both reached the NHL. The Blues made Tage Thompson their No. 1 pick in 2016.
Tyce Thompson has played nine games for New Jersey on call-ups over the last two seasons.
Buffalo guy. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/xvuowPAc9y
“My love for the game, my NHL dream all really started up in Peoria,” Tage Thompson said in a 2017 Journal Star story after becoming the first Peoria amateur product to reach the NHL and score his first goal. “That was where it all seemed to come together for me.”
The Thompson brothers were fixtures at Owens Center, where they played in the PYHA program, and at Carver Arena, where they were around their father and the Rivermen. Often, they’d run around the tunnels underneath the Carver Arena grandstand, and skate on the ice after Rivermen games until their father had to implore them to pack it up.
“The most active I’ve been in hockey in my life was during those years in Peoria,” Tage Thompson said in 2017. “We had hockey camps, youth hockey practices, hanging out at Rivermen games and in the locker room there. It seemed like we were in one of those two places every moment.”
Eric Johnson was a dominating defensive lineman for the Peoria Pirates when they operated as a two-time championship team and reached title games four times in their 10 years of play in the Indoor Football League and af2 under coach Bruce Cowdrey.
Johnson has a son, Eric Johnson II. On Tuesday, he extended his father’s football legacy in a big way, earning a spot on the Indianapolis Colts final 53-man roster as the NFL cutdown deadline arrived.
Born in Normal, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive lineman was a fifth-round pick by the Colts in the 2022 NFL Draft.
First look at our initial 53-man roster.. pic.twitter.com/OjizhdXJKi
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.


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