CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Blackhawks training camp is in hurry-up mode with the start of the regular season only a week away. There are a lot of bodies to sift through to set the roster. A lot of those bodies are guys who suited up for the IceHogs just last season.
The Blackhawks training camp roster is always stacked with players who have spent ample time honing their skills in Rockford. This week that number is higher than normal and the players have a better shot of making their way onto the regular season roster than norma.
There are 14 players in all at camp who spent time in Rockford last year. Guys like Philipp Kurashev, Matthew Highmore, Brandon Hagle, John Quennville and MacKenzie Entwistle.
All three IceHogs goaltenders from last season are also at camp…Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matthew Tomkins. They’ll get a great shot to prove their worth. The Blackhawks desperately need some young guys to step up this season because the returning veterans need some help.
“I think you need young guys to play and you need to have young guys to be a big part of your team to have success,” said veteran defenseman Duncan Keith following practice on Tuesday. “You see that with other organizations that are successful that have young guys step in.”
All of the young guys are being monitored closely by Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton.
“These young guys we’re talking about they’re all at different spots in their progression. It’s up to us to manage that and do everything we can to help them get better.”
Among the IceHogs from last season who have the best shot at making the Blackhawks’ roster is forward Branden Hagle. He was the IceHogs’ MVP putting together a stellar rookie season. He had 31 points and four game-winning goals.
Highmore played 21 games with the IceHogs last season and 32 with the Blackhawks. His goal is to take that next step up at the NHL level.
“There’s always tons of room for improvement. For me just continuing to kind of build my game.”
And of course Jeremy Colliton is a former IceHog having coached in Rockford. In his two-plus seasons in Chicago he’s had to deal with a pandemic, a restructuring of the front office, and now the absence of his team captain Jonathan Toews. Colliton says it all reminds him of some advice he got when he took the job.
“Expect the unexpected.” “Being steady-as-she-goes, on an even keel and just try to react the best you can to any given situation.”