BLOG: All Roads Lead to Chicago for College Teammates | Day 4

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It’s the last time these four groups will hit the ice at different times before Friday’s scrimmage, and the excitement of Blackhawks prospects couldn’t be higher as players off the ice s crowded onto the pews to watch their acquaintances go about their business for the day. .

Here are all the updates you need before dev camp ends on Friday.

TEAMMATES ELSEWHERE BECOME TEAMMATES IN CHICAGO

On a chilly April morning in South Bend, Indiana, Ryder Rolston peered out the window at the quaint Notre Dame campus that had become his home over the past year. As he sat in class with his Fighting Irish teammates, he couldn’t stop his mind from wandering. It was NHL trade deadline day, after all.

As if in a dream, Rolston’s phone started vibrating in his pocket, and the name he saw light up on the screen prompted him to get up from his seat and walk out, leaving his friends back in class curious and I am patient.

Moments later, Rolston calmly sat back in his chair, suppressing a smile as he woke up his computer screen and began typing as if nothing had happened. As he felt his teammates stare at him, searching for a gleam in his eyes or some sort of a reaction, a simple one-word message from Rolston came: “CHICAGO!”

“Everyone was wondering what was going on,” Rolston said. “I come back into the room, and I just got traded, and I remember I was on my computer while everyone was taking notes. I just typed in all caps, ‘Chicago,’ it was hilarious.”

Although that day was tough for Rolston, who was originally selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round at 139e overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, to contain his excitement seeing as he would join fellow Fighting Irishman Landon Slaggert in the Blackhawks prospect pool, the elation was hard to contain even as he remembered that day- there from his locker at the development camp in Chicago.

Rolston and Slaggert, third round, 79e The Blackhawks’ overall selection from that same 2020 NHL Draft, however, isn’t the only set of collegiate teammates in attendance at Fifth Third Arena this week. Three members of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs team also dress in red and white this week in defensemen Wyatt Kaiser and Connor Kelley, as well as this year’s sixth round, 173rd overall choice, Dominic James.

For these prospects from two well-known and respected college hockey programs – both of which reached their regional finals in the NCAA’s Frozen Four Tournament last spring – having familiar faces to lean on during camp makes the experience even more memorable.

“It means everything to have them here,” James said. “Connor is one of my best friends so he made it really easy and then [Kaiser] is obviously one of my very good friends. He’s my roommate and we went to our Junior World Championships together. It’s just great to have them here, they make things so much easier. Getting drafted in Chicago is something special because it’s Original Six and very close to home. It’s all surreal.”

While the dynamics of a pro development camp are somewhat difficult for these guys to compare to their college hockey lives, they all said the experience is something that just adds to those existing relationships. and create new ones.

“It makes it a little easier for me,” Kaiser said. “You’re more comfortable because you know people here, and they already know people, so it’s like a little chain. It’s been great.”

Whether the memories relate to bus rides and team meals or as with James, receiving texts and calls from Kaiser and Kelley immediately after his name was called in the draft, having a close support system while still Preparing for a professional career is something that every prospect highly values. . According to Rolston, the unique bond that has only been born of friendships on and off the ice speaks to the special brotherhood that hockey can provide as they work collectively for the NHL.

“Just being together every day, going to school and going to the rink, that’s what created this bond,” Rolston said. “But it’s a pro feel here, obviously there’s no school, no campus. I mean, that’s the dream: you’re in an NHL locker room, and in a sense, that’s what makes it different. It was great to be able to experience it and see it and just have that taste because that’s what’s going to make us want to get here.”

WHAT BLACKHAWKS GMS SAY
  • Kyle Davidson, General Manager: “It’s been a very busy week with free agency stuck in the middle, but we’re very impressed. Really impressed and excited about the size, the competition, the skating there, the excitement. It’s really positive. It was nice to get to know the players a bit more on a personal level, there are a lot of really motivated, excited and enthusiastic people. You get them at the draft and you get excited, and you get here and you see them a little closer and in person and you get even more excited. »
  • Mark Eaton, Deputy General Manager of Development: “Every one of them, they just want to improve. It’s almost like they don’t care what it is, they [say], ‘What can I do to maximize my potential?’ That’s the goal of much of this week, to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses and how they’ll develop over the next few years and maximize their chances of advancing to the NHL. Whether it’s video analysis, face-to-face conversations on the ice with small techniques and tactics, it’s a combination of all of these. But these guys just want to get the best out of themselves.”
LOOK AHEAD

To complete development camp, the prospects will take to the ice around 10 a.m. for a 5-on-5 scrimmage consisting of two 25-minute periods.

Live stream links and rosters for the scrimmage will be available on Blackhawks.com on Friday morning, so stay tuned to see who walks away with the Anderson Cup trophy for the week.

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