During IceHogs training camp, invitee Arthur Bidwill will give fans his perspective of a player competing in Rockford’s AHL camp under a try-out agreement. Arthur was born in Oak Park, Ill. and grew up in Fontana, Wis. The defenseman is entering his second pro season and has a contract with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles for the 2013-14 season. Stayed tuned to IceHogs.com for videos and blog posts from Arthur’s experience at IceHogs training camp.
I woke up at about 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, I had set my alarm for 8:30. I was starting to get anxious the night before and it definitely carried over. We arrived at the rink for a 10:15 a.m. skate and you could definitely tell it was game day. The passes were crisp and the legs were going. The anticipation for the night’s game was continually growing.
A group of invitees went for pasta for pre-game meal where we mostly avoided talking about the upcoming game. A lot of the times during the season, thinking too much about hockey can be counterproductive. For me this was especially difficult given the circumstances. After the meal I was ready for my pre-game nap almost immediately! Nothing makes me tired like a morning skate and a big meal.
It was 3:00 p.m. and time to wake up and get my head right for the game at West Meadows. We all loaded onto the bus around 3:30 to begin what seemed like the longest 45 minute bus ride I’ve ever had. This was nothing a little country music couldn’t handle. Some players listen to rap or heavy metal. Over the years I have learned that I stay on a more even keel if I listen to music that is a little bit tamer.
We got to the rink about two hours before game time and everyone was into their pre-game routines. Most players joined into a game of two-touch (elimination soccer game) to get the blood flowing. I usually spend some time alone and do a quick run through of plays I’m used to seeing. This is basically an excuse to not play two-touch. I am awful at it and usually get knocked out in the first 2-3 minutes. Very frustrating!
After a few meetings it was finally game time. Being at West Meadows was a little strange for me, playing a professional game. I had played there in youth hockey countless times. However, once the puck dropped I had other things to think about. The pace was good and there was a little bit of running around as both teams had plenty of guys on the roster bubble trying to make a difference.
The first period went quickly and involved a few fights. It didn’t take long for things to get chippy. As the second period started I was starting to wonder when my number was coming up fight wise. Everyone was hitting hard and it seemed like only a matter of time before things were going to get out of hand. And it did for me late in the second period. Unfortunately for me I didn’t fare so well and had to be taken out of the game (1). But it’s part of hockey and I have no regrets. It felt good to get the win as everyone battled very hard. It seemed more like a frantic playoff game at times than a September exhibition.
Unfortunately for me, the stitches at the rink wouldn’t suffice and I needed to be taken to the emergency room with teammate Emerson Clark. I made sure to tweet a picture of the damage (see photo here [warning: photo is graphic]) because the guys wanted to see how many retweets I could get in a half hour! I wouldn’t find out because all the concerned callers drained the battery on my phone! I stayed the night at the hospital and had some work done on my lip. The IceHogs medical staff took great care of me and I am very grateful for that.
Most of the invitees were released from the tryouts following the exhibition. For me it is hard to be upset considering I was given the opportunity to skate with the farm team of the Blackhawks who have won the Stanley Cup two out of the last five years. It is a very strong system that I was glad to be a part of. Hopefully I can be part of it again sometime soon! For now, it’s back to the Colorado Eagles where training camp starts next week. Thanks for reading!
1. In the second period, Bidwill and Chicago’s Brett Ponich fought and during the altercation Bidwill received a major cut on his upper lip, forcing him to leave the game.