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By: Nate Haeni

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 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!

Go IceHogs! 
-Arthur Bidwill

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.


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