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Sports

Blackhawks start training camp at Compton

| Thursday, September 18, 2014

For the second consecutive year, the Chicago Blackhawks took the two-hour bus drive east to kick off the team’s training camp at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, a 1995 Notre Dame graduate, came up with the idea to bring Chicago to Notre Dame prior to last season. Bowman said he was happy to see the Blackhawks back in South Bend.

“We’re really excited to be back here at Notre Dame for the second year,” Bowman said. “Last year was a great experience for our organization and our players.

“We’re excited to be back and excited to be talking hockey again.”

Bowman praised Compton Family Ice Arena and cited last year’s positive experiences as the reason for the team’s return.

“It is a first-class facility here and the staff is tremendous,” Bowman said of Notre Dame. “It was a nice setting for our team to get together. It was something a little different, and it worked really well for our group.”

The general admission tickets for the Blackhawks training camp sold out rapidly for Saturday and Sunday’s training camp sessions. Blackhawks starting center and captain Jonathon Toews said the support in the South Bend area makes it a great place to start training camp.

“It’s pretty cool,” Toews said. “Obviously, we’re not too far down the road. … you see a lot of Notre Dame football fans living in Chicago. It’s nice to see, whether it’s local people, hockey fans, football fans, come check out our practices and our games.”

The Blackhawks have seen success recently, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013, but failed last season to move past the Western Conference Finals, losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings. Toews said the atmosphere of Notre Dame helps put the players in a winning mood and will prepare them for another Stanley Cup run.

“I’m excited to get back out there the next couple of days and just enjoy it,” Toews said. “It’s a great little community, a great school, and a there’s a whole lot of history here, so it’s fun for us to come here and partake in and be a part of that culture too.”

Former Irish defenseman Stephen Johns will take the ice for the Blackhawks, as he competes in training camp for a roster spot.

Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students, faculty and staff can watch the Blackhawks for free with a valid ID today from 10 a.m., to 12:45 p.m., while the general public can watch training camp Saturday and Sunday, also from 10 a.m., to 12:45 p.m.

The Blackhawks will be back in Chicago at the United Center for their annual Training Camp Festival on Monday at 7 p.m.

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