POSTED ON Monday, 08.15.2016 / 10:21 AM CT
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog

While each NHL team has the same type of schedule—82 games with an equal amount at home and on the road—one major difference is how it breaks down.

This upcoming season, the Blackhawks will hope to get off to a strong start because the end of this season's schedule will be an "extra" challenge. Looking ahead, the last eight games will include six on the road and only two at the United Center. Right now it might not look that difficult, but beginning March 25, the Blackhawks will contest three in a row on the road against teams that made the playoffs—Florida, Eastern Conference finalist Tampa Bay and defending Cup-winner Pittsburgh.

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POSTED ON Friday, 07.15.2016 / 1:20 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
(Chase Agnello-Dean)

For many of the Blackhawks’ top prospects, this was the day they’d been waiting for all week. Friday’s scrimmage at Johnny’s IceHouse West featured two teams comprised of draft picks and players on entry-level contracts, and after a scoreless first period, the pace picked up and the floodgates opened.

It started with Vincent Hinostroza, playing on Team B’s top line with John Hayden and Ryan Hartman, who found the net just 46 seconds into the middle frame. Team A answered almost immediately afterward as camp standout Alexandre Fortin stole the puck at the blue line, leading to a 2-on-0 and a tap-in goal by Tanner Kero,

Team A seemed to find another gear, creating a flurry of scoring chances; Beau Starrett and Nick Schmaltz and Anthony Louis each had good opportunities stopped by goalie Matt Tomkins, before Radovan Bondra broke the tie for Team B.

The loudest play of the second period belonged to Roy Radke, whose breakaway shot 11 minutes in rang off the pipe, eliciting cheers and groans from the capacity crowd at Johnny’s IceHouse West. Just after Radke’s miss, Team B broke through again: Fredrik Olofsson found linemate Mathias From with a drop pass, and the 2016 fourth-round pick’s wrist shot snuck past Wouter Peeters to give Team B a 3-1 lead.

Once again, it didn’t take long for Team A to respond. Nick Schmaltz found Tyler Motte in the slot for a laser that popped the goalie’s water bottle; the two recent ELC signings, along with 2016 second-rounder Alex DeBrincat, showcased noticeable speed and skill throughout the scrimmage. A few minutes later, Radke made up for his near-miss from earlier with a short-side snipe on Tomkins to knot the score at 3-3.

The exhilarating pace continued through the third period, as Team A continued to generate chances, only for Tomkins to hold steady in net. Team B opened up another two-goal lead, first off a tip-in by Jack Ramsey and later off Hinostroza’s second of the game.

Team A closed the gap through Matheson Iacopelli, whose backhand finish in tight was the game’s most impressive finish, but Olofsson’s nifty backhand late in the period beat Jake Hildebrand to ice the game for Team B.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.13.2016 / 2:59 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Teams A and B pose with the Prospect Camp trophy after their third and final scrimmage. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

The scoring started early, as players found their legs and upped the intensity on the final day of scrimmages with the full group. Although Team A held a slim lead through two periods, another late surge by Team B’s top players gave them the victory and allowed them to clinch the Prospect Camp trophy.

Nathan Noel, a fourth-round pick in 2016, opened the scoring for Team A (wearing white jerseys) early with a quick wrister that beat goaltender Shane Starrett. Team B (wearing red) ramped up the pressure as 2016 second-rounder Alex DeBrincat created a few scoring chances on successive shifts. They finally broke through on another stellar individual effort by free-agent invitee Alexandre Fortin, who stole the puck at the blue line and took off on a breakaway, deking from backhand to forehand on the finish.

Less than a minute later, Noel put Team A head again, tapping home the puck off a centering feed from linemate Beau Starrett. Late in the period, defenseman Lucas Carlsson embarked on an end-to-end rush, but the 2016 fourth-round pick had the puck poke-checked away.

“We started a lot better than we did in previous games, and that was great to see,” Noel said. “[Beau and Fredrik Olofsson] are both big guys, and we controlled the puck really well. It was just clicking today. Everything was working.”

Team A narrowed the gap 4 minutes into the second period, as 2016 fifth-round selection Mathias From finished a wrister from in close. Team B answered again when Fortin stole another puck to create a 2-on-0 opportunity and fed Matheson Iacopelli, who flicked the puck cleanly into the roof of the net for his second goal of camp. Fortin would have two more prime scoring chances in the second, hitting the post from the right circle on the power play and then having another breakaway chance stopped.

Coming off a hip injury that limited him to 43 points (19G, 24A) in 54 games with Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL last season, Fortin has been a camp standout, excelling in front of notable names like Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman this week.

“I don’t see [their presence] as pressure; I see it as a boost,” Fortin said. “It’s helped me to be better.”

The 19-year-old from Blainville, Quebec, put an exclamation mark on his day with the tying goal for Team B early in the third period, cashing in on a rebound after setting up the initial shot by Trevor Mingoia.

Team A created several more scoring chances to try and take the lead once more, but it was Team B that found a late breakthrough. Dylan Sikura’s cross-crease pass found John Dahlstrom, who didn’t miss with the goalie down and out. The late goal gave Team B a 4-3 win, marking their second comeback of the week as they swept the main scrimmage series.

Prospect Camp resumes on Thursday with positional drills, as the ELC group combines with the prospects ahead of Friday’s final scrimmage.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 07.13.2016 / 2:08 PM CT
By Nathan Noel, with Brandis Heffner - Special to chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Director of Player Development Barry Smith addresses the prospects at the conclusion of the third scrimmage. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

Throughout the week, 2016 draft pick Nathan Noel will be blogging for chicagoblackhawks.com about his experiences during his first Blackhawks Prospect Camp.

Today was the last day of scrimmages with the free agent players. I felt more comfortable right from the start. The first two scrimmages, I was pretty nervous, but I’ve kind of settled in. Our team (Team A) definitely brought it today.

We started a lot better than we did in previous games, and that was great to see. My main linemates this week have been Beau Starrett and Frederik Olofsson. They’re both big guys and we controlled the puck really well. It was just clicking today. Everything was working. After scoring twice early on, I thought I was having a good game until I got injured and had to come out.

I went for a check and hit the guy; his skate came up and caught me. It’s nothing major, so I should be all right.

Last night the whole group went out for a team dinner. We just had a bunch of tables at the restaurant. I knew a few of the guys at my table, and we had a great time. It’s really classy of the organization, how they set all of this up. We’ve had some time to ourselves in the evenings. We were able to go see the Bean, and that was pretty amazing. Coming from a smaller city, this is a pretty amazing place. I haven’t been to a city this big before.

My favorite part of camp has been just meeting the guys. They’re all great guys, coming from everywhere, and I think we really bonded over the last few days. It’s been a great week for me in general. Compared to all the other guys at camp, I think I was right there with everyone. I worked hard and showed I can compete with everyone here, and that’s what I came to do.

Even though my week’s probably come to an end, I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’m looking forward to getting back for the rookie camp later this summer. Prospect camp just shows you how hard you have to work. I’m going to try to have a really strong end of the summer and work really hard to get ready for the season, and next year should be fun.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.12.2016 / 4:49 PM CT
By Nathan Noel, with Brandis Heffner - Special to chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Nathan Noel (second from right) celebrates a goal with Team A on the second day of scrimmages. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

Throughout the week, 2016 draft pick Nathan Noel will be blogging for chicagoblackhawks.com about his experiences during his first Blackhawks Prospect Camp.

This morning we had another scrimmage. It was high-paced and a faster game than yesterday. All the guys are pretty tired after this one.

I’m feeling pretty good now. By trying to get into the game a bit more, I’m feeling more comfortable every day. I’m enjoying playing with the guys on my primary line (Beau Starrett and Fredrik Olofsson). Our team is missing a forward, so we’re getting mixed around and getting to play with everyone. They’re all good players.

The coaches here are great too. There’s so many staff here—I think there’s more staff than players. Everyone is so friendly and so helpful. They know you’re here to work hard every day in the practices and games, and they give everyone individual corrections to help you along the way. They know what you bring to the table, and you just have to show them you have a good work ethic and that you’re determined to make the team in the future. That’s what it really comes down to: who’s going to work the hardest for you.

Outside of practice and games, all of the guys are getting along. Everyone is just trying to fit in here, and even though you don’t really know the other guys, you want to make everyone feel comfortable. Nobody is bigger than anyone else and we’re all in the same boat. It’s a really good group. Some of us went shopping yesterday for a few things. Coming from Canada, it’s nice that things are a lot cheaper here.

We have a group dinner tonight, and that should be fun, seeing all the guys. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, and it should be a fun end to the week.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.12.2016 / 3:26 PM CT
By Ryan Rodriguez - Special to chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Team B celebrates Alexandre Fortin's first-period goal during the second scrimmage of Prospect Camp. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

Free-agent camp invitee Alexandre Fortin followed up a strong first day of scrimmages with another solid performance on Tuesday at Johnny’s IceHouse West, scoring the game’s opening goal and adding a half-dozen scoring chances as Team B marched to a 4-1 victory over Team A.

Fortin, a 19-year-old left winger out of Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL, potted his third goal of prospect camp 2:13 into the scrimmage’s second frame, collecting a rebound in front of the net before firing a well-placed shot over the shoulder of free-agent goaltender Evgeny Kiselev to put Team A up 1-0.

“This week’s a good test to see how you fit among the other prospects and see what your improvement has been throughout the offseason,” said 2014 fifth-round pick Luc Snuggerud. “Just the pace of the play and seeing if you can keep up with it, it’s a good test for everyone.”

Team B would strike back 5 minutes later after fellow free-agent invitee Adam Johnson’s shot from the top of the right circle trickled through the legs of Boston University junior Connor LaCouvee, another undrafted free agent in attendance.

The rest of the scrimmage proved to be a very back-and-forth affair, with both teams trading scoring chances. Alex DeBrincat, a 2016 second-rounder, created a number of quality scoring chances for Team B towards the end of the second frame, and Fortin continued to impress with his speed in all three zones.

Jack Ramsey, a seventh-round pick in 2014, would put Team B up 2-1 early in the third period, collecting a pretty feed from 25-year-old free agent Markus Ljungh from behind the net and putting it home for his first goal of prospect camp.

“It’s always about trying to get better and trying to improve,” Snuggerud added. “Trying to compete for jobs wherever you get the chance. In my opinion, it’s all about just working hard.”

Team B would add two goals in the final 5 minutes after 2014 third-round pick Matheson Iacopelli followed up his initial shot and poked the puck past the goaltender. Ljungh posted his second point of the day with under 3 minutes left, collecting a rebound in the crease before roofing a pretty backhand shot over the shoulder of goaltender Jack Burgart.

“The whole thing has been a great experience so far,” free agent invitee Jake Randolph said afterward. “This is my first experience with an NHL camp, and what better organization to be a part of than the Chicago Blackhawks?”

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POSTED ON Monday, 07.11.2016 / 4:57 PM CT
By Nathan Noel, with Brandis Heffner - Special to chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Nathan Noel (front, white jersey), a 2016 fourth-round pick, battles for the puck during a scrimmage. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

Throughout the week, 2016 draft pick Nathan Noel will be blogging for chicagoblackhawks.com about his experiences during his first Blackhawks Prospect Camp.

On draft day I was at a ball hockey tournament. I wasn’t playing with my phone on the bench, and after the game I looked at my phone and it was blowing up. There wasn’t really one call that I found out the news from, I just saw a bunch of texts and that’s how I knew. I was at a loss for words. My buddies were hugging me.

I was really excited to get to camp. I was here in Chicago for the combine, and now I’m just trying to get my feet wet, work as hard as I can, impress the guys upstairs, be a good teammate out there, and do whatever it takes to give it my all.

It’s going by pretty fast. Our first scrimmage was today and it went well. It’s a pretty fast-paced game out there, and I think in the middle of the summer everyone’s just trying to get their legs going. I felt pretty good and I just want to keep going moving forward and keep working hard.

Compared to playing in the QMJHL, the level of hockey is really good here. Everyone’s really equal, and there’s not as much of a drop-off in skill level. It’s a lot deeper of a group here than you’re used to facing in a junior game.

For the rest of the week, I just want to work as hard as I possibly can and try my best. It’s my first development camp, so while the end goal is to make the Blackhawks, right now I just want to improve myself and have a strong finish to this camp.

Overall, it has been a really fun time here and I’m really enjoying myself. Although we’ve done mostly on-ice stuff so far, I’m going to try and get to a Cubs game. I really like baseball and the Cubs are a really good team this year, so that’d be really exciting.

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POSTED ON Monday, 07.11.2016 / 2:50 PM CT
By Ryan Rodriguez - Special to chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
John Dahlstrom scored for Team B in the first day of scrimmages at Prospect Camp. (Chase Agnello-Dean)

Team B scored three unanswered goals in the third period during the first scrimmage of Prospect Camp to defeat Team A by a final score of 3-1 on Monday at Johnny’s IceHouse West.

For many of the Blackhawks prospects in attendance, the scrimmage was a welcome change of pace from the many practices and testing that normally comes with training camp in July.

“It was nice, scrimmages are always a fun thing,” said 2016 first-round pick Alex DeBrincat, who played on the top line for the victorious Team B. “It’s a nice little break from all of the workouts and whatnot. It’s more of a time to play your game and have some fun.”

Team A, wearing white jerseys, jumped out to an early lead after right wing Fredrik Olofsson, a 2014 fourth-round pick, tipped home a pretty feed through the crease from defenseman Luc Snuggerud, a 2014 fifth-round pick, at 3:46 of the first period; the two are teammates at the University of Nebraska–Omaha.

“It’s so nice to have some of my teammates here,” Olofsson said. “We just get to reconnect, talk about the season coming up, talk about the season that just finished. We’re all good friends.”

After nearly cashing in on several more chances towards the end of the first period, Team A carried a 1-0 lead into the locker room. However, Team B would fire back with several chances in the second, nearly tying the game on a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle from Western Michigan forward Matheson Iacopelli, who took off on a breakaway.

Center Roy Radke, a 2015 sixth-round pick, had the best chance to convert for Team B in the second frame. After being hooked on a clean break towards the net, Radke was awarded the game’s only penalty shot. After a nifty backhand-forehand move, he managed to beat goaltender Collin Delia on the low blocker side, but his shot rang off the post and up into the netting.

A few more solid looks proved fruitless, and Team A managed to hold onto its 1-0 lead going into the third.

With a little more than 4 minutes left in the scrimmage, Team B finally broke through after Radke found 2015 seventh-round pick John Dahlstrom alone in front of the net with a slick pass through the slot that Dahlstrom managed to poke home. Left wing Alexandre Fortin put Team B up 2-1 several minutes later after collecting a rebound on the side of the cage following a point shot through traffic. The free-agent invitee from Rouyn-Noranda would add an empty netter with 38 seconds left to put his team up 3-1 and ice the game for good.

“It’s a lot of work, but everyone’s got a good attitude and good energy, so it makes it worth it,” Olofsson said after the scrimmage. “The main thing I think is just to stick to the process. We’re not all first-rounders that come in right away, and everyone’s road is different.”

“Obviously everyone around here wants to play in the NHL, but for a lot of us it’s just a matter of when,” DeBrincat said. “I think you just have to play your game and hope for the best.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 06.20.2016 / 10:33 AM CT
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog

Last week's trade with Carolina has given the Blackhawks a second-round pick (50th overall) in Buffalo this week, and based on recent drafts, Senior VP/GM Stan Bowman's scouting staff has been able to make some excellent choices, even in the late rounds.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.9.2016 / 2:39 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Vinny Hinostroza is one of five Blackhawks representatives at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. (Getty Images)

As of Monday afternoon, five Chicago Blackhawks representatives have played three games for their countries at the IIHF World Championship, held in Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg). Below, a summary of how each player has fared thus far:

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