In an offseason during which I went to Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp and the Blackhawks Convention, I thought the Training Camp Festival would be a fitting conclusion. This was the first time I have ever attended the Blackhawks training camp festival. Since it was my first time at the Festival, I decided to arrive before the doors to the United Center opened at 5 p.m. When I arrived, the line to enter Gate 2 was already half way down Damon Avenue.
I entered the line right across the street and proceeded to wait in line until 5 p.m. The line was long and there were only a few instances of line jumping that I saw. As we approached the gate, we saw the fun activities that the Blackhawks had outlined for everyone. They had a whole kids section across from Gate 2 behind the statue. They also had fun stuff for adults including a beer tent and a band. I did not partake because I did not want to leave the line.
When I entered the United Center, we were walked through security and then were presented with our Jonathan Toews bobblehead.
The first 10,000 fans received a bobblehead. A friend of mine had come with to the Festival, so we had devised a plan of attack for seats. Seating for the scrimmage was general admission on a first come, first serve basis. We went to the 200 Level because I had never sat there for a Blackhawks game. We were lucky enough to get seats behind the Blackhawks’ Red Team net in Section 237, Row 2. The 200s are a great view; if you have the money, I highly recommend them.
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The Blackhawks treated this scrimmage like a home game. They had videos on the Jumbotron with funny interviews of players. The night began like a home game, too, with the teams coming out to warm up before the game started. The Blackhawks unveiled their new intro video which gave me chills. The video did feature less Patrick Kane than in years past. It was also sad not seeing departed Blakchawks not in the video. After that, public address announcer Gene Honda introduced the American war veterans and soloist Jim Cornelison. Cornelison sang the National Anthem and the place went crazy. Now the stadium was not filled to capacity so it was not as loud as during a regular-season or playoff game, but it was still loud.
Toews came onto the ice and thanked the crowd and said how he excited he was to get back to playing hockey.
The game did not feature many of the stars because they have a preseason game against Detroit tonight. The game did feature Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Marko Dano, Corey Crawford, Scott Darling and Viktor Tikhonov. The crowd did get some excitement as there was a fight. The intermission entertainment was the same as a home game, with a kids’ skating race after the first period. Seeing the kids skate is so much fun. I also liked seeing several girls on both teams. The second-period intermission entertainment was the shoot the puck contest. The star players were interviewed during the scrimmage by Pat Foley and other Blackhawks TV reporters. Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson were interviewed along with Trevor van Riemsdyk, Teuvo and Trevor Daley.
The scrimmage did end with a 3-on-3 overtime period. The new overtime format clearly favors the offense. The White Team defeated the Red Team and everyone went home happy.
I recommend fans attend the Blackhawks Camp Festival in the future. It is cheap and fun for the whole family. Tickets were only $10 apiece.
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