Every Wednesday for the next few weeks, Crystal Lake native and Notre Dame hockey player Tory Dello, along with some of his teammates, will drive from South Bend, Indiana, to Chicago to play in the Chicago Pro Hockey League.
The first-year league will provide some solid competition, including a number of NHL players.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Dello said. “Most of the guys know of each other from one way or another, playing against each other or growing up with each other.”
The league, which is modeled after a similar league in Minnesota, features some of the best pro and college hockey talent in the Chicago area. Play begins Wednesday at MB Ice Arena – the Blackhawks’ practice facility – two block south of the United Center. Tickets are $5, and proceeds will be donated to a different charity each week. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Carpentersville native and current Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman, formerly of the Blackhawks, will participate. Current Hawks Brandon Saad, Vinnie Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat and Jordan Oesterle alsowill take part.
“It just speaks of how far the talent [in Chicago] has come in a pretty short amount of time,” Dello said. “We’re right there with other states like Minnesota and Massachusetts. It’s great for not only us, but for the young kids in the Chicago area.”
The league consists of four high-level teams in Division A and another four teams in Division B, which features many of the area’s top amateur players. Each Wednesday through Aug. 15 will feature two games in Division A and two games in Division B. Games also will be streamed on the league’s website.
Algonquin natives Nick Addante and Wyatt Schingoethe are participating in Division B, as are Carpentersville natives Jack Randl and Matt Romer.
All have come up through the Chicago Mission hockey club. Randl most recently played for the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League and will play college hockey at Michigan this fall. Schingoethe will play for the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks next season.
“If you look at the teams, even in our division, the younger kids, we’ve got college guys, USHL, it’s not just kids,” Addante said. “I think it will be good, exciting, different sort of thing.”
Addante plans on playing for the Mission again next season. He is excited to watch some of the NHL and college talent perform, as well.
"I remember when I played at the Mission, summer hockey was a big thing," Dello said. "This will be another outlet for them to keep playing hockey."
Seven Notre Dame hockey players will participate. Dello and his teammates are fresh off a runner-up finish at the Frozen Four in March. Dello spent a couple of weeks at home this summer but is back in South Bend working out with his team.
The league will provide a change of pace and some high-level competition.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for not only me, but other players, being able to play against a lot of friends and players I looked up to growing up,” Dello said.