The Blackhawks return to the ice this weekend with Training Camp opening Friday and the annual Training Camp Festival on Sunday, but they can't hit the ice without, well, the ice.
On Wednesday, ice installation at the United Center began and four season ticketholders got the opportunity of a lifetime - helping paint the very ice their favorite players will soon call home once again.
Jen Goldman, her 11-year-old son Josh and his friend Nicolas were tasked with painting one of the blue lines. The Goldmans are lifelong Blackhawks fans and have been season ticketholders since 2008.
The family's love for the Blackhawks, Jen explained, started early and has only grown as the years have passed.
"In general, all of our encounters with the players have been sensational and [they have always been] kind to the kids and interacted with them. That's what drives [our] passion for the Blackhawks."
Painting the ice allows the trio to leave their mark on the United Center for the upcoming season.
"All season you're going to look at the same blue line that we just painted. That's pretty incredible," Jen said.
Along with the Goldmans, Michael Romano and his son, Michael Jr., got to share in the ice-painting experience that further strengthened their father-son bond built around the team.
The elder Romano has been a lifelong fan and grew up watching the likes of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. He started taking his son, who has low-functioning autism, to games 17 years ago.
"[Michael Jr.] is very isolating. He doesn't really like to do anything, but [hockey] is the one thing that a father and son can do together," explains Romano. "The people here treat [my son] so well. He feels safe [and] welcomed here. This place is magic."
The ability to paint the ice today, he said, reinforces that feeling of being part of the Blackhawks family.
"It's extraordinary…The fact that we were selected to do this really makes me feel appreciated. Mostly my son, this is about him. You can see that he is very taken aback by everything that is going on here. Today was a great gift for him."