As the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate that hockey season is back, the organization is proud to announce growing efforts to celebrate and advance the amateur hockey community in Illinois; along with new investments, programs and resources to help make a more accessible introduction to the sport. This expanded commitment coincides with the news of the City of Chicago’s recent approval for the expansion of Fifth Third Arena – the Chicago Blackhawks Community Ice Rink, which strives to create a hub for Midwest youth hockey and local community-based programs with the addition of two ice rinks and added event spaces. 

“The Chicago Blackhawks have a responsibility to be an active participant in the health and growth of the amateur hockey community,” said Jaime Faulkner, President of Business Operations for the Chicago Blackhawks. “We have spent last year building plans, programs and relationships that allow us to support the full ecosystem of amateur hockey, and we are doubling down our efforts alongside our hockey families, rink partners, leagues and clubs to improve the amateur hockey system and experience in Illinois. 

The Blackhawks are excited to launch a number of these programs this year, starting with their own ‘Try Hockey for Free’ event in October and ending the season with hosting league championships.

Try Hockey for Free - Oct. 14-15

Take part in on-ice sessions to try the sport of hockey, and every participant will receive a jersey, t-shirt, hockey stick and a ticket to a Blackhawks game for the upcoming season – all at no cost! Skate rentals will also be provided courtesy of participating rinks.


Over the past year, the Chicago Blackhawks have established a formal partnership with over 40 community rinks known as the official Blackhawks Rink Network and hope to expand to 150 by the end of next year.

In addition, the Blackhawks have begun to form strengthen relationships with Illinois hockey leagues, such as the Northern Illinois Hockey League (NIHL), which consists of over 50 travel hockey organizations and over 300 individual teams with the mission of providing a competitive and enjoyable hockey experience for players throughout Illinois and its surrounding states. This year, the league championships will be hosted in partnership between the Blackhawks and NIHL at the United Center on February 18th for the following levels:

  • Squirt (U10) Premier Select League
  • Pee Wee (U12) Premier Select League
  • Bantam (U14) Premier Select League
  • Midget (U16 Boys) College Jr. Prep Division
  • Midget (U18 Boys) College Jr Prep Division
  • Girls 16/19 Upper


The Chicago Blackhawks High School Rivalry Series program returns for a third season this year starting in November and runs through January 2024. The series, which aims to promote community-based high school competitions across Chicagoland, includes six total matchups taking place over the course of three months. Each game is open to the public and free to attend. Those in attendance can expect a variety of Blackhawks fan-favorite gameday elements such as a live DJ, appearances by Tommy Hawk, giveaways, gameday merch and the opportunity to shoot the puck.

New Trier vs. Loyola Academy (Girls)
Northshore Ice Arena 
Nov. 12
Wheaton West vs. Glenbard 
Center Ice of DuPage 
Nov. 18
Glenbrook South Titans vs. Glenbrook North Hockey
Centennial Rink 
Nov. 22
York vs. Stevenson 
Addison Ice Arena
Dec. 8
Maine vs. Waubonsie 
Oakton Ice Arena 
Jan. 20
(PREP) Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove Programs vs. (BGHW) Buffalo Grove, Hersey, Wheeling  

For more information on the High School Rivalry Series, visit Blackhawks.com/HSRivalrySeries.


In further celebration of high school hockey and in partnership with the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI), the Chicago Blackhawks will host the 2024 Illinois State High School Hockey Championships, at the United Center. This marks the 34th year that AHAI will host the State Championship at the United Center/Chicago Stadium. The 2023 title was won by New Trier Green in the Red Division, Prep in the Combined Division and Barrington in the Girls’ Division. More details on this event will be released in early 2024.


The Chicago Blackhawks are excited to announce another year of the Little Blackhawks Learn to Play program, which includes 6-8 weeks of lessons at a local ice rink and a full set of hockey equipment. Little Blackhawks programs will take place at 13 rinks across the Chicagoland area this fall. The Blackhawks hope to expand this program to the majority of their rink partners in the future.

For more information on the Little Blackhawks program and to register for fall, visit Blackhawks.com/LittleBlackhawks.


The Chicago Blackhawks are proud to announce a ‘Try Hockey for Free’ event designed to help kids overcome the initial barriers to the sport and get them excited to come back for more. In partnership with 15 local ice rinks including Fifth Third Arena, free clinics will take place throughout the Oct. 14 – 15 weekend.

Each participating rink will host two on-ice sessions for those interested in trying the sport of hockey, one for kids six and under and one for those seven and up, and every participant will receive a jersey, t-shirt, hockey stick and a ticket to a Blackhawks game for the upcoming 2023-24 season – all at no cost. Skate rentals will also be provided courtesy of participating rinks; participants will be responsible for bringing their own helmet (e.g., bike helmet, hockey helmet, etc.).

A marquee event will take place at Fifth Third Arena on Saturday, Oct. 14 where participants can ‘Try All Parts of Hockey for Free’ which will include the on-ice session as well as kid-friendly, interactive activities on how to become a coach, referee, team mascot, broadcaster and more ways to be involved in the game.

Advanced registration is strongly encouraged as capacity is limited and very few walk-ups will be accepted. To find your local rink and register, please visit Blackhawks.com/TryHockey.

Fifth_Third_rink_v2 NEW FINAL

Rendering of new Championship Rink as part of expansion plans for Fifth Third Arena Community Ice Rink


On Thursday, Sep. 14, 2023, the City of Chicago approved the privately-funded $65 million dollar expansion plans for Fifth Third Arena Community Ice Rink, which includes two additional sheets of ice.

“We’re excited to move forward on a project that will not only establish Chicago’s West Side as a hub for Midwest hockey but enable us to expand community programs and outreach at the ice rink,” said Danny Wirtz, Chairman and CEO for the Chicago Blackhawks. “That was a top priority for my dad who wanted Fifth Third Arena to be a community rink first and a practice facility for the team second. We thank Ald. Walter Burnett, the City Council and the local community for working with us and supporting this expansion.”

A key goal of the 135,000-square-foot expansion is to establish Fifth Third Arena as a world-class community ice arena and ultimately become a hub for Midwest hockey by hosting youth and amateur hockey clubs, figure skating, as well as national and international competitions and more as one of the rinks will be able to host championship games for up to 1,500 patrons (see rendering attached).

Fifth Third Arena currently supports many community efforts in partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks and the team’s Foundation such as a Back-to-School party for CPS students in partnership with Joe Freshgoods and Community Goods, Support West, Healthy Hawks, One West Side, L.E.A.D. programs and more. Additional enhancements made to the building will further bolster West Side community-based programs and neighborhood job opportunities.

Newly added multi-purpose spaces will be available for increased afterschool programming, with additional hospitality spaces for enjoyment including a seasonal outdoor patio that will be available to the public. The arena expansion will also improve walkways, traffic safety and parking as well as add more outdoor seating areas and a public café with healthy menu options for the community to enjoy.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2024 with the grand opening anticipated for early 2026.