In the pros: Bidwill signs with Colorado Eagles

Arthur Bidwill saw a chance to move up a level in pro hockey and return to Colorado. He gladly took it.

The former Colorado College defenseman said he signed a one-year contract recently with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles.

“After last season (in the Central Hockey League) ended I was looking for the best fit,” he said Friday. “It is great that I get to stay in Colorado. I really enjoyed my four years at CC. I know the Eagles have a really good fan base. It will be fun.”

Bidwill played four postseason games with the CHL’s Allen (Texas) Americans, with former teammate Brian McMillin, who recently re-signed with the franchise. Bidwill’s season ended early with a knee injury in the playoffs. He he fully recovered by the team awards brunch in May.

Bidwill did well in his short time in the CHL, finishing plus-7 thanks in part to the slower, more controlled pace on the NHL-sized sheets of the CHL, especially when compared to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. He knows the ECHL (which used to be an acronym for East Coast Hockey League) will be a step up in speed and skill.

“I do not know really what to expect,” he said. “I hope I can contribute. I know I will go in, work hard and then we will see what happens.”

The preseason starts Oct. 5 with the Eagles hosting the expansion franchise San Francisco Bulls with the regular-season opener at home against Alaska, which has Tim Hall on its protected list, on Oct. 12 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

In the pros: Bidwill, Dineen, McMillin, Sterling

Former Tiger defenseman Arthur Bidwill was plus-2 in his professional debut on Friday night.

Former Tiger defenseman Arthur Bidwill made his professional debut during the Allen Americans’ 5-0 win over the Texas Brahmas in the first round of the Central Hockey League playoffs Friday night.

Allen teammate and former Tiger forward Brian McMillin scored a goal for the Western Conference second-seeded Americans.

Nick Dineen made his pro debut with the ECHL Elmira (N.Y.) Jackals against the Reading Royals on Friday in the team’s second-to-last regular-season game, committing a tripping penalty.

Brett Sterling scored an empty-netter in AHL Portland’s 5-3 win over Worcester.

UPDATED: Civitarese in AHL Hershey Bears’ fold

David Civitarese called me on Saturday, so here are some quotes and more details on his signing with the AHL Hershey, the 2009 and 2010 Calder Cup champions.

Here’s my original blog post with the changes included.

The Hershey Bears announced Friday morning that the club signed former Tigers forward David Civitarese to an amateur tryout agreement. Additionally, Civitarese has signed an American Hockey League contract effective for the 2012-13 season.

It was a relief for Civitarese, who had excelled at an amateur camp last summer held by the Washington Capitals, the Bears’ NHL affiliate and was wrapping up his schoolwork over spring break until Wednesday afternoon.

“(His advisor/agent) had heard from a couple ECHL teams but I was hoping to hear from the Capitals,” he said after Saturday’s pregame morning skate in Hershey. “Once we heard from them on Wednesday it all happened pretty quickly and I was flying out at 6 a.m. Thursday.”

He signed the AHL-only contract officially on Thursday and practiced with the team for the first time on Friday.

“It’s a great situation,” he said. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to play at a higher level.Being put into a leadership role as a senior for the first time helped contribute to my growth. It was a huge boost of confidence for me. They saw me play a couple times and evidently, they liked what they saw.”

Civitarese, 22, 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, recorded 30 points (14g, 16a) in 121 games in a four-year career at Colorado College.  He had 10 points (8g, 2a) his senior season.

The Bears host the Charlotte Checkers at 5 p.m. Mountain Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, when Civitarese may make his debut. He said he will be a healthy scratch Saturday night and will use the chance to learn more about the Bears’ systems.

“I’m going to learn as much as I can,” the physics major said. “Everything I can do to get better will be crucial.”

The defensive forward is not too concerned about making his pro debut quickly, knowing that being ready is important and the Bears are gearing up for the playoffs. He also has the relative security of being under contract next season.

“It’s definitely a plus for me,” he said. “(The Bears) have a history of success here. For sure, the coaches, everything, is top notch.”

The idea of making it to the NHL would be the fulfillment of a dream, but the all-WCHA academic honoree is not to getting too far ahead of himself. He knows he needs to become a good AHL player first.

“I know I need to prove myself at each level in order to move up,” he said.  “I’ll be learning and watching how the older players do things.”

Civitarese is the fourth of the six Tiger seniors to move into the pro ranks. Defenseman Gabe Guentzel signed a similar deal with AHL Syracuse while wing Tim Hall signed an ATO with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. Defenseman Arthur Bidwill will sign with the CHL’s Allen Americans this weekend.

More Wednesday reading: In the pros, Wisconsin news

Former Tiger Trevor Frischmon got into a fight (video) over the weekend. Here’s a feature on Nate Prosser. Congrats to him and his wife Brittani, who are expecting their first child this August.

Brian McMillin picked up an assist in a big win for the CHL’s Allen Americans.

Air Force is relying on balanced scoring during its eight-game unbeaten streak.

These two brothers have garnered CC’s attention.

Here’s a followup on Wisconsin goalie Kirk Daubenspeck and his return from an accident that nearly killed him a year ago.

Here’s more on the Big 10, WCHA and National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s search for a postseason tournament home, the third big task new commissioner Jim Scherr is handling.

Wisconsin bids farewell to its Bob Johnson practice facility. I’d suggest they name the new practice facility replacing it in Badger Bob’s honor soon.

The WCHA announced its players of the week.

Tuesday reading: Gophers update; Bachman starts tonight

Here’s highlights from Don Lucia’s Monday radio show about this weekend’s hoem series against CC.

The first major injury of the year for Minnesota takes out one of its better penalty killers.

Here’s the first big event for the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, an outdoor game in 2013 between North Dakota and host Nebraska Omaha in the College World Series baseball stadium in downtown Omaha.

Former Tiger Richard Bachman, pictured at left, will start in goal Tuesday night against Detroit.

Brian McMillin scored for the CHL ‘s Allen Americans.

This Week in the WCHA … 

Bemidji State is idle.

Games for Friday, January 20: Alaska Anchorage at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Alabama-Huntsville at Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; Colorado College at Minnesota (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakota at St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT.

Games for Saturday, January 21: Colorado College at Minnesota (WCHA), 5:07 pm CT; Northern Michigan at Michigan Tech (WCHA), 7:07 pm ET; Alaska Anchorage at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Alabama-Huntsville at Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; North Dakotaat St. Cloud State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT.