Hononegah grad has a chance to make IceHogs opening night roster

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) He's been away from the Stateline for six years, and while many of his friends are gone, IceHogs new defenseman Josh McArdle is glad to be back in the 815.

"It's pretty awesome," said McArdle. "Anytime you get to start your pro career, it's a big moment for you and me being able to come back home is pretty awesome."

The 24-year-old Roscoe-native got his hockey legs under him when he first joined the Rockford Park District's "Learn to Skate" program. He later joined the Junior IceHogs and helped the Rockford Hitmen to a state title in 2009. McArdle becomes the first alumnus of the park district's youth hockey program to sign with the Hogs.

"I can never say enough about the coaches that I had growing up. I think a lot of them are still there today, so that says a lot," said McArdle. "I think you can come up through this program and do whatever you set out to do as long as you work hard."

The Hononegah grad understands his dual role with Rockford. He wants to standout with the IceHogs, but also be a role model for the youth.

"Being able to come back, I know it means a lot to the program, it means a lot to all the kids younger than me," said McArdle. "Being a kid that watched these kids growing up and coming up idolizing these guys and now being able to be out there is really cool."

"He was signed because we feel he can compete here."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton says nothing will be given to McArdle or anyone on the roster.

"The competition is huge for ice and roles and whatnot," said Colliton. "Hopefully, from his perspective, we're looking for him to come in and show that he deserves to be here."

"Just come in, play my game, work hard, show them what I got and I think it'll all play out from there."