Chicago Sun-Times: Kostka, Stanton Battle For Blackhawks' Last Defenseman Spot - UMass Athletics

Chicago Sun-Times: Kostka, Stanton Battle For Blackhawks' Last Defenseman Spot

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Former UMass hockey captain Mike Kostka, coming off a stellar rookie campaign with the Toronto last season, is currently in preseason camp with the Chicago Blackhawks and looking to earn a roster spot for the upcoming 2013-14 season after signing with the organization this past summer.

Mark Lazerus had this piece in today's Chicago Sun-Times:

When he's out on the ice, Michael Kostka isn't wondering if one bad pass, one wrong stride or one lost opponent is going to be the one that costs him a spot in the NHL this season. He's not constantly looking over his shoulder to see if Joel Quenneville's glare has found him. He's not sweating every little detail. He's just out there playing hockey.

But when he's sitting around the hotel with nothing to keep his mind occupied? That's a different story.

"I've gotten to a point where I feel I can relax out there and just play my game," Kostka said. "If anything, I'm more stressed when I have free time, and you're sitting there, and you've got friends texting you, 'Are you [on the team]?' Man, shut up! I don't know! I'm trying not to think about that right now!"

There are only four days left before the Blackhawks open the 2013-14 season against Washington on Tuesday night, and the final roster likely will be set shortly after Saturday night's preseason finale against the same Capitals.

And while five forwards are jockeying for three spots, on defense, it's a one-on-one matchup. Joel Quenneville said he will be keeping an eighth defenseman out of camp, so it's Kostka, the veteran, against Ryan Stanton, the rookie. One of those two will be a member of the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. One of them will be a Rockford IceHog.

Read more of Kostka, Stanton -- friends and rivals -- battle for Blackhawks' last defenseman spot

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