WATERLOO - Dierks Bentley skated onto the Young Arena ice almost unnoticed.
The country music superstar, decked out in his own Black Hawks jersey and his signature curly hair peeking out from under the navy blue helmet, blended in perfectly with the young players flanking him. Those who didn't already know the chart-topper was in the building were never any wiser. And that is exactly how they wanted it.
For nearly an hour Bentley skated and scrimmaged with the young Hawks, stopping intermittently to chat with a player or coach and even sign a few autographs, including ones for the opposing team. Bentley is in town Friday for a concert at McElroy Auditorium.
"This is a huge honor," said Dan Sova, a Hawk defenseman. "He is such a great singer, this is just the coolest thing. He's out here, just hanging out with the boys. It's crazy that someone of his stature would take the time to come out and skate with us."
Sova and Bucky Doren, the KOEL-FM (K-98.5) program director and half of the station's morning show, were doing some radio spots a few weeks ago when Sova jokingly asked Doren to talk with Bentley about skating with the team. Doren said just a few hours later, the plans were in motion.
"It was crazy, I was just about to give him my cell phone number, so we could finalize the plans, and then he offered his," Doren said. "So all morning I've had ‘Dierks' popping up on my cell phone."
Bentley, who spent most of this year on the road, first got excited about hockey when the Predators started playing in Nashville. He joined an adult "beer league" and keeps up his skills on the road by sometimes skating with local teams.
"I usually get a workout in before a show and this is a lot more fun than going to the gym," Bentley said when the morning pre-skate was over. "I just love playing hockey."
He usually keeps a gear bag on the bus, just in case a pick-up game opportunity comes his way. The Hawks on the bench were pretty impressed with Bentley's skills, given that most of his practice time comes on the bus playing NHL 10 on an Xbox 360. After a quick scrimmage, Bentley was +2 on the day, with a goal and assist. He scored another goal during a shooting drill that elicited a typical celebration skate from the country singer and lots of cheers from the players.
Black Hawk forward Brock Montpetit watched all the excitement from the opposing team's bench. He never partakes in the optional pre-game skates, though word that one of his favorite singers would be on the ice almost convinced him to suit up Friday.
"There was that thought for a moment, but the game is more important. I don't want to mess up the usual routing," he said. "Watching him skate is still pretty cool."