"There's no friends on the ice."
They met through a mutual friend whom Mark Arcobello played with at Yale University.
The Oilers centre and New York Islanders defenceman Matt Donovan have since become good friends.
"I became really good friends and roomed with Sean Backman, who was one of his really good friends at Yale," said Donovan. "I kind of met him through him and then I lived in Arcobello's house last year in Milford (Connecticut). I've just grown to know him and talked to him a lot so we have a pretty good relationship. He's a good kid, so I've grown to be pretty good friends with him."
When Donovan moved back east to play for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, American Hockey League affiliate of the Islanders, he lived in the house that the Oilers forward had bought in his hometown a few years earlier.
The friends also had the chance to visit during the AHL All-Star Classic last season in which both attended as all-star representatives for their respective teams.
The two have tracked each other's career progress this season as both attempt to solidify spots on NHL rosters.
"I saw the other night that he had three assists and I text him to say congrats. He's having a good year so far and he's shown that he can play at the NHL level."
"I think we can relate in that way," said Arcobello. "We both are trying to make a name for ourselves and earn a permanent spot. He's been doing pretty well, he had a pretty good start and has his first goal already. I follow him and check his stats whenever they play and he seems to be doing well and I'm looking forward to playing against him."
Donovan says that in the week leading up tonight's game it's been a mixture of trash talking and good luck wishing between the two.
"It's a little bit of both," said the Islander. "We're both kind of in the same boat of just trying to make it in the NHL full-time and just trying to stay here and be in the lineup every night. It's a little bit of both. We have a good relationship so we talk a lot but just looking forward to playing against him tonight."
Tonight the two face-off against each other for the first time in their young NHL careers.
"I told him I'm going to run him through the glass," Donovan said jokingly with a laugh. "I'll see if I can get a hit or two on him."
When Arcobello heard the comment he couldn't help but laugh and issue his own challenge.
"He said that? He can go ahead and try."