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Future Watch: Mark Arcobello

by Mike Benton / Edmonton Oilers
Mark Arcobello (Photo by Sean Blair / Stockton Thunder)

One year ago, Mark Arcobello's world was a never ending laundry list of to-do items.

As a student and senior forward on the men's hockey team at Yale University, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States, his obligations as a political science major involved furious note taking for four hours in class, cramming through an average of three hours a night with homework and managing time for a bite to eat.

Then there's time for hockey.

Labouring his way through the 3:00 p.m. weekday practices and a total of 131 games in four seasons, it eventually all paid off at the end of his 2009-10 season. The diminutive and crafty playmaking centre at 5-foot-9, was rewarded with a two-way contract through the Edmonton Oilers affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Oklahoma City Barons after he finished with a career-high 36 points  and 21 assists in 34 games as a senior.

His stats placed him at the entry level of the Oilers farm system, the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL, where more labour calls in an effort to carve a career-path that mirrors NHL success stories such as elite forwards Martin St. Louis (5-foot-8), Steve Sullivan (5-foot-8) and Brian Gionta (5-foot-7).

“The difference with those guys is that they're so much faster,” said Arcobello, a Milford, Connecticut native who has an All-American and two All-Ivy League honors in his trophy case and leads Thunder rookies with nine points in 18 games. “They aren't the biggest but they make up for it in speed and skill. So I've been working on that. I'm trying to get faster, stronger and become a quicker player.”

Those refined traits, two months into the minor league season, have opened the doors for extra ice time, including stints on the Thunder power-play as a fourth forward to help run the point.

"I think his vision is one of his best assets along with his speed,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas.  “He knows how to find open guys and hit the holes offensively. Being up top, we figured he'd be able to see a lot and make plays."

Mark Arcobello (Photo by Sean Blair / Stockton Thunder)
Recently, Arcobello has answered the bell. His two goals in a three game road trip last week helped the Thunder retain first place in the Pacific Division, in a rare sweep of the host Victoria Salmon Kings. He buried a power-play goal from the right side in a Wednesday 3-2 shootout victory.

He then added an empty net goal in the last 20 seconds of play from nearly 140 feet two nights later, starting when he poked the puck out of a battle along the right boards to help the Thunder close out a 5-3 win.

More wins are piling up for the Thunder, like their affiliate brethren in Oklahoma City and, as of recently, Edmonton as well. For Arcobello, the wins, point-scoring and confidence go hand-in-hand as his proficiency of the pro style of game continues to grow.

“It's different from the college game,” said Arcobello. “It's faster but there's more emphasis on control. It takes a little bit of time to get used to, coming straight out of college, when you're more free to use your skills. Here it's more system-oriented and there's demand to stick to the system.”

The motive to get right to work begins when Arcobello arrives at Stockton Arena for a 10:00 a.m. practice or morning skate, or at 5:00 p.m. for an upcoming night game.

Upon entering the room, Arcobello, like any other player who dons a Thunder sweater every night, is encountered with a gripping reminder on the dressing room wall of a where hard work ethic will take a minor league hockey player.

Opening the door, there are framed photos of seven former Thunder players who have made their debut in the National Hockey League, including goaltender Devan Dubnyk, forward Liam Reddox and centre Ryan O'Marra. Above the seven photos is an inscription in imposing, bold black letters: “MAKING THE JUMP.”

Nothing says motivation like a little reminder of what the future might hold.

“I look at (the photos) every day,” said Arcobello. “It's obviously something to work for. I understand it's a league that develops players and we have teammates and coaches that are helping you get to the next level. The guys on the wall are the result of hard work and the progress of your development as a player.”

Mark Arcobello (Photo by Sean Blair / Stockton Thunder)
He comes from a school that has produced five United States presidents, two Major League Baseball commissioners and even an intriguing list of entertainment figures (“Slap Shot” star Paul Newman among them). It would only come naturally that the teasing from fellow teammates comes during a routine card game of cribbage, assuming Arcobello uses his brains for total domination.

“It'll happen during games but I think (teammate and former Princeton defenseman) Daryl Marcoux is smarter than me,” said Arcobello with a sly gin. “I hear it a little bit though.”

Arcobello's downtime, once dominated with countless computer, notebook and library time on Yale's campus, is now replaced by relaxing with video games, a good book – he's reading J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye for the very first time – and even getting a head start on pondering life after hockey.

“Maybe in finance, we'll see where it takes me,” said Arcobello. “My dad is a lawyer, but I don't see myself going to law school though.”

As long as his skills continue to grow on the ice, Arcobello will have plenty of time to keep mulling through his options as his dream of reaching the NHL remains in full focus.

According to Thomas, the brains Arcobello possesses are synonymous with his growth as a refined playmaker with speed.

"He's got good hockey sense and it takes a pretty special individual to get a four year degree at a demanding academic school like Yale and be a fully committed Division-I athlete,” said Thomas. “He's a focused human being which will serve him well in the pro game."

For Arcobello, it's mind over matter on the way up the Oilers ladder


Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 25 3 1 4 -4 26 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 19 3 2 5 N/A 16 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 16 0 2 2 -3 2 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 25 7 6 13 -1 28 kootenay ice (WHL)
Alexandre Giroux   29 26 8 17 25 E 32 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 30 15 25 40 +26 6 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen   20 26 7 4 11 -12 17 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 16 4 4 8 N/A 23 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 25 1 4 5 -6 8 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 28 7 7 14 N/A 22 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 17 2 3 5 -3 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 27 17 23 40 +21 18 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Brad Moran   31 26 9 14 23 +5 8 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra *
23 22 1 13 14 +11 23 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark  *
23 26 13 13 26 +6 28 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 26 3 5 8 -3 28 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 27 3 7 10 +4 17 edmonton oil kings
Tyler Pitlick   19 25 12 13 25 +3 19 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 20 5 5 10 N/A 4 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox   24 26 13 10 23 +10 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 21 2 1 3 -1 31 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris Vande Velde   23 25 4 3 7 -7 18 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Shawn Belle 
25 23 2 14 16 -7 31 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jordan Bendfeld   22 5 0 0 0 N/A 22 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Kyle Bigos   21 15 0 4 4 N/A 42 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 4 0 3 3 N/A 6 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney   23 26 0 7 7 +3 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 30 5 21 26 -4 30 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 22 0 0 0 -12 30 chicago steel (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 30 9 23 32 +6 37 prince george cougars (whl)
Johan Motin   21 22 1 3 4 -1 22 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot   28 15 0 4 4 +4 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry   23 26 5 12 17 -7 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante   21 25 1 5 6 +1 58 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 19 12 5 2 0 2.55 .914 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Martin Gerber
36 15 10 4 1 0 2.34 .920 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton   22 9 7 0 1 1 2.26 .916 stockton thunder (ECHL)
Olivier Roy   19 20 11 9 0 0 3.00 .904 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)

Author: Mike Benton | Stockton Thunder

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