Future Watch: Mark Arcobello
Yale University product looks to make an impact with Stockton & climb the pro ranks
Mark Arcobello (Photo by Sean Blair / Stockton Thunder)
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)
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)
“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
2010-11 OILERS PROSPECT STATS
|19||25||3||1||4||-4||26||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|20||16||0||2||2||-3||2||Oklahoma city barons (AHL)|
|18||25||7||6||13||-1||28||kootenay ice (WHL)|
|29||26||8||17||25||E||32||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||30||15||25||40||+26||6||saskatoon blades (whl)|
|20||26||7||4||11||-12||17||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|20||16||4||4||8||N/A||23||quinnipiac university (ecac)|
|21||25||1||4||5||-6||8||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||28||7||7||14||N/A||22||timra ik (sel)|
|23||17||2||3||5||-3||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||27||17||23||40||+21||18||ottawa 67's (ohl)|
|31||26||9||14||23||+5||8||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||22||1||13||14||+11||23||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||26||13||13||26||+6||28||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||26||3||5||8||-3||28||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||27||3||7||10||+4||17||edmonton oil kings|
|19||25||12||13||25||+3||19||medicine hat tigets (whl)|
|19||20||5||5||10||N/A||4||ilves tampere (fnl)|
|24||26||13||10||23||+10||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|24||21||2||1||3||-1||31||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||25||4||3||7||-7||18||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|25||23||2||14||16||-7||31||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||5||0||0||0||N/A||22||oklahoma city barons (AHL)|
|21||15||0||4||4||N/A||42||merrimack college (h-east)|
|18||4||0||3||3||N/A||6||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|
|23||26||0||7||7||+3||16||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||30||5||21||26||-4||30||regina pats (whl)|
|19||22||0||0||0||-12||30||chicago steel (ushl)|
|18||30||9||23||32||+6||37||prince george cougars (whl)|
|21||22||1||3||4||-1||22||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||15||0||4||4||+4||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||26||5||12||17||-7||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||25||1||5||6||+1||58||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||19||12||5||2||0||2.55||.914||medicine hat tigers (whl)|
|36||15||10||4||1||0||2.34||.920||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||9||7||0||1||1||2.26||.916||stockton thunder (ECHL)|
|19||20||11||9||0||0||3.00||.904||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|
Author: Mike Benton | Stockton Thunder