A Dream Realized
By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer
Every hockey player’s dream is to someday lace up his skates for a National Hockey League team. On Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Mark Arcobello accomplished that dream, suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers in a midweek clash against the Dallas Stars at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
Arcobello, who had 43 points through 45 games this season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, was going through his normal post-practice routine when he received the news of a lifetime.
“I was in the weight room with some of the team for a workout after practice.” Arcobello said, “A scout called me and told me that I was supposed to go to the office, and coach told me.”
“My first reaction was, well, ‘exciting’,” continued Arcobello, “I was ready to go.”
Arcobello was not simply a wallflower in his debut in the “Big Show”, registering 18:15 of ice time while recording two blocked shots and taking ten face-offs in the nationally-televised game on TSN.
“It was really cool,” said Arcobello, “It’s something that I’ve been working for my whole career, since I was a little kid, to play in the NHL. It’s definitely something that is really special to me.”
By living his dream, Arcobello became the ninth player to advance to the NHL after suiting up for the Stockton Thunder. Arcobello played 33 games with the Thunder in 2010-11, totaling 20 points and a 2011 ECHL All-Star Classic Most Valuable Player award after recording a hat trick, just the eighth time a player has scored at least three goals in an All-Star Classic.
Stockton has served as the AA minor league affiliate for the Oilers for seven seasons. During that time, the Thunder has seen nine players—Arcobello, Troy Bodie, Deven Dubnyk, Milan Kytnar, Colin McDonald, Ryan O’Marra, Tim Sestito, Liam Reddox, and Bryan Young—make it to the top level of professional ice hockey.
“I think Stockton has done a great job of developing players.” Arcobello said, “[Thunder head coach] Matt Thomas was really good to me. I enjoyed my time there, and it was definitely a time in my career that I don’t regret. I’m glad that I got that experience. I was able to play games right away, and it was definitely a big part of my development.”
Arcobello played in several big games for Stockton, including the 2011 All-Star Classic. However, what Arcobello remembers most about his time with the Thunder is the team’s loud, passionate, and devoted fan base.
“Just home games in general,” Arcobello said when asked for his most memorable moment as a member of the Thunder, “The fans are great. That’s something that I really took away from playing there. The fan base is awesome. They helped the players out a lot.”
“To be honest,” Arcobello continued, “It was something that I didn’t really expect, for there to be a good amount of fans there. I showed up for those first few games and it was pretty cool. The fans in general are the biggest thing I remember.”
Arcobello is now back with the Barons, who, like the Thunder, have seen several big stars called up after the end of the NHL lockout. Through the craziness of this season and the ups and downs of hockey, Arcobello reached his lifelong goal of playing in the NHL. Arcobello knows that not every player will realize that dream, but he has some words of encouragement for those trying to make it: don’t give up on your dream.
“Keep working hard,” Arcobello said, “It’s all part of the process. You work hard and battle through adversity if you’re going to get the reward eventually. At first, I didn’t want to be sent down [to Stockton]. But it was key to my development. I played a lot of games, and was lucky enough to get called up.”