By MIKE ASHMORE
Special to ECHL.com
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Mark Arcobello is one of the ECHL’s true success stories.
An undrafted free agent out of Yale signed by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010, the Milford, Ct. native put his name on the map by winning All-Star Game MVP honors as a member of the Stockton Thunder in 2011, and eventually earned an NHL roster spot after 2 ½ seasons in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons.
Prior to the Oilers game in Uniondale against the New York Islanders, ECHL.com was able to catch up with the 25-year-old forward in the visiting dressing room for an exclusive one-on-one chat.
MIKE ASHMORE, ECHL.COM: The last time we spoke last season, you were still grinding away in the AHL and hoping for that first NHL opportunity. How are things different now for you compared to then?
MARK ARCOBELLO: “I think it’s just the experience, getting the games early. I find that the more games I play at a certain level, the easier it is for me to adapt. It’s nice getting some games in a row here. I find that I’m getting more comfortable every day.”
ASHMORE: Was there a point where you thought this opportunity might not happen for you?
ARCOBELLO: “Yeah, for sure. Especially earlier in my career, when I was in the (ECHL). The expectations weren’t very high, but I think once I kind of had success in the American League, it was a possibility and it was something that I was going to work for.”
ASHMORE: I hear a lot from guys who’ve come through the E about a need to be self-motivated in that league at times. How much does almost being forced to bust your tail and really maintain a solid work ethic there benefit you today?
ARCOBELLO: “Yeah, you can’t really take a night off. If you want to make it to the next level, you’ve got to keep going night in and night out and just try to get that opportunity at the next level. It was definitely a motivating factor, not having that job security or the opportunity to play in the American League at that time. I think it was kind of the same thing when I was in the American League trying to get to the NHL. You always do better and you always play at a higher level, I feel like.”
ASHMORE: Is there anything you can say that you’ve taken away from your first few games with Edmonton in terms of a learning experience?
ARCOBELLO: “I wouldn’t say so much as a learning experience, it’s just my overall style of play has kind of adapted. I’m trying to play smarter and that much quicker. I think it isn’t a learning experience as much as it is a playing experience, trying to get my game to the next level.”
ASHMORE: Have you been able to reflect on just how far you’ve come over the past couple of years?
ARCOBELLO: “Yeah, a little bit. People remind me all the time. I’m not the only guy that’s done it, though. It was a long path, but it was a good path. I learned a lot along the way, and it’s been fun.”