When Mark Arcobello ’10 first stepped into Ingalls Rink, few could have predicted the mark he would leave. Even the 7-year-old himself could not have foreseen his strides being forever etched into the ice.
Arcobello, now an MVP and two-time champion in the Swiss National League (NL), got his start just 20 minutes away in Milford, Connecticut. From the very onset of Arcobello’s career, it was easy to get entranced by his liquid-like wrister, ineffable clap bomb or flashy passing — but the Bulldog’s hustle and persistence stood out. Whether his team was down two with under a minute left or holding a comfortable lead, he gave it his all during every play.
“He’s a very good guy, and he was also just a phenomenal hockey player,” defenseman Kevin Peel ’12 said. “It’s not surprising to me that he’s had the success he has had. He absolutely dominated and I just remember him being the funniest guy I went to school with.”
The local hero first laced up his skates in pursuit of his older brother, David, but quickly made a name for himself. A star throughout youth hockey, Arcobello wound up donning the Jesuits’ sweater at Fairfield Prep for three years in high school. His first taste of success at Ingalls came in March of 2004, when he skated off as a Connecticut High School Division I Champion. While doubts remained about the forward’s ability to lead the team after his brother’s graduation, Arcobello quickly quashed them. He claimed Player of the Year honors en route to leading the Jesuits to a second consecutive state championship, but it did not come easily.
Without his former linemates, Arcobello faced defenses which were designed to stop him. Rather than backing down, he accepted the challenge and thrived. Arcobello finished his final season for Prep as the leader in goals, assists, points and was tied for the highest defensive rating. Opponents tried to contain him physically, but Arcobello shined, racking up 116 career points.
“He is like Wayne Gretzky,” a Notre Dame goaltender told the New Haven Register back in 2005. “All of our attention was on him and not on the rest of the team … He is just an awesome player. He is one of a kind.”
After playing one season for Salisbury Prep — where he led the team in points and picked up another championship — Arcobello took the short trip to New Haven, and the rest was history.
In his first season with the Bulldogs, Arcobello silenced his critics yet again. Not only did he lead the team in assists, he also demonstrated that he truly had ice in his veins as he notched a team-high three game-winning goals.
“My first year was also Keith Allain’s first year as coach,” Arcobello said. “Over my first two years we worked hard to build a stronger team. Getting the chance to play in the Tournament as one of the top-16 teams in the country was a big accomplishment for us.”
On paper, it’s hard to dispute Arcobello’s impact over the rest of his Yale career. Four consecutive 20-plus point seasons, various All-Ivy selections, seven game-winning goals in a single season (ranking second nationally), and the list goes on and on.
In Arcobello’s final season, the Blue and White fell short in its pursuit of the national championship. The team’s journey ended in the Northeast Regional final, but that game remains very indicative of his offensive prowess. Arcobello found the back of the net three times and ended the game with six points in a 9–7 loss to the eventual champion, Boston College.
While the NCAA Championship eluded him, Arcobello was instrumental in setting the tone for the future 2013 National Championship-winning squad.
“That whole class, they were instrumental in having a great culture,” goaltender Ryan Rondeau ’11 said. “They changed the way the team was going, and they were instrumental to the team’s success and that eventual national championship.”
Former players, coaches and fans alike echoed that sentiment; Arcobello was one of the hardest-working guys on the ice. But following graduation, the 5-foot-9 forward struggled to find his footing in professional hockey.
Arcobello went undrafted, but eventually signed with the Edmonton Oilers. After spending some time in the minor league, the former Bulldog finally suited up for his first NHL game in the 2012–13 season.
“I actually worked for the Oilers when he was there, so watching him build his way up has not been surprising at all,” Rondeau said. “One thing I would say he didn’t get credit for is that he wasn’t afraid to play a full two-way game. He got credit for the offense but not always the defense, which I appreciated as a goalie.”
In the subsequent years, Arcobello would bounce around between NHL teams and various minor league affiliates. During the 2014–15 season, Arcobello became the third player in NHL history to play on four different teams within a single season.
In 2015, Arcobello suited up for Team USA alongside two other former Bulldogs and head coach Keith Allain ’80. He helped the U.S. win a bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF Championships, wherein he skated in all 10 games. He would also go on to represent the Red, White and Blue in the 2018 Olympics.
“My Olympic experience was amazing,” Arcobello said. “Besides my first NHL game, it was the most memorable hockey moment of my career. Being able to play on that stage and represent the USA was a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Although his NHL career did not go as planned, Arcobello found success overseas both personally and career-wise.
Arcobello signed with SC Bern of the Swiss National League and soon showed fans that he had what it takes. Less than a minute into his very first game, Arcobello found the back of the net against the SCL Tigers, a goal which would mark the first of many to come. He finished that season with 25 goals and 30 points, enough to earn NL Regular Season MVP honors.
“After going up and down between the AHL and NHL for five years, I decided I wanted a more stable environment to play in,” Arcobello said. “My first year in Switzerland was the most fun I’ve had playing pro hockey … I am able to spend a lot of time with my wife, Mollie, and son, Hunter, since we do not travel very far for games. My success hockey-wise was just a bonus.”
In that same season, as the league’s top scorer, he collected 20 points in the playoffs en route to winning the 2017 NL title for Bern. Arcobello would go on to win another league title and has continually placed in the top 10 for scoring throughout his time in Switzerland. Starting in August, he will play for HC Lugano.
Although Arcobello was not able to hoist that NCAA Championship trophy himself, Yale hockey will remember number 26 and his role in building that championship team.
“I could speak all day about Mark and the impact he had on our program,” Allain said. “Although Mark’s class graduated in 2010 and we won the National Championships in 2013, I can unequivocally say that we do not win that championship without the huge contribution of his class.”
Arcobello will go down in the history books in the top 20 for all-time points as a Bulldog, as well as tied in third for career games played.
Akshar Agarwal | firstname.lastname@example.org