Clifton Park’s MacArthur getting last on-ice kicks with 3ICE

Clifton Park's Pete MacArthur is introduced as head coach of the Adirondack Thunder.

Clifton Park's Pete MacArthur is introduced as head coach of the Adirondack Thunder.

Memo to the Adirondack Thunder opponents: If you reach 3-on-3 overtime against the Thunder next season, you’ll be at a disadvantage.

That’s because Thunder head coach and Clifton Park native Peter MacArthur is having a great experience this summer as a player on Team Mullen in 3ICE, a 3-on-3 ice hockey tournament that runs on Saturdays from June 18 to Aug. 20.

Each of the six teams is  coached by a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame: Joe Mullen, Bryan Trottier, Larry Murphy, John LeClair, Grant Fuhr and Guy Carbonneau. Each team may have six skaters and a goalie. There is also a taxi squad of players to fill in, which MacArthur originally was on, but due to certain players having visa problems, he is now a full-time member of Team Mullen.

“An email got sent to [Adirondack Thunder governor] Claude Loiselle, and somehow it landed in my lap,” MacArthur said by telephone. “And of course I was really interested, a chance to be around legends of the game like that. It’s been unbelievable.”

The tournament started in Las Vegas and moved to Denver on June 25. It will make stops in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 2, Hershey, Pennsylvania on July 9, London, Ontario on July 16, Pittsburgh on July 23, Quebec City on July 30, Nashville on Aug. 6 and Las Vegas again, for the championship, on Aug. 20.

“I signed for the whole summer, so it’s an eight-week commitment, and hopefully, if we win, we get to a ninth week,” said MacArthur, who was named the Thunder’s head coach on June 21.

After two weeks, Team Mullen is 5-1 and has a comfortable eight-point lead in the standings. But there’s a lot of hockey left to be played.

MacArthur, who has been a professional player since 2008, was training to keep playing when the opportunity arose. Then, in light of the Thunder firing Alex Loh, he applied for the coaching position. As he said, though, “It’s too good of an opportunity not to take advantage of.”

In addition to the Hall-of-Fame coaches, MacArthur said the variety of high-caliber players he gets to be around is inspiring. Many of them have AHL and/or overseas experience. Former New Jersey Devil Joe Whitney, a Team Mullen teammate of MacArthur’s, is the tournament’s leading scorer thus far with 15 points. MacArthur has three goals and three assists.

“It’s just my passion,” MacArthur said. “If you have a passion, you want to reach the highest level of it that you can, and I think it can be said that Mullen, Carbonneau, Fuhr, Trottier, Murphy and LeClair are at the top of the food chain of hockey.”

The fact that he and the team are doing so well speaks to their dedication, especially since travel difficulties nearly caused a few of them to miss Denver.

“Me and a few teammates and coach Mullen were trying to fly out of LaGuardia, and our flight [Friday night] got canceled,” MacArthur said. “Thankfully, we left on a flight at Saturday, 7 a.m., got into Denver at 9:45 their time, took a shuttle and drove 45 minutes to the rink, played the tournament and I was back in Albany by 9:15 the next morning.”

It’s not as if the hockey wasn’t tiring enough. Games consist of two eight-minute halves, with a running clock that only stops for penalties and injuries. If there is a penalty, though, it goes straight to a penalty shot, and the affected coach gets to pick the shooter. Also, goalies can play the puck anywhere on the ice, and if the puck comes off the netting above the glass and back into play, it’s a live puck. If the score is tied after regulation, it goes to one-round shootouts until a winner is determined.

MacArthur is just thrilled he has the experience, because as he joked at his Thunder press conference, he may not be able to skate with these types of players next summer.

“You’re playing with talented, dedicated, smart guys,” MacArthur said. “Some want to get an opportunity, some want to make a little money; it checks a whole lot of boxes. I get to play a little extra because I know I’m done playing 5 on 5.”

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