The day after Christmas, there will be one more present for the MacArthur family.
Clifton Park native Pete MacArthur signed a contract with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder on Saturday, and could play his first home game with the team at the Glens Falls Civic Center this Saturday against the Manchester Monarchs.
The eighth-year pro who has spent a chunk of his career in Europe said some family members still haven’t been able to see him play since his collegiate days at Boston University.
“Good timing, right?” MacArthur said. “Everyone’s excited, for sure. It’s been a long time for some, and some have never seen me play a pro game.”
MacArthur, 30, played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Shenendehowa before transferring to Northwood School, a prep school in Lake Placid.
After his final game with BU, he finished the 2007-08 season with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers on an amateur tryout contract, playing his only nine games in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. The rest of his pro career has been spent far away from home.
The forward has played in 41 ECHL games (18 goals, 34 assists, 52 points) and 190 AHL games (29-57-86). His last 31⁄2 seasons have been played in Germany and Austria.
He joined the Thunder, who have the best points percentage in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference (.739, 34 points in 23 games), for last Saturday’s game in Norfolk, a 2-1 loss, and nearly scored the tying goal in the final seconds. The Thunder had an extra attacker on with their goalie pulled.
“I think when I shot there were six or seven seconds left,” MacArthur said. “It was a bobbled puck at the blue line, and I just turned and shot at the net. The goalie didn’t see it. It just hit his toe.”
After that game, he climbed on the bus for the 12-hour ride back to Glens Falls. That and the time on the ice and in the dressing room Saturday is the only time he’s had with his new team, as the players scattered for their brief Christmas break once they got off the bus. MacArthur said, though, he made the most of that short time.
“They’re very welcoming and make you feel part of the group right away, which is nice,” he said. “The bus ride was very fun. We got to know each other a little bit on the long ride home. Hopefully, we can jell and I can be a good part of the team and help win games. They seem to be a close-knit group of guys. There’s a lot of chatter in the locker room, and they seem to like each other.”
One of his new teammates is another Shen product, defenseman Patch Alber, who joined the team Oct. 24.
Juan de la Rocha remembers a scouting trip to see Shen play Glens Falls when he was assisting Todd Templeton with the Niskayuna squad.
“We had to put some type of game plan together, and the game plan was ‘shut down Pete MacArthur,’ ” de la Rocha said.
“It was tough to contain him, I’ll put it that way. He had a skill level that was way beyond the upperclassmen. It was tough to tell he was a younger kid.
“He was fast, he was electric with the puck.”
De la Rocha is hoping to make it to Glens Falls this Saturday, a plan originally made just to see Alber play. Now he said he’s excited at the prospect of seeing MacArthur, as well.
MacArthur has, for years, trained local players during the summer both at The Hockey Hut and Clifton Park Arena, but he said being able to play here again is pretty exciting.
“I always tell people the most fun I ever had playing hockey was at Shen,” Pete said. “Not just because my dad was the coach, but also because it’s not a business and you’re just doing it for fun. You don’t think about what it could lead to in the future, you’re just out there having a ball with your buddies, playing a game.”
MacArthur’s former coach at Shen was glad to hear the news. Not just for the chance to see him play, either.
Bill MacArthur coached both his sons at Shen — Pete and older brother Trevor.
“I’m just glad he’s here,” Bill said. “At 30, he’s probably looking more at the end of his career than at the beginning of his career, but he can still play quite a while. He’s got a real young body. He hasn’t had anything major, other than one shoulder surgery, and that is well-healed. He stays in great shape. He really works all season to keep his body younger.”
It will be nice, too, he said, to have Pete and wife Cristina, along with their new addition to the family — 6-month-old William, named for his granddad — around for Christmas. The boys and their sister Courtney’s family are all home.
“It’s the first time we’ve had our whole family together in eight years,” Bill said. “We have five grandchildren now, so our family’s grown quite a bit. That’s a real nice present for us to have.”