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Hockey DayPerfect timing for Lloydminster's MacArthur ahead of Hockey Day

Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014 | 11:20 AM

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Clarke MacArthur of the Ottawa Senators during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Harry How/Getty Images) Clarke MacArthur of the Ottawa Senators during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Tossed on the scrap heap last spring by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Clarke MacArthur, who was raised in Hockey Day in Canada's Lloydminster, has found a new home and has flourished with the Ottawa Senators, writes Tim Wharnsby.

A few months ago, Clarke MacArthur found himself in a situation where he had to prove himself once again, just like he did as a young hockey player growing up in Lloydminster, Alta.

Tossed on the scrap heap by the Toronto Maple Leafs at age 28 last spring, MacArthur joined his fourth team in five seasons when he signed a two-year, $6.5-million deal with the Ottawa Senators. All MacArthur has done is check in with an impressive 15 goals, including four game winners, and 33 points in 44 games.

With Hockey Day in Canada to be celebrated in Lloydminster on both sides of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border next Saturday, MacArthur's timing has been impeccable. He enters the Senators game in Nashville against the Predators Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada with a four-game goal streak, including a pair of game winners in the Senators recent 4-0-1 run.

"I've been fortunate to have some nice chemistry with Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan," said MacArthur of his Senators linemates. "It's worked out real well for us and it's been a nice fit."

Finding a hockey fit hasn't always been easy for MacArthur. Because of his 5-foot-4 stature as a bantam with the Strathcona Triple-A Warriors, he wasn't taken in the WHL draft, even though he had put up big numbers, 99 points in 38 games.

"I was so upset [about not being drafted]," said the now 6-foot, 195-pound son of Deborah and Dean. "My parents were upset. My Dad was my coach growing up. He believed in me. My Mom and Dad pushed me to not give up and I made it to the WHL through the back door."

Proves himself

Through a local Lloydminster scout, Mike Weninger, MacArthur received a tryout with the Medicine Hat Tigers in 2001, but he was among the final cuts. Cast off again, he found a home with the Drayton Valley Thunder, where he enjoyed a seven-inch growth spurt during the season and led the Thunder to the Alberta Junior Hockey League championship.

The following season the Tigers didn't make the same mistake. They found a spot for MacArthur. In his second season with Medicine Hat, the Tigers advanced to the Memorial Cup. In his third season, he made the Canadian world junior team alongside Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter and Shea Weber. The team won gold.

"I owe a lot to [former Tigers coach] Willie Desjardins," MacArthur said. Desjardins now coaches the Texas Stars, the AHL team for the Dallas Stars.

"He did a lot for my development," MacArthur added. "Even though I grew seven inches I was still pretty light. But Willie stuck by me and helped me so much."

When MacArthur thinks back to Lloydminster, he fondly recalls the sacrifices his parents allow him to pursue his hockey dream. His Dad often would pick him up after school to go for a skate in the Archie Miller Arena. Then the two would head home for supper, only to return to the rink later in the evening for a team practice.

'Great place to grow up'

"When I think back to Lloyd I think about a great place to grow up," MacArthur said. "It's a small town where hockey was everything. You had ice for seven months of the year because it was always minus-30 [Celsius]."

MacArthur looked up to local products like Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, the recently retired Wade Redden and defenceman Lance Ward, who played 209 NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks as well as a few more seasons in Sweden and Germany.

MacArthur's Uncle Ken also was an inspiration. He played at the University of Denver and a couple more years on the Canadian national team.

"I remember when I was young and Ken was with the national team, he played a game against the Russians in Lloyd," the younger MacArthur recalled. "It made me want to become a hockey player even more.

"It's pretty cool for Hockey Day to be in Lloyd."

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