By Thomas Becker
Maritime hockey fans know his name well, but he'll look a bit differently this season when he dons a new set of colours other than his usual blue, red and white.
After a historic four-year run with the Summerside Western Capitals, Brodie MacArthur is now a UPEI Panther, and head coach Forbes MacPherson is thrilled to add him to a young and talented nucleus.
"Brodie does things most others can't. He sees the ice very well and is able to get others involved because of his natural ability and vision," MacPherson said. "If he can do these things at our pace and level then he has tremendous potential."
That's the million-dollar question. Can MacArthur transition from Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) superstar to productive AUS standout?
He certainly believes he can.
"It's going to be a big jump, but like any jump forward once you adjust to the speed and strength of the league, I think it will be a smooth transition," MacArthur said.
There's no denying his ability on the ice. The 21-year-old can flat out score. In 196 games with the Capitals, the six-foot-one forward amassed 132 goals and 225 assists. His 357 points are the most in MHL history, as he eclipsed Duane Saulnier's 30-year record late last season.
It's easy to get caught up in his gaudy numbers, but no one knows for certain how his UPEI tenure will play out in the end. That said, the Summerside native will get a chance to make an immediate impact, especially with the departure of all-star forward Kameron Kielly, who signed with the AHL's Iowa Wild in the offseason. MacArthur could conceivably slide into the now vacant spot and become a top-three forward with his new squad. At least that's what MacPherson is hoping for.
"We are very intrigued to see how quickly Brodie can adjust to the league and where he can take his game. He will be given every opportunity to prove himself."
Even though he's coming in with an impressive list of accolades that includes back-to-back MHL Player of the Year awards (2018-19 and 2019-20) and three all-star nods, MacArthur said he doesn't feel any more pressure just because the Panthers lost their top scorer.
"Losing a guy with that skill level is hard to replace, but after watching some of last year's games I think there's a lot of guys who can step up any given night."
Still, MacArthur wants to be an impactful piece to this puzzle and he's doing everything he can to prepare for the tough test ahead.
"I'm working out, trying to get stronger and faster so I'm ready when the season starts," he said. "I don't have many expectations for my first year, I'm just going to try to get better and better as the year goes on."
Once he suits up for UPEI for the first time, MacArthur will be reunited with former linemate T.J. Shea, who joined the Panthers last season. The dynamic pair did a lot of damage with the Capitals in three seasons and now that they're together again, there's hope that their synergy will reignite each other's games.
"When he was done with the Caps, we didn't know if we'd have another chance to play on the same team," he said. "Now that we're reunited, it's pretty awesome, not just because we work so well together on the ice but because we're good friends off the ice too."