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Hockey: Archibald remains an ace with Penguins

Throughout his high school and college career, Josh Archibald has always been an ace. He amassed 157 points in a three-year career with the Brainerd Warriors and was Mr. Hockey finalist. He accumulated 94 points in three seasons at the University...

Submitted Photo / Josh Archibald hoists the Stanley Cup after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 6.
Submitted Photo / Josh Archibald hoists the Stanley Cup after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 6.

Throughout his high school and college career, Josh Archibald has always been an ace.

He amassed 157 points in a three-year career with the Brainerd Warriors and was Mr. Hockey finalist. He accumulated 94 points in three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he set school and career marks for goals scored in a season. At UNO, he was a Hobey Baker Finalist, was voted the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's Player and Forward of the Year and was an NCAA First-Team All-American.

In June, he became a "Black Ace" with the Pittsburgh Penguins during their run to the Stanley Cup championship.

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Josh Archibald

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  • Team: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
  • Number: 15
  • Position: Right wing
  • Shoots: Right
  • Height: 5-10
  • Weight: 176
  • Birthdate: 10-06-92
  • Birthplace: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Black Aces are players are called up from the American Hockey League when NHL teams are allowed to expand their rosters when they make the playoffs. Barring an injury to another player, Black Aces do not see any playoff action. They do not participate in warm-ups or travel with the team for road games. They do not practice with the team, either, instead participating in separate sessions reserved for extra skaters.

The Black Aces term comes from the dead man's hand, the fabled poker hand containing black aces and two eights. As legend has it, gunfighter, lawman and gambler Wild Bill Hickok was holding the hand when he was murdered in 1876.

Eddie Shore, an NHL star in the 1920s and 1930s and later an AHL owner and coach, is believed to have brought the term to hockey, adopting it to refer to players working their way back into the lineup.

Archibald was one of seven Wilkes-Barre/Scranton players called up by the Penguins and spent almost all of June with the NHL club.

"It was a great experience, to be around that organization. Going through everything they went through was a pretty special experience," Archibald said. "To be able to see (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, what they go through in the playoffs, what it takes to get there. It's not just a show-up-to-the-rink kind of thing. It's your whole day and your whole night.

"It showed me what I need to do to get there, what I have to do when I'm there. It was an eye-opener but it was really a great experience."

Even though he didn't practice with or play for the Penguins, Archibald did have the opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup after Pittsburgh defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game Six to win the championship series four games to two.

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"It was a surreal experience," he said. "I never thought I would be in a position like that at this age or at this stage of my life. Just to be part of it-I wasn't in my gear and I wasn't necessarily playing-was very special.

"I got a lot of questions about 'How heavy is it?' When you lift it above your head, it feels like a feather, with all the adrenaline and all the excitement going through you. It was a very exciting time in my life."

Archibald was summoned to the NHL following a solid season at WBS where he scored nine goals and totaled 18 points in 69 games and was a plus 1. In 10 Calder Cup playoff games, he scored a goal and finished a minus 3. The right wing has evolved from a scorer in high school and college to bumping up the energy level and killing penalties in the pros.

"I use my speed and my physicality that just brings up my level of play and the energy level," he said. "I'm kind of the 'Energizer Bunny' out there, getting the team going, getting on the forecheck. That pretty much was what I was through the whole playoffs too in Wilkes-Barre.

"I just try to do everything. I got into a big role killing penalties there the later part of the season and through the playoffs. I'm just doing whatever I can to help the team."

At WBS, Archibald skated a regular shift in addition to playing on the penalty kill unit.

"I kind of got thrown around," he said. "Depending how the lineup was, I would play first-line minutes a good majority of the second half of the year and I would be the fourth-line energy guy too. My role didn't change from first line to fourth. I played the same way. When I was on first line, I got other guys the puck, get in there on the forecheck, make the defense cough the puck up so we could get in there and get some 'O' zone time."

This summer, he's staying with relatives in the Twin Cities, training at Velocity Hockey Center in Edina and playing for the RBC team in the 4-on-4 DaBeauty League that features NHL players and premier amateurs at Braemar Arena in Edina. The league plays three games from 6 to 9:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 9-10.

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Captains include Alex Goligoski (Arizona Coyotes), Ryan McDonagh (N.Y. Rangers), David Backes (Boston Bruins), Nick Bjugstad (Florida Panthers), Taylor Chorney (Washington Capitals) and Brock Nelson (N.Y. Islanders).

Among the 35-plus NHL 'beauties' are Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild, Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets), Nick Leddy (Islanders), Anders Lee (Islanders) and Paul Martin (San Jose Sharks).

Archibald leaves in September for his third training camp with the Penguins.

"My first year was kind of getting everything under my belt, seeing how everything goes, trying to keep up with everyone," he said. "It was more of a learning year.

"Last year was a building year, building on what I learned from the year before. It's kind of a hectic time, a hectic 3-4 days of skating and testing. They're definitely big learning days, a big learning week, to see what everyone goes through and see where you fit in among everybody."

What are his chances of sticking with the big club?

"There's no definite answer yes or no for that," Archibald said. "I've got to work my (butt) off this summer so I can put myself in the best position to make the team."

 

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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