Malcolm In The Middle ... Of Success
Yale Senior Enjoying Breakthrough Year
by Bryan Lipiner/CHN Reporter
Every college athlete hopes for a superb senior season to close out his or her NCAA career. For some, their final season plays below their career norm. For others, it is simply average, and does not meet their expectations.
Yale goaltender Jeff Malcolm didn’t start his career with superb numbers in the crease. Through 10 games during his freshman season, Malcolm recorded a goals-against-average of 3.05 and a save percentage of just .876.
After appearing in only two games as a sophomore, the goaltender took on a full time starting role in 2011-2012, notching a goals-against-average of 2.77 and save percentage of .907.
For Malcolm, however, his senior year so far has been practically perfect. Through five games, Malcolm has made 144 saves on 151 shots, while leading the ECAC in goals-against-average and save percentage with a 1.39 and a .954, respectively.
“This past offseason I spent at home, back in Alberta, like all the previous summers working out and skating having been given our team program,” Malcolm said. “I think I’m more comfortable having gone through a lot with my classmates and teammates since coming in freshman year and that helps in my comfort level on the ice.”
Malcolm is also second in the NCAA in said categories, solely behind Carsen Chubak of Niagara.
"Jeff has worked very hard each year he has been with us to improve his overall game. This year he took it a step further and has come into school with a maturity level and a competitiveness that one hopes to see in a senior athlete,” Yale head coach Keith Allain said. “He is diligent, prepared and focused and has earned the right to expect success."
Until now, Malcolm was best known nationally for mopping up a loony 9-7 loss to Boston College in the 2010 NCAA Regional final, a game that was emblematic of Yale's goaltending struggles.
In this respect, though, Malcolm has been a lot like Ryan Rondeau, who had similar struggles for Yale — including in that Boston College NCAA game — until his senior season, two years ago, when Yale was ranked No. 1 for a time and Rondeau had his best season.
Because of changeover and the question marks in goal, no one was sure what to make of Yale coming into this year. Was their three-year NCAA run from 2009-11 just a one-time burst, or would Allain be able to come back to that again?
This year, the Bulldogs are proving they can again make noise nationally, particularly coming off Friday's 2-1 overtime win at Denver. It was perhaps Malcolm’s best game of the young season, coming against the No. 2 Pioneers. After holding Denver to a single goal through the first 60 minutes, the senior kept his composure during the remaining 56 seconds of a Pioneers power play in overtime. Yale later drew a call at 2:42 in the stanza, and hit the twine just 46 seconds later to give the Bulldogs the win.
He stopped 32-of-33 shots.
It left Denver coach George Gwozdecky impressed.
“I was very impressed with Yale," he said. "They came in and pushed the pace. They have a terrific team and a great goaltender.”
Meanwhile, Malcolm is just trying to stay focused.
“For me I’ve tried to just concentrate on the next shot,” Malcolm said. “Numbers and things like that don’t really matter at that point. The only thing that does is that next save, making sure my team will have the best chance to win each night. Each day our coaching staff stresses getting better and keeping our focus on that specific day.”
In crediting his hot start, Malcolm believes new assistant coach and former collegiate goaltender Josh Siembida has been a key to his success, also helping backups Nick Maricic and Connor Wilson. Despite Allain being a former Yale goaltender himself, a head coach has many other duties.
“The addition of Josh, a goalie specific guy, has really help the three of us this year,” Malcolm said. “He’s been able to get to know us individually and has really directed our focus in practices and in games thus far.”
After defeating Denver Friday evening, Yale will play at No. 14 Colorado College tonight, before returning to ECAC play against Brown in early December.