Malcolm's in the Middle of Yale's Success
Senior Goaltender Leads Yale Back to Frozen Four
by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer
PITTSBURGH, Pa. Every save is important to Yale goaltender Jeff Malcolm. No matter the shooter, the angle or the score, Malcolm thinks he can stop them all. They're all the same.
He doesn't remember any singular shot. None of the 10 saves in made in the third period of a 3-2 overtime win against Minnesota in a West Regional semifinal stand out. Nor can he recall the nine saves he made in the regional final, when his team erupted for four goals against North Dakota to earn its spot in the 2013 Frozen Four.
"Every save is as important as the one before it and the one after it," Malcolm said. "I need to give my team confidence when I'm back there, so I need to save all of them to help our team succeed."
Thursday afternoon, Yale plays Massachusetts-Lowell in a national semifinal at 4:30. In that game, Malcolm will need to make a few important saves to advance to Saturday's national championship game. His teammates know he'll make them, too. They remember the big ones — even if Malcolm doesn't.
"I think you need a goalie to make two or three big saves in order to win," Yale captain Andrew Miller said. "I think that save can come at any time, and Jeff does a really good job of that. He puts us in a position to win. It gives us confidence. ... It's great to have him back there. "
Malcolm's presence carried the Bulldogs to Pittsburgh this week. It also helped them earn a spot in the NCAA tournament in the first place. Life without Malcolm hasn't been kind to Yale this season. An injury suffered on Feb. 1 against Princeton sidelined Malcolm for five games — the Bulldogs lost all of them.
Like Miller said, goalies need to make important saves to win important games. Malcolm has shown he is that goaltender in his four years. Without their experienced netminder, the Bulldogs didn't receive those saves. Not much else went well for them either.
"I don't want to say we weren't confident with them (the back-up goaltenders)," Yale defenseman Colin Dueck said. "But it was a bit of a tough stretch, and he came back. I think that did help our confidence."
Malcolm's return coincided with a return to form that helped Yale save its season. The five-game losing streak after his injury quickly transformed the Bulldogs from a certain at-large bid to a bubble team. The Bulldogs promptly went on a five-game winning streak when he returned to solidify their spot in the NCAA tournament and make a push for an ECAC championship.
"It was pretty emotional when I first got injured," Malcolm said. "Obviously, I didn't know the extent of the injury. Once we got it sorted out, it was just a process of getting back and trying to find ways to contribute to the team. It felt great to get back eventually. We turned it around, and here we are."
Since his return, Malcolm has a .926 save percentage and a 1.76 goals-against average in nine games. The lone losses the Bulldogs experienced in that stretch came in the ECAC semifinal and consolation games, costing Yale a chance at a trophy.
With Malcolm fully recovered and performing well, the Bulldogs are in position to pick-up a bigger piece of hardware in Pittsburgh this weekend. Like Miller said, Malcolm will have a big save to make at some point in Thursday's game against UMass-Lowell.
After his performance in Grand Rapids, they know it will come. Even if Malcolm doesn't think it's any different than the others.