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Tommy Malkmus makes red-hot debut for Topeka after late-season switch

03/06/2014, 4:30pm EST
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

With his junior career winding down, Tommy Malkmus no longer had a place to play in his hometown. So he went with the next-best thing: A chance to return to playing for a coach he was with for the entire 2012-13 season.

The 20-year-old forward took a weekend to gather himself and pack up from his home in Bismarck, N.D., where he had been removed from the active roster of the North American Hockey League’s Bobcats. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, Malkmus joined the Topeka Capitals and began taking the North American 3 Hockey League by storm.

It was something Topeka coach Anthony Bohn has seen before.

When Malkmus was unable to make the Bobcats’ roster in training camp for the 2012-13 season, he headed off to the El Paso Rhinos of the Western States Hockey League, where Bohn was an assistant coach. Malkmus piled up 11 goals and 13 assists in the first 17 games before his scoring pace slowed, in part because of injuries.

Malkmus did even more damage in his first two weekends with the Capitals. Playing on a team that has clinched the NA3HL South Division title, Malkmus is already fifth on the Capitals in goals this season — after just six games.

Topeka acquired the rights to Malkmus when Bismarck set its roster for the upcoming NAHL Robertson Cup playoffs.

“At the deadline, they were looking to make some room for some of their younger guys,” Bohn said. “It just so happens that I had the pleasure of working with Tommy last year and, now being with Topeka, I was able to bring him in to the 3HL to do some things offensively and bring some leadership for us.”

Bohn got even more than what he expected. The Capitals (30-11-1) have won all six games with Malkmus in the lineup. Malkmus has hat tricks in half of those games, game-winning goals in half of them and multiple points in all of them. It all adds up to 13 goals and seven assists in just six games for the latest NA3HL South Division Star of the Week.

“I don’t think you expect that much production out of anybody,” Bohn said. “He’s really done some pretty amazing things. Hopefully, he can continue to do it — keep it going.”

A conversation with Bohn helped get Malkmus ready to salvage what was left of his season — and his junior career.

“It was tough,” Malkmus said. “It was the hometown team, so it was really tough to go, but I knew I had a good coach down here.

“I found out on that Thursday. Anthony gave me the weekend off to regroup and I arrived on Tuesday night. We immediately went to Sugar Land for three games on the weekend.”

And Malkmus immediately began producing for his new team. He had goals and assists in each game of the weekend, capping it with a four-goal, two-assist effort in an 11-2 rout.

“I had a little chip on my shoulder,” Malkmus said. “I wanted to prove, especially to Bismarck, that, ‘Wow, we let a good kid get away.’ ”

Malkmus had three goals and four assists while going plus-3 in 29 games in a limited role with the Bobcats. Bohn said the way Malkmus has handled this crossroads should make a good impression as he tries to land an opportunity to play college hockey next season.

“We have to credit Tommy,” Bohn said. “He handled this very professionally. A lot of guys come time with an ego of ‘I’m too good for this.’

“Luckily, Tommy and I had a relationship before being here. That helped, just with explaining what I’m expecting from him. Coming in, he didn’t miss a stride. He handled it professionally and it’s nice to see him getting the reward for it.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.

Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.

USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?

Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.

USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?

Helen Fenlon:
I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.

USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?

Helen Fenlon:
When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.

In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.

USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.

Helen Fenlon:
It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.

USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?

Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.

USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?

Helen Fenlon
: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.

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