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.