Friday, October 23, 2009

Malysa putting in work for Whalers

By Bob Miller
Special for

Nick Malysa is a guy who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.

The Bridgewater, N.J., native had friends who had advanced their hockey careers by playing in the OHL. When he heard about the Plymouth Whalers’ interest, Malysa didn’t sit idly by and wait to be sold on playing in Plymouth. He took proactive steps to find all he could about the franchise.

“Once a team contacted me or my agent, I would go on their website and look at the team and I’d look at the community to see how it is,” said Malysa of the process he used of garnering information about his potential new home.

“I also talked to two guys from my area who were in the OHL,” continued Malysa. “I talked to them about how they liked it. My choice to come to Plymouth was an easy one. I came to the town for a Friendship Tournament Weekend and got to see the place. It’s a great town and it’s in the US, so that helps with the schooling.”

When they drafted the 6-foot, 193-pound defenseman in the fifth round of last spring’s OHL draft, the Whalers provided Malysa the opportunity to make the jump from the North Jersey Avalanche of the MJHL all the way to playing as a 16-year-old in the OHL.

Known as an all-round style of blueliner, Malysa combines great skating ability with good puck movement skills and a keen sense of composure.

Modestly, Malysa says he’s “a stay at home d-man, not flashy, just doing what I have to do to get the job done.”

As a young player, moving so far away from home requires a big transition both on the ice and off the ice.

Purely as a hockey player, Malysa immediately noticed the difference in the level of play.

“The first month was kind of hard to adjust to,” he observed. “The game is faster than I was used to and the other players are so much bigger and stronger. The practices are a lot more fast-paced and there’s a lot of competition.”

Malysa has held his own in the early going of his initial OHL season, though, as he adapts to OHL play with a little help from his friends.

“The biggest difference would have to be the speed of the game,” cited Malysa comparing the OHL to his previous time in the MJHL. “The vet who has helped me the most is Leo Jenner. He has been giving me tips on how to be a better player and has taught me a lot.”

Malysa has also adapted to the change in pace from New Jersey to suburban Detroit.

“Off the ice, it took a little to get used to the rural town because I’m from more of a city,” said Malysa. "Not knowing a lot of the team and not knowing anybody was hard.”

Concentrating on constantly improving to make his stay in Plymouth a long and successful one, Malysa is currently “working on my skating, my speed and also my passing.”

If the time and effort he put into learning about the OHL and the Whalers is any indication of the work he will do, Malysa will put in the time and ask the right questions to improve his game and contribute to the team.

Photo by Walt Dmoch

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