Notre Dame hockey senior Dylan Malmquist likely was unfazed late last month when sub-zero temperatures shut down the University and much of the Midwest.
After all, the California-born but Minnesota-bred forward credits the pond hockey culture of his hometown Edina with igniting his love for hockey.
Needless to say, the countless hours spent out on the ice in frigid Minnesota winters inured Malmquist to the temperatures the polar vortex recently brought to South Bend — but they also prepared him for a future collegiate hockey career that has led to the receipt of the alternate captain’s patch as a senior in 2018-19.
“My dad played college hockey and was really into it. He got us our first pair of skates, my brothers and I,” Malmquist said. “He took us out to the pond and, obviously, the first couple of times we couldn’t really do anything. But we kept improving, going out and meeting up with a bunch of buddies and hopping into scrimmages, up to the point we started getting better and started really enjoying it. Anytime you go to a pond in Minnesota, there is going to be a bunch of people there. So you always get into a scrimmage with a lot of good players and it is all really fun. It becomes second nature; after school you grab the skates and go out to the pond and get into a pickup game.”
The unstructured format with freedom to make creative plays and skate with friends was crucial to his development as a hockey player. Malmquist recalls skating on the snowless and glassy Lake Minnetonka as his greatest pond hockey memory.
“You could just skate forever, there was no rink. Just getting the puck and doing whatever you wanted with it, it was an unbelievable experience.”
Though he spends most of his ice time these days indoors at Compton Family Ice Arena, the mooth stickhandling and powerful shot that Malmquist cultivated out on the pond are still clearly visible and have been crucial to the success of the Fighting Irish in his four years.
Last season, Malmquist scored the game-winning goal against Providence in the NCAA Bridgeport Regional Final to send the Irish to the Frozen Four. Malmquist says “scoring that game-winning goal was probably the biggest goal I have scored in my entire life. I just remember there were less than 30 seconds left, (then-sophomore forward) Cal Burke was carrying it up the wing. (When we got into the zone) I just broke to the net and he found me and I just tried to do something with it and got lucky and it went in.”
“It is hard to describe, but I think it just meant to our team that we can conquer anyone and beat anyone and play until the final buzzer. A lot of people may give up with 30 seconds left, but that was just the culture of our team. We weren’t giving up until that last buzzer rang.”
Malmquist’s ability to make plays count when they are really needed will be crucial to the success of the Irish as the postseason approaches. He currently sits second on the team with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists), and his presence has especially been felt when the team has needed it most. Notre Dame missed three of its biggest playmakers for a two-week stretch in January when Cal Burke (four games; appendectomy; Jan. 18-26) and Cam Morrison (five games; upper body; Jan. 12-26) sat with illness or injury, while Joe Wegwerth’s season ended with a knee injury in November. During that time, Malmquist totaled six points (two goals and four assists) as the Irish went 2-1-2 and picked up 10 points in the Big Ten standings.
Malmquist’s leadership and experience is crucial in setting the tone and example for the rest of the team. He is eager to live up to the legacy left by previous alternate captains at Notre Dame. “Being named alternate captain is an honor. Looking back, seeing all the captains in the past and just being able to put my name in the same category of some of them is really special.”
The senior’s calm, no-nonsense approach to the pregame routine serves as an example of how to perform well under immense expectations of success. Once he tapes his stick, he’ll have a cup of coffee and chat with his teammates before warming up. Nothing out of the ordinary; no strange personal rituals.
His “lets-just-get-out-there-and-play-hockey” attitude has kept him and the rest of the team grounded. Malmquist believes the bonds of the team are very strong. “Everyone on our team, we feel like brothers. I think that’s really helped contribute to our success in the last couple years.”
Unlike the majority of college hockey players Malmquist came to play at Notre Dame without playing junior hockey. “Coming straight from high school, it was a big jump. I was lucky enough to have Steven Fogarty — who’s another player from Edina — as my captain to really help walk me through and get situated with the speed of the game and everything that comes along with it.” Malmquist can draw upon his experience with transitioning to the speed and level of college hockey to help the next generation of Notre Dame players.
As Malmquist gears up for the remainder of the season, he has also been enjoying his final semester. His favorite on campus spot?
The lake, of course.