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MALONE FINDING CONSISTENCY IN AN INCONSISTENT WAY

By Suzie Cool (@SuzKewl) | Published on November 21, 2019

Consistency is a major key on the road to becoming successful. But how does an athlete obtain this success, when consistency seems to be out of their own control?

It’s time to introduce to you Sean Malone.

Originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Malone has been a mainstay on the Rochester Americans roster for the last three seasons, including the 2019-20 campaign that has really just begun. Malone is just one of 15 forwards on the Amerks current roster and has seen time on multiple lines throughout the course of the season thus far.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “What is so strange about a guy playing on multiple lines?” And the thing is, you’re not wrong. There’s nothing really out of character about a player seeing time on different lines until they find exactly where they are most compatible with their teammates. But, on top of Malone not seeing a consistent line game after game, he’s also double-shifting half of the time, making him seem as one of the most versatile and valuable players on Rochester’ roster at this moment.

“He’s been really good. I don’t like to use the term ‘utility guy’, but he’s moved up and down our lineup,” commented interim head coach Gord Dineen after the Amerks 4-3 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Nov. 13. “He started the game playing with Dalton Smith and Tyler Randell and ended up playing with Rasmus Asplund and Tage Thompson on the left side. It’s great that he’s got that versatility and that he is getting the opportunities offensively and he’s converting on those and it’s nice to see him get rewarded.”

And that’s the catch, Malone is now turning this inconsistency into consistency, a reward for not just himself but his teammates as well.

From Oct. 19 to Nov. 13, the third-year Amerk was on a career-high seven-game point streak, consisting of three goals and four assists, almost surpassing last year’s point total just 14 games into the season. On top of his personal accolades, Malone helped push his team to a 3-2-1-1 record throughout those seven games, helping them post points in seven of the nine contests where he found himself on the scoresheet.

“My practice habits have been better this year and I think it translates to the games. I’m just finding myself in the right spots and I have to give credit to our team, too. We have a lot of really good offensive players and that sometimes helps to put up numbers. I’m just happy to be producing offensively and being put in roles that I’m relied on,” said Malone when asked how he was accepting his role of versatility to start out the season.

Through his first two seasons in the Flower City, Malone appeared in 111 games with the Amerks while combining for 35 points. Prior to his first season in the red, white and blue in 2017-18, the Rochester rookie had already made his NHL debut the year before. What makes Malone’s debut so unique is that it came right after finishing up his collegiate campaign at Harvard University and the young forward had the chance to tally just one shot over 12 minutes of ice time in a 3-0 loss for the Sabres against the Florida Panthers on Apr. 8, 2017 for his hometown team.

This year, Malone has seen more time on the ice through the first month of the season than he did through the first month of last year due to missing the first 12 games because of an injury. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only time the injury bug hit Malone last year as he found himself miss 20 more games throughout the course of the campaign, on top of all three North Division Semifinal games against the Toronto Marlies during the 2019 postseason.

After appearing in only 38 games last year, Malone discussed how playing more can help build confidence and how constantly being engaged in the game helps you stay on track in order to affect the team positively.

“I think playing more helps build confidence and being constantly engaged in the game is a huge thing. With double-shifting, you’re always out there, even if you make a mistake you have a chance to quickly get back on track and affect the team positively. I think it’s been going really well so far, and I’ve been enjoying the role I’ve been put in and I hope to continue to do that.”

Now, similar to another story we’ve heard before, Malone is content with where he’s at in his professional hockey career. First of all, he gets to wake up every single day and play the game that he fell in love with at a young age. Secondly, he gets to play for his hometown affiliate with the hopes that he’ll get another opportunity to take on the NHL for a longer period of time.

So, it should come as no surprise that when asked about how to get back on the Buffalo roster, Malone was quick to focus on the situation he’s been presented with as of right now.

“Right now, I just want to focus on what I’m doing here, and I think that’s the main thing. You don’t want to be here and thinking you should be in the NHL all of the time. I think obviously there’s a reason you’re here and you want to develop yourself as best as you can and hopefully, someday, I’ll get that opportunity again and also get to stay there.”

Such a genuine and honest answer from someone who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves for the caliber of play that he’s bringing to the team as of late in a number of different roles.

Despite Malone’s seven-game point streak coming to an end on Nov. 15, he’s still a player that everyone needs to keep on their radar for the months to come.

And why may you ask? Because consistency is key and there’s nothing more consistent than a player who has a plan to show the world just how great he can be no matter what shift he’s on or situation he may find himself in.