PENSACOLA, FLA – Defensemen have to be involved in their team’s offense, otherwise every offensive shift would be a three-on-five. Try scoring consistently with that disadvantage. So, contrary to the so-called hockey “experts,” offensive-minded defensemen are a blessing, not a curse. – Robert Wood; Bleacher Report
Look it up. How many hockey players come from Miami?
Well Malcolm Lyles is not your typical hockey player. Certainly not your typical defenseman.
When the Pensacola Ice Flyers acquired Lyles from the FHL Danville Dashers in late December, they knew they were getting a player who could defense and score. The only player on the Danville roster with a plus rating (+3), Malcolm had averaged one point per game in 16 games this season with 13 assists and 3 goals. But the Flyers probably didn’t figure on him matching those 3 goals in his first 6 outings and being named a game star on February 4 against the Louisiana Ice Gators.
Combine explosive quickness with exceptional stick handling and you have a dangerous player like Lyles, who can get from the crease back to the defensive zone ahead of the crowd. Now coming up on his 19th game the humble, softspoken blueliner already leads the Ice Flyers defense position in pucks netted (6/3) and is second in the SPHL in defenseman goals.
I wonder if he even knows that.
“I want to play to the highest level possible,” Lyles said. “Pensacola is great in every way. The beautiful beach, the fans, the wonderful booster club… I want to give my best for this team. There’s really no incentive to ever want to leave here.”
Malcolm’s inspiration to play hockey in the unlikeliest city in the USA was getting in the Florida Panthers locker room at age 6 and getting a stick from Ed Jovanovski.
“The Panthers had moved down here (to Ft. Lauderdale) and a lot of us kids were into hockey, but it died down rather quickly because there were no programs or rinks set up. I have my mom and dad to thank for helping me stick with it and being supportive,” he said.
Lyles’ siblings include three sisters and an older brother, Milton, who was a star lacrosse player for the University of North Carolina from 2008-2012.
“I’d like to coach kids,” Lyles said of his post hockey career aspirations. “Or I maybe see myself as a consultant; running my own firm. I know that sounds kind of vague.”
Well one thing is not vague; his opinion on ladies shoes. “Heels or flats?” I asked.
“Wedges,” he replied.
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