Malloy To Represent Australia At IIHF Tourney

Malloy To Represent Australia At IIHF Tourney

05 Apr 2015 | By Gerry Cantlon

For Rob (Bert) Malloy he is adding another chapter to his hockey odyssey.

Photo: Mark Bradford

Prior to his 5th season in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) with a brand new team the Cheshire native will be able to play for the Australian National Team for the first time when they compete in the round robin IIHF Group A Division II tournament from April 13-19 in Reykjavik, Iceland. The other national teams will be from Belarus, Spain, Romania, Serbia and host Iceland.

"Obviously it's an honor to represent a country, something I never would have imagined ten years ago. It has been a goal since I started playing down here. 

I have played tournaments in Australia and Canada, but never anything on an IIHF level," commented Malloy in an extensive e-mail interview.

Malloy had gained resident status and was on the list for Australian citizenship, but it looked he might miss this international round in dealing with Australian government system in gaining citizenship status.

"I was eligible back in November. I had to take a test, then there is a waiting list before I could attend my citizenship ceremony. I had my paperwork expedited due to my circumstance and officially became a citizen in February. I am able to hold dual citizenship. Hopefully, if my son decides to play hockey later on I can use contacts in both hemispheres for his benefit."

That is one of the newest additions to his life besides citizenship is the birth of his son Mason born just over a year ago.

The Australian team has made some serious strides between the development of a national program and the rise and quality of AIHL play will make it a strong entry at this level of IIHF play.

"We are taking an offensive focus. In years past, we have been outshot most games. I play an offensive game as a defenseman, so I hope to put a few points on the board. There are a couple guys with dual citizenship, but the team is mostly Australian." 

Prior to getting to Iceland they will be adding a few more stamps to his passport leaving for Finland for two weeks to train and adjust to the time change and climate change they will experience going from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern hemisphere.

"We have a few games before we start. It is difficult to train as a team before we leave because guys in some cases are all over the world. The week before the tournament we have training camp in Finland.

It helps us to get acclimated to time and climate. The boys had their training camp in Melbourne last year and were forced to literally to get off the plane and get on the ice for their first game. It will also provide the opportunity to play a few exhibition games before the tourney starts."

The team will two games in Finland at Vierumski where the Finnish National team trains an hour and half inland from the Gulf of Finland and one game in Iceland.

"The first two games of the tournament should be a pretty good indication as to how we will finish. We start against Spain, who was promoted from the pool below, then Romania who was relegated from the pool above." 

Malloy hopes he might get a chance to meet up with another Cheshire native Matt Generous playing in the Finnish Elite League with HIFK Helsinki.

One thing Malloy will have in Iceland is a rooting section as his family will be flying over to enjoy watching him play internationally for the first time for the Mighty Roos as the Australian team is known by.

"Roo is just an abbreviation of kangaroo. All national teams down here have a name for themselves. For example, the soccer team are the Socceroos." 

Malloy who normally returns to Cheshire to visit family and friends before the start of the six month weekend only AIHL regular season.

This is a once in lifetime opportunity.

"Yeah, it was a tough decision, but my parents understand. I'm fulfilling a dream and they understand I won't be able to play hockey forever. Now is the time to tick things off my bucket list. The toughest part is going to be being away from my wife and son for the duration of the trip. Fortunately, I'll meet up with them in Bali (for a quick vacation) on the way home (before the AIHL season starts).

It's a short flight to Iceland, so I have a bunch of family coming. It's actually easier for them to fly to Iceland than fly to Australia, especially for my grandmother."

In Iceland, he might also have his parents bring some of the finest New England winter gear, as he will be coming from the beaches of New South Wales which he enjoys greatly to a region that will be considerably more nippy in the North Atlantic region where surfing a personal passion of his is not that big !

"I imagine it's going to be pretty cold, I'll certaintly dress accordingly. The flip-flops and shorts will stay at home ! "

His former junior coach with the Hartford Junior Wolf Pack Bob Crawford the GM of the team now, is very happy his former player is succeeding so well in spreading the gospel of hockey.

"It's not a surprise to me he has a quality family and he always represented a team well, he was our captain. He gave up football at Cheshire High at the height of the program's success. He got a lot of grief for it, but he was committed to the sport."

Crawford will have two graduates to be proud of as Melbourne native Todd Graham who played two years here with the Junior Wolf Pack will be joining Malloy in representing the Aussies.

It's a great primer for Malloy as he begins the ALIH regular season after the tournament with a totally new team in the Newcastle North Stars which is closer to his home and he will have his coach from last season Andrew Petrie guiding the North Stars team.

"It's nice to have a fresh start and a new beginning. Our team should be really strong with a lot of depth. We signed two imports that had been drafted into the NHL (Luke Moffat & Geordie Wudrick) which will definitely help. The guys have been real welcoming and receptive, I can't wait to get started." 

Leaving the Sydney Ice Dogs after four years, the last two as its captain and winning one AIHL Goodall Cup was both tough and easy for Malloy.

"Newcastle is closer halfway between here and Sydney and easier to get to the rink from where we live not as much traffic as in Sydney.

It always made sense to go to Newcastle, but we had a great group of guys on our team in Sydney. It's not easy to leave my family on the weekends, I'll do whatever I can to make it easier and spend more time at home."

The feeling is the AIHL is becoming an even stronger league.

"The league is growing exponentially. The social media outlets has created awareness that ice hockey exists in Australia. The level of imports continues to better every year and the level of Aussie players are impressive as well. The level of hockey is better than most people would imagine."

Australia was in the news recently because of a terrible terrorist incident back in December. Has it made you think twice about your trip to Iceland ?

"I work just outside Sydney. I had many people touching base to make sure I was OK and not involved. It was quite a scare, but it's one of those things that brings a country together. There is always a scare of terrorism I guess anywhere in the world, I think it just made Australians more aware that it can actually happen on our soil."

Cheshire's loss will be Australia's gain in climbing the international hockey ladder.

The other IIHF divisions will be in action as well Division III Group B will be held in Cape Town, South Africa and Division II will be in Izmir, Turkey.

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