Ayrshire ice hockey teen set for Canada dream after linking up with Ontario club

-Credit: (Image: Alan Blakeley)
-Credit: (Image: Alan Blakeley)

A budding Kilmarnock ice hockey star is set for a dream move to Canada - and is hoping it’s the next step on his way to turning pro.

Jack Malcolm, 15, currently plays for the North Ayrshire Wild but is set to spend the next year in Ontario after catching the eye of a prep team.

Malcolm, who can play both defence and forward, will move to the town of Tillsonburg, which is around 100 miles east of Toronto, where he’ll play for the SHA Sabres.

While there will be plenty of hockey - roughly 60 matches - it won’t all be fun and games as the Killie teen will be hitting the books and keeping up with his studies, too.

It’s a busy schedule but also a once-in-a-lifetime chance the hockey daft youngster, and his family, couldn’t turn down. In fact, it’s an opportunity that proud mum Lisa didn’t immediately think was even real.

Speaking to the Standard, she said: “With Jack’s age group, every time they play a game it gets reported to Elite Prospects. He made top-10 in Scotland and you can go on and see what countries are having a look at you.

“He got an email on a Friday night saying ‘Hi Jack, we’re really keen to have a discussion with you about joining our club’ and I told him it was spam and just to ignore it.

“On the Saturday, they’d emailed back asking for my details and wanting to organise a Zoom call because they really wanted to go forward with it and that’s when we all thought there actually must be something to it after all.

“The Zoom call was on the Tuesday and they explained everything and how it would all work. It’s kind of mind-blowing just how quickly it’s all changed.”

Jack will soon head out to Tillsonburg until May at which point he could potentially be drafted into the Canadian Hockey League, which is the top level of junior ice hockey in the country.

Or he can continue for another year while college is also a potential option further down the line.

Lisa added: “We’ve told him that we want him to go and not come back! But also, we want him to know that it’s OK if it doesn’t happen or he can’t settle or whatever. It’s a great opportunity but also a big change.

“It would be amazing if he could make a career in the game but he’s also young enough that he can hit the reset button.”

Jack, who first got into the sport after being taken to Glasgow Clan games with his aunt and uncle, only laced up his skates for the first time four years ago but has enjoyed a rapid rise on the rink.

He said he’s not going to put too much pressure on himself, but confessed turning pro would be the ultimate dream come true.

He commented: “I’m absolutely desperate to go. I’m more than happy to put the work in to improve my game and it will be an amazing experience to be around the hockey culture in Canada, where the game is massive.

“There’s going to be 60 games with the team and then five showcase events when I’m used to playing not even half of that across two different age groups. It will be a big step up but I can’t wait to get started.”

He added: “I’m not really going there with set goals as such. I want to see how things go and get myself settled into the team first and then I can take things from there.

“The ultimate dream would be to turn pro and play hockey as a career but that’s a long way off yet. I just want to work hard and see where it takes me. I’ve been given a great opportunity going to Canada and I want to make the most of it.”

The finances involved in the move are far from insignificant, and a Just Giving page has been set up to help with the costs while fundraising events are also taking place, including a race night being held at Chequers in Kilmarnock on July 27.

The Just Giving page can be found here.

Read next:

Don't miss the latest Ayrshire headlines – sign up to our free daily newsletter