Forward Seamus Malone is in his second season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League. The 5-foot-9.25, 165-pound left-handed shot, who was born in Naperville, Ill., is No. 180 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. He led the team with 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) and four shorthanded goals in 55 regular season games. He also had 12 power-play points and five game-winners. Committed to the University of Wisconsin in 2015-16, Malone has offered to maintain a blog leading up to the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
It's the most exciting time of the year here in Dubuque. The 2014 Clark Cup Playoffs are underway, and we're looking to become the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back championships. We met as a team for the first time back in August before going to Russia, and since then our coaching staff has preached the goal of repeating as the Clark Cup champion. Russia was fun, the season was great, but the Clark Cup has been the goal since day one. There is such a big turnover in this USHL, so it makes it even tougher to repeat than in the NHL.
We opened the [best-of-5] quarterfinal round series last weekend against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. The series resumes Friday and Saturday in Dubuque.
We took Game 1 by a 2-1 score as our defense and goaltenders were great. We lost Game 2, 6-5. In the second game we were down 5-0 but came back to tie the game 5-5 before the eventual game-winning goal. While the result wasn't what we wanted and we can certainly improve on that performance, it was the true character of our team for coming back in that game and continuing to battle until the final horn. Being so close to Cedar Rapids, they are our rivals, so there is no love lost between the teams, but they are a great team and I am looking forward to getting out onto the ice at home this weekend in front of our great fans.
Several of our returnees that won the Clark Cup last year have stepped up this season as leaders. We've all grown since last year and have stepped into bigger roles on and off the ice. Every one of us is a key part of this playoff run. We learned to be leaders thanks to the older guys we had on the team last year. We watched guys like Mike Szmatula (Northeastern), Brandon Carlson (Alabama-Huntsville), and Shane Sooth (Northern Michigan) last year, and they helped show us the way. Those guys played with so much heart and compete, and we have tried to model ourselves after them.
Over the last few months I have been playing with Karson Kuhlman (Minnesota-Duluth) and Jacob Benson (St. Cloud State), and we are really starting to click. Karson has so much speed and is our leading goal scorer, and Benson is a smart-player, has a big body, goes to the front of the net and wins a lot of battles on the boards. We want to put pucks on net, and we can dish the puck to Karson so he can fly down the ice and give us chances.
The playoffs are a new season and fresh start. I'll never forget winning the Clark Cup last year, and we all want to experience that feeling again. Hopefully everything we have worked for this year will come together, and we can end the season on top. That's been the goal since the first day, and it's a goal that I can't wait to continue working towards achieving.
Thanks for reading!
Follow Seamus Malone on Twitter at: @seamus_malone