James Malm isn’t old enough to drive yet, but he has proven to be the driving force of the Valley West Hawks offence.
The 15-year-old is the youngest member of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League squad — the league is for 15 to 17-year-olds — but seems to be fitting in just nicely.
Along with Malm, the team has three other first-year players.
And not only does he lead the Hawks in scoring, but his 13 goals and 39 points have him tied atop the league, despite playing three less games than the other player.
And on Monday, he was named the player of the month for November after scoring 22 points in 10 games.
Malm downplays his success.
“My teammates are playing well around me,” he said. “I am just feeding off of them right now.”
“If we go over the course of the year, he is one of the few kids that consistently, game in and game out, performed,” said Valley West coach Jessie Leung.
“Never took a game off, never took a shift off.”
Putting up points is nothing new for the five-foot-nine, 170-pound forward, who prides himself as a smaller but offensively-skilled player.
Prior to joining the Hawks, the Langley teen played for the Burnaby Winter Club, amassing 70 goals and 144 points in 56 games in the Pacific Coast Bantam A Hockey League.
Those numbers led to him signing a Western Hockey League player agreement with the Vancouver Giants in the summer. The Giants had drafted Malm in the second round (44th overall) in the 2014 WHL bantam draft.
As a 15-year-old, he is eligible to play six games of major junior this season.
But his focus is on the Hawks.
“He came in and we didn’t know a ton about him personally,” Leung said.
“We obviously knew about his skill set, what he could do with the puck.”
“The offensive ability was always there; what was pleasantly surprising for me was the work that he did on the defensive side, back checking in the offensive zone,” he added.
“There are times he still cheats offensively — that is a big part of the game for him — but he is a lot more well rounded than I think he gets credit for.”
Despite his first-half success — the Hawks sit in fifth place in the 11-team league with 18 games to play — Malm is focused on winning and not points.
“The goal is we want to win,” he said. “I didn’t really have any personal goals going into the season.”
He did admit it was eye-opening his first few games at the major midget level.
“I remember my first shift: it was definitely a lot faster, and the players are a lot bigger,” Malm said.
“My teammates have been helping me a lot in the adjustment.”
And while Malm didn’t set specific personal goals for the season — winning the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League was all he stated — one thing circled on his wish-list has come true.
Last week, Malm was named to Team B.C.’s U16 roster for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George.
He is one of two Langley players named to the final roster along with goaltender Jordan Hollett.
“It is going to be a crazy experience,” Malm said.
He said the Canada Winter Games have been a goal for a few years now after another B.C. squad won gold at the event.
“Ever since them, I have dreamt about playing on the team, and now I am lucky enough to get a shot.”