HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech hockey coaching staff feels confident it can teach its incoming recruits how to defend properly and how to fit in offensively in the Huskies' system, but what it can't teach is natural scoring ability.
Which is why Tech's 2012-13 class is loaded with forwards who all have the knack for putting the puck in the net.
Alex Petan and Jujhar Khaira stand out after finishing in the top 10 in the British Columbia Hockey League in total points last year, but Malcolm Gould was not far behind in 16th place. Measuring only in goals, he was eighth in the league playing for the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Michigan Tech freshman forward Malcolm Gould cuts hard with the puck during a preseason hockey practice earlier this fall at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. He, Alex Petan and Jujhar Khaira all finished in the top 20 in scoring in the British Columbia Hockey League last year. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
"(Gould) is a great addition, and we picked him up later during the second signing period," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "He had a good year his first year in the BC junior league, but the second year he really exploded."
Gould scored 14 goals and tallied 17 assists in 57 games for the Quesnel Millionaires in 2010-11, but a year later after the team moved to Chilliwack, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward put up 36 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.
"It's kind of weird when a team gets sold, you don't really know what to expect but we had an awesome year with a great group of guys and kind of really turned it around and proved a lot of people wrong," Gould said. "On my own I had a good year. I had great linemates, which made it a lot easier and it was a lot of fun."
For having such a successful season, Gould latched on late to Tech during the recruiting process. Tech assistant coach Bill Muckalt, who played in the BCHL and hails from Surrey, B.C., primarily recruited the North Vancouver native, and Gould was the last of the top 11 BCHL scorers to sign to a team.
"It was pretty late notice. It was after game three in the first round of the playoffs I found out. Obviously I talked to my family and it was a family decision, but we didn't want to pass up a great opportunity," Gould said. "A day or two after, I called and said this is where I want to be. They were happy and I was happy."
Because he signed so late, on March 21, he never made a campus visit, but he heard enough about the school from a couple other familiar names, Petan and Khaira.
"They had nothing but good things to say about it, so it didn't really bother me that I couldn't come," said Gould, who now shares a dorm room with fellow Canadian freshmen Petan, Khaira and goaltender Jamie Phillips. "I don't have a problem with snow, so I think I'll be fine."
Even after three years outside the classroom, Gould, a business major, feels he's adjusting fine to school off the ice, and to the higher level of hockey on it.
"It's lot higher intensity and they're older, stronger guys and you have to do everything a little quicker and faster, but I feel like it's been good so far," said Gould, who has played wing and found his comfort in the offensive zone almost from the day he started playing hockey as a 5-year-old.
Like any kid growing up, he dabbled in other sports, but he's been all about hockey from the beginning, and when the ice is gone in the winter, Gould has excelled in roller hockey.
He actually made Team Canada to play in the InLine Hockey World Championship in Germany this June, but instead, he took the SAT to solidify coming to Tech. He and Tech both figure anyways that he'll have plenty of time to play hockey after his time in Houghton.
"He really mentioned the chance to come in and play for a program on the upswing with a coaching staff that's all come from winning programs and has a proven track record of placing guys in the next level. He has aspirations to play at that level," Pearson said.
"He's very good offensively, creative, he has a good knack around the net with the puck, soft hands. He has good offensive creativity that'll help us score goals," he added. "We can teach them to play defense, but we can't teach the offensive instincts."