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Date Published: November 1, 2009



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Malcolm Bilton is precisely the reason that hockey scouts, similar to those in many other sports, essentially pay very little attention to young athletes until they reach 13 or 14 years of age. A grade eight student at Northeastern Public School last spring, Bilton has always been reasonably athletic, dating back to his start in both hockey and soccer around the age of four. 

The youngest of two children in the family, Malcolm was also, more often than not, undersized relative to his peer group, presenting some challenges as he worked his way into the competitive sport scene. “With all sports, I needed some training – even with hockey, at first, you don’t know what you’re doing. But I’ve picked up all sports pretty fast”, he explains. 

One year of lacrosse participation was met with the frustration that sometimes comes with battling older and bigger opponents. Then came a six inch growth spurt in the matter of a year or two, and suddenly Bilton was on the map. 

“I grew a lot from start of Minor Peewee to end of Major Peewee, but I also grew a lot as a hockey player”, concedes the smooth skating forward who currently sits second in league scoring within the Northern Ontario “AAA” Bantam Hockey loop. “I started hitting more once I grew – that was my chance to shine – once I hit them, they were scared to take the puck away.” 

For those who have seen him play, that comment understates the combination of skill and physical element that Bilton possesses, one which undoubtedly will attract some attention when he enters his OHL draft year next fall. 

But for this soft-spoken teen, the benefits of the increased height were evident everywhere. Bilton excellent at Northeastern in both basketball and track & field, at one point presenting a serious challenge to the all-time Rainbow Board high jump record of 1.72 metres. 

As he begins his high-school career at Lockerby Composite, Bilton understands that the demand to focus on excellence may well limit his athletic involvement. “At high-school, I’ll continue with hockey and track & field…maybe basketball, but my parents aren’t very tall”, he laughs. 

The lifelong Sudbury native is unsure whether a second growth spurt is imminent, or whether he may have to deal with the reality of topping out in the 5’9” to 5’10” range. Either way, he’s not without role models. “Some players are shifty enough, like Martin St Louis - if you push yourself hard enough, you can still rise above it (the height disadvantage).” 

And a competitive streak is not lacking in the least within the very focused young man. Asked about his favourite sports memory from his time at Northeastern, his face lights up. “Our school hockey team – we were playing Lively and they were supposed to beat us. I scored five goals and we won 6-2.” Yes, overcoming challenges is right up his alley as Malcolm Bilton looks to see just how far his athleticism will take him.

 

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