Derek Malawsky, a complete two-way lacrosse player, was a class act in NHL-size rinks as a pro and wore the Maple Leaf internationally for Canada. But he says his fondest memories in the sport revolve around winning two Mann Cup national Senior A championships with the Victoria Shamrocks in 2003 and 2005, and winning the Western Lacrosse Association championship and going to the Mann Cup final in each of his five seasons with Victoria.
Malawsky, as comfortable on the penalty kill as he was on the power play, will be enshrined into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster with the Class of 2021 to be inducted in November.
“Four of my five seasons with the Shamrocks were played at the old Memorial Arena and that place had an aura, a smell, to it that was all its own. It’s what lacrosse used to be, and the Victoria lacrosse fans are so passionate,” said Malawsky. “That was a special Shamrocks club and special time for me.”
Malawsky had 202 goals and 381 assists for 583 points in 164 WLA games over 10 seasons, five of them in Victoria. He played 11 seasons in the pros, making it to three league finals, with 241 goals and 438 assists for 679 points in 169 games between 1998 and 2010 for the Ontario Raiders, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Knighthawks, San Jose Stealth, Arizona Sting, Calgary Roughnecks, Portland LumberJax and Colorado Mammoth.
“In the big rinks, you felt like you were in an elite sport,” Malawsky said.
“You felt like you made it to the big leagues, but not in terms of money of course, in lacrosse.”
International highlights included winning silver with Canada, following a 16-15 loss to the U.S. at the 2002 world field-lacrosse championship in Perth, Australia, and winning gold with Canada in the 2003 world box-lacrosse championship in Toronto.
“Anytime you put on the Maple Leaf is special,” said Malawsky, 47.
He played field lacrosse in the NCAA for tiny Sonoma State University, proudly noting: “We held our own against the likes of Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State.”
Malawsky, who led his hometown Coquitlam Adanacs to two Minto Cup national finals during an outstanding junior career in the early 1990s, joins brother and 2015 inductee Curt Malawsky in the players’ category of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
The first congratulatory call Derek received was from brother Curt, saying: “Welcome to the club.”
Derek Malawsky noted how unique it is to be in the hall of fame with his brother. The most famous siblings in the lacrosse hall, of course, are the legendary Victoria twins Gary and Paul Gait.
“It’s a special club and made even more special because the Gaits taught me a lot,” said Malawsky, now in sales, and who remained in Victoria to raise his family.
The most prized possessions from a career in lacrosse are his two Mann Cup rings with the Shamrocks.
“It has all come full circle and this [hall of fame] puts a bow on a career,” said Malawsky.