Erie Otters Weekly: Malcolm Spence Quickly Gaining Confidence

Welcome back to Erie Otters Weekly. This is our weekly visit inside the Otters’ locker room keeping you up to date with all the happenings going on around the team. In case you missed our debut edition for 2022-23, you can check that out below.

Related: Erie Otters Weekly – Nolan Lalonde Earns NHL Contract

This week, Malcolm Spence joined us to talk about his early season and his upcoming matchup with his best friend Michael Misa. We’ll also look back at the games from last week and look ahead to their games against Flint and Saginaw.

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Spence Quickly Gaining Confidence

It’s no secret if you’ve watched the Otters in recent games, you know who’s been their best skater. It’s been Spence. Although he has just one goal to show for his effort so far, he’s been noticeable every time he steps on the ice. He says he continues to gain confidence with each passing game. He especially noticed it after scoring his first goal in Ottawa.

Erie Otters, Inside the Locker Room

“It was a great feeling,” Spence said of his first OHL goal. “It was a great play that came up from (Elias) Cohen and (Brett) Bressette, two guys that have been really welcoming since I came to Erie. It was special for them to get the assists on my goal. That was awesome.”

“I was just happy that I actually put it in the back of the net. I’ve been getting a lot of shots and haven’t had success and not the results I want yet. But I know it’s coming. So it was nice for that to go in. It’s definitely something you dream of as a kid scoring your first OHL goal. It was a special one in Ottawa to score in that city, it was awesome.”

He knows it’s coming. That’s great news for an Otters’ team that was able to get their first win of the season this past Saturday night. Rookies coming into the OHL usually deal with an adjustment period. It’s no different with Spence. He talked about the thing that he’s had to adjust to the most in the early going.

“In minor hockey, there were times that I think I could turn it off and on and still have success in a game. In the OHL, I notice when I’m having my most success I’m completely on the entire time,” Spence said. “It’s a faster and stronger game. There’s a lot of smarter players and a lot of great players on each team. But I think every game you get more comfortable and get more of your feet wet. There’s places where you realize you had more time than you thought you did and times where you had less time than you thought.”

Malcolm Spence, OHL, Erie Otters
Malcolm Spence is quickly adjusting to the OHL. (Photo credit: OHL)

Spence got to experience his first home game on Saturday night in front of over 5,000 fans at Erie Insurance Arena. It was against their rival London Knights. He was advised by his teammates about what this rivalry means. But in the end, it was the two points that mattered most.

“I was told there was a lot of hatred from Erie to London and London to Erie. I was just pumped up to play the London Knights,” Spence said. “They’re a historic OHL team with a lot of success with great players that have come through there. For us to get the win, and I know they haven’t done that in a few years from my knowledge, it was just nice to get the win and get those points.”

Spence then admitted it had been a long time since he got to experience a crowd like the one in Erie Saturday night.

“It’s something I haven’t experienced in a long time. I’d say the atmosphere that the fans gave is something I will never forget, my first OHL regular season game at home. It was awesome,” Spence recalled. “It was great that we gave the fans what they wanted, a good night. (There were) a couple fights, a lot of goals and a good win. I think we gave them the whole package that they wanted and got the W which is great for our group.”

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With the Otters having six of their next eight games at home, confidence is not only coming for Spence, it’s coming for the rest of his teammates as well. After an 0-2-2 start where the team couldn’t get the big goal, Spence spoke up in the locker room and reiterated along with the leadership that the team is coming.

“The coaches touched on it but I think our leadership group, the captains said it and I think we all agreed. That’s the first thing I said in the room that it was coming. The goals were going to come. The points were going to come for us,” Spence said. “We showed those Eastern teams that we weren’t going to be pushed around. We’re a team that’s going to make a statement this year. I think you can really tell that we’re really up playing these teams. Maybe we’re just not finding the back of the net. The results will come. When we shoot as many pucks, one’s bound to go in. We’re not going to change our game at all. We’re going to focus on bearing down a little bit more putting the puck in the back of the net.”

The first five games have proven to be a learning experience for Spence and the rest of the Otters. But with their first win under their belt, they’re ready to pursue their goals for the season. A date with his best friend awaits Spence on Saturday night at Erie Insurance Arena against the Saginaw Spirit.

Don’t be surprised if Spence starts piling up the goals sooner rather than later. His confidence is growing. He is proving to be one of the best skaters on the ice every night. It’s just a matter of time before the real breakout happens.

Looking Back

Before their home opener, the Otters played in Mississauga and lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Steelheads. Alessio Beglieri was the star of the night stopping 35/37 shots and then stopping both Otters’ shooters in the shootout. Liam Gilmartin scored his first goal since joining the Otters. They outshot the Steelheads 37-27 on the night.

The Steelheads made the CHL Top-10 this week so it appears as though the Otters played really well against a tough opponent. Then on Saturday, Nolan Lalonde earned his first win of the season stopping 28 Knights’ shots. Sam Alfano, Kaleb Smith and Spencer Sova all scored and helped send the Knights to an 0-3-0 start. Check out the Player of the Game Jacket the Otters will wear this season. It’s to the theme of Top Gun.

Up Next

The Otters host the two Michigan teams on Friday and Saturday night. The Flint Firebirds come to town Friday. That means having to deal with top Rangers’ prospect Brennan Othmann. He has eight points in his first four games in the new season.

Then on Saturday, the Spirit come to town led by Ducks’ prospect Pavel Mintyukov and the previously mentioned Misa, who was granted exceptional status prior to the season. Spence realizes how special this game will be for him and his best friend.

“It’s obviously going to be a special moment for both of us. We’ve been best friends for a while. I’m just excited to have a compete level with him like we had our whole life. It’s not just practice it’s for real and under the bright lights. We’re just both so competitive. We both strive to be better. He’s a phenomenal player and I think everyday he pushes me. Everything he does he’s pretty exceptional at. Me and him when we grind gears against each other it’s just nothing but good competitiveness and I’m excited to play him.”

Might we see a friendly wager between the friends for this game?

“Knowing Mike, he probably might present something. But I doubt it,” Spence said. “Both of us are just trying to get the win. That’s what I know from our end that we’re trying to do.”

With both Spence and Misa eligible in 2025, the friends will become rivals for the next three seasons leading up to their NHL Draft year. Expect this game to be fun to watch from start to finish given the level of talent that will be on display.

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