James Irvine “Shorty” Malacko passed away in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada on Christmas Day at the age of 86.
A defenceman, Malacko earned his nickname honestly as he was small in stature but light on his skates and big in heart and competitive spirit. He started playing with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs in 1950, a season that culminated with the team representing Canada at the 1951 World Championship in Paris.
Canada was dominant that year, winning all six of its game and outscoring its opponents by a 62-6 margin to win gold.
Malacko stayed in Europe after the win, playing with the Harringay Racers in England and moving to Germany a year later to help that nation with its Olympic program for the 1952 Games in Oslo.
A year later, Malacko returned to Canada, married, and settled in Nelson. By day he was employed by the City of Nelson, and by night he played senior hockey for 12 years with the Nelson Maple Leafs, including 1964-65 when the team made it to the Allan Cup finals before losing to the Sherbrooke Beavers.
After retiring as a player, he was general manager and coach for the team and still later he was very influential in minor hockey in Nelson.