Robert Malloy has only ever known a life with ice hockey.
For every season since the age of four, US-raised Malloy has strapped on the skates and found himself on a rink.
But for the first time he can recall, now aged 33, the Newcastle Northstars captain and Australian representative has been sidelined from playing with the coronavirus crisis putting this year's national competition on hold.
"I've played consistently since I was four years old," Malloy told the Newcastle Herald.
"I've played consistently since I was four years old. This is the first time in my life I haven't had hockey."Robert Malloy
"This is the first time in my life I haven't had hockey."
Officials are expected to meet this week to discuss an abbreviated Australian Ice Hockey League campaign going ahead at some stage in 2020, however, Northstars and Newcastle Ice Skating Stadium general manager Garry Dore described the prospects as "doubtful".
Travel restrictions remain in place for South Australian and Western Australian borders while venues, including Warners Bay, are still shut across the country.
An alternate 3-on-3 style series has been thrown up for discussion as well as a tournament based on geographic locations, featuring the Northstars, Canberra Brave, Sydney Ice Dogs and last year's premiers Sydney Bears.
Regardless of any potential format, crowds would likey be limited and strict COVID-19 guidelines enforced.
Malloy "doesn't feel like he is missing out" at the moment because "no one is playing" and reckons the break has given him some unexpected time for refelction.
"It has been an opportunity to take a deep breath and push the reset button," he said.
This year's campaign, due to start on April 18, was postponed in mid-March because of the global health pandemic.
On one hand, without his normal weekly commitments for the Northstars, the father-of-two has been able to spend more time with wife Asmara and their sons Mason, 6, and Noah, 1.
Several of Malloy's teammates, including Richard Tesarik and Patrick Ward, have also welcomed new additions to the world recently.
"That's been a blessing in disguise," he said.
"For guys with young families, having the chance to help out more and be around more."
From a playing perspective, Malloy has mixed emotions about the pause in proceedings but still wants to continue his career in 2021.
"Mentally it's good to free the mind for a little while," he said.
"Physically, though, I'm not getting any younger. I know I've got to work a bit harder now to get back out there. I'm at a stage in my career where I don't want to let the game pass me by and I want to end on my terms."
Malloy, born in the Connecticut city of New Haven and now based on the Central Coast at Terrigal, landed in Australia a decade ago.
The Lebanon Valley College graduate first linked up with the Sydney Ice Dogs, featuring a title in 2013, before securing back-to-back crowns with the Northstars upon arrival in 2015 and 2016.
Newcastle hosted AIHL finals series last year for the first time since 2012.
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