Coach Kyle Wallack (West Hartford, CT) stops by this week to answer a few questions with Nutmeg Hockey. Wallack was recently named as Head Coach/General Manager of the Indianapolis Ice of the United States Hockey League (USHL), a top junior ice hockey league in the US.
For the past five seasons, Coach Wallack served on Keith Allain’s staff at Yale University. Prior to that he had stops at the Quinnipiac, Holy Cross and UCONN men’s hockey programs.
As a player, Wallack won a Division 2 Connecticut boy’s high school hockey state championship at Hall High School (1993) before continuing his playing career at Springfield College.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: To date, you’ve coached primarily in the US college ranks. What made you decide to make the jump to the USHL?
COACH WALLACK: The USHL is the premier Junior hockey league in North America. To work and help develop some of the top talent in North America was very intriguing and exciting.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: The USHL had a solid showing at the 2011 NHL Draft with a total of 25 players drafted. Do you think that this is a sign that the USHL is emerging as not only a proving ground for top college talent, but for pro prospects, as well?
COACH WALLACK: The USHL year in, year out produces NCAA and NHL talent. With the rise of talent in the United States I think the potential for more NHL players out of the USHL will definitely increase. The NHL scouts understand the commitment these players have by coming to the USHL and I feel it only helps their stock.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: The Ice had a solid season in 2010-2011, finishing third in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with a 37-19-4 record. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
COACH WALLACK: The Ice has had consistently winning seasons over the past five years. We hope to build on the past success and compete to be one of our conferences top teams.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What have your initial impressions of the hockey community in Indianapolis been so far?
COACH WALLACK: Everyone in the Indianapolis Hockey community has been very friendly and outgoing so far. They are very good hockey people and very welcoming. I am excited to spend more time in the city.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: On the subject of players, will Branford, CT native Adam Erne be returning to Indiana in 2011-2012? After being selected 22nd overall by the Halifax Mooseheads in the 2011 QMJHL Draft, there is some talk that he may make the move to Major Junior next season.
COACH WALLACK: Adam is a very talented young man. He has some options as every talented athlete does. Our hope is that Adam chooses to come back and play for us.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What hockey player (professional or college) did you look up to, growing up in West Hartford, CT?
COACH WALLACK: Growing up being from Hartford I was a huge Hartford Whalers fan. Guys like Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis we always fun to watch. I lived in Buffalo for a few years and Lindy Ruff (now their head coach) was always great to me and my family. I used to wear his jersey as a kid.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: Being a former goaltender, do you think your experiences as a player have given you a different perspective on coaching than others in your position?
COACH WALLACK: I think you learn from every experience you deal with. You can always get better as a coach and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great ones. The goaltending aspect is always huge. My goal as a young coach was to not be pigeon holed as just a goalie guy. I tried to use my experiences and learned about the entire game as I see it and from others.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: You’ve worked with a lot of great coaches in your time behind the bench. Is there one individual who has had the biggest influence on your coaching career to date and why?
COACH WALLACK: I have worked with some outstanding coaches. Gary Dineen made a huge impact on me as a person. From being a young player at his hockey school to being a young coach with his junior team. I was always learning from him. From every phone conversation to every practice. He was a great mentor. He understood that there is more to it than just a stick and a puck. He developed people not just players.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What advice do you have for young hockey players coming up that want to take their game to the next level?
COACH WALLACK: Be patient. Some kids develop at a younger age while others are late bloomers. There is no need to rush. Enjoy the everyday process as those are the memories you will cherish.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
COACH WALLACK: I think every year your goals change. 10 years ago there was no way I could predict where I would be today. I’ve been fortunate to have some great hockey experiences while working with great people. Hopefully I’ll still be a part of this great game coaching.
Thanks, Coach. Best of luck to you next year.
|THE WALLACK FILE|
1997-1998 University of Delaware
1998-1999 Nichols College
1999-2002 Quinnipiac University
2002-2004 University of Connecticut
2004-2006 Holy Cross
2006-2011 Yale University