Thursday, June 2, 2011

Q&A with new Ice coach

New Ice coach Kyle Wallack
On Wednesday morning, the Ice announced Kyle Wallack as their new head coach and general manager. Wallack has been an assistant and top recruiter at Yale University for the past five seasons, helping them become the nation's No. 1 team for much of the year this year in the polls.

Wallack will get his first look at the team next weekend, as the Ice will hold their tryout camp Friday-Sunday. 

I had a chance to chat with the new coach Wednesday afternoon. Here is a part of our conversation:

Tell us about the opportunity to become the Indiana Ice's head coach
It's an unbelievable opportunity. I've been around the USHL recruiting the last 10-12 years. It's a great league, a great city and a great organization.

How has your job at Yale helped prepare you for this? 
I started out more helping with recruiting. As the position has grown, we got better players, I've been coaching the special teams. The skill has really increased.

Speaking of special teams, are you excited about having the big rink in Indianapolis for your power play to operate on?
It's always a strength. You want to get kids who can skate on a big sheet. It would've been nice to have at Yale. It's something that allows you to recruit and identify players to fit a system to play on a big sheet. It gives kids who have certain skills an advantage. 

Do you have a specific coaching philosophy -- free-flowing, forechecking, defense, or do you believe in adapting it to the players you have?
I've looked at the roster and draft picks. It's a very skilled team. A lot of them I've seen on the recruiting trails. We'll adjust to what we need to do to fit the players we have.

What is the path that has taken you to this job? 
I just finished Year 15 in my coaching career. Time flies when you're enjoying what you do. I started out as an assistant coach with a junior program in New England. I went to the University of Delaware and then to Nichols and Quinnipiac, and those were great opportunities. My first Division I job was with UConn, and I was able to do my Master's degree while I was there. I spent two years at Holy Cross and now five with Yale. I've worked with some great people. Keith Allain is my boss here at Yale, Paul Pearl at Holy Cross, Bruce Marshall at UConn ...

Having been on the recruiting trail, you've seen a lot of the USHL. What are your impressions of the league coming into it? 
It's the best junior league out there. It's a grind every night. Their teams have made it a fun atmosphere and a lot of excitement. It's something I'm thrilled to be a part of. It's a league you love to recruit in, because you know you're going to have a fun atmosphere. To be behind the bench for it, it's something I'm looking forward to. 

Have you had a chance to meet with the returning players? 
I've gotten a chance to talk to three-fourths of them. There's some talent there. I'm excited to see someone like Sean Kuraly who's at the NHL combine. I spoke to him last night. He seems like a great player and a great person. We've got a lot of kids who have already committed to colleges.
How satisfying have the last few years been at Yale, to have the success you've had? 
It's been a blast. Everything's fun when you win. When I came in with Coach Allain on Day 1, everybody was telling me 'you can't do it there.' Now, we've done it. There are still more steps this program wants to go, especially getting to the NCAA championship. But it's a good spot.

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