Nottingham Panthers go into the new season with a new Head Coach behind their bench for the second year in a row. This time however in Tim Wallace, they have someone that knows the Elite League already both as a player and coach. We caught up with him to see how things are going ahead of the team’s pre-season debut this weekend.
“I was going into a typical summer, you have your agent working for you and wait to see what comes,” began Wallace, reflecting on the back-end of last season. “The opportunity from Nottingham came in, and it took me a day or so to realise what an opportunity it was. Now I’m really excited to get things rolling, we’ve had a great few days already on the ice and are getting close to exhibition games to get us prepared for when it counts.”
Wallace was hired by another new Panthers’ appointment in Director of Hockey Gui Doucet, and the pair have been working together all summer on the new roster. “Since I got the job we talk every day for at least an hour. We have the same mindset on what we need, and it’s been a busy, busy summer,” he explained. “Now it’s been nice to see the guys here, and it’s getting close to the time where they need to show what they can do. But so far, so good.”
While coaching in Milton Keynes, Wallace’s team had a reputation for battling until the very end. What can Panthers fans expect from his team in Nottingham? “We have a plan – we want to be hard to play against, and I think we’re a fast team. From the players that were available, we got what we wanted – from the goalie out we have a really good defensive core, and our forwards are deep. I think we’ll know a month or so in what our identity is and adjust our systems around that, but what I’m looking for is that we’re difficult to beat and fast-skating.”
How has this preseason been different to the last? “At the start of last season our coach wasn’t there, so that’s a big difference this time!” said Wallace. “Nottingham is such a well-run organisation, it’s an unbelievable arena to play in, great fan support and so far everything has gone really smoothly. Last night we had our season ticket holders coming in to watch a training session, and now tomorrow we’ll see how the team lines up against one of the top sides in our league. We’re glad to get this test, so we can hit the ground running.”
Expectations are also different in Nottingham, something that the new Head Coach is only too well aware of. “Our goal is to win all trophies in front of us, there are no excuses or reasons why we shouldn’t. But now we have to produce on the ice, making sure every player is on the same page. We need to win games as that’s what we’re here to do. We want to be entertaining and make it fun to come to our games, but ultimately my job is to win games,” explained the 35-year-old, who will also guide his team into European competition as well. “The Continental Cup is one of our goals, for sure. It’s a huge opportunity for us, and I think with our league being very underrated it’s a good chance to show that we are a very good European league and win the trophy.”