Know Your Bobcat – Nick Wallace
Throughout the months of August and September, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features rookie Bobcat defenseman Nick Wallace.
Name: Nick Wallace
Hometown: Burbank, CA
Weight: 178 lbs.
2012-13 Team: California Titans 18U
2012-13 Stats: 22 GP, 2 G, 15 A, 17 PTS, 18 PIM
Favorite Movie: The Dark Knight
Favorite NHL Player: Erik Karlsson
Highlight of 2012-13: “Battling our way to the State Championship game in California was a great memory; we came up short and it was a tough loss to take but looking back it was a great run we made to get there.”
When first-year players report to the Bismarck Bobcats’ training camp, most find it very difficult to adjust to the opening four days, a dry land training regimen known affectionately as “Hell Week.”
Most, but not all, as rookie blueliner Nick Wallace proved: the former California Titan thrived, turning in top-end results in almost every single event of the week.
“Nick came in and impressed everyone with how in-shape he was and how prepared he was for Hell Week,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “You can tell a lot about a guy’s commitment level to the program by how he prepares his conditioning between main camp and training camp.”
Despite making it look easy, Wallace conceded that his first taste of being a Bobcat was something of a struggle.
“It’s probably the hardest week of workouts I’ve ever been through. I work out six times a week but I don’t think there’s really any way to really mentally prepare for something so difficult, so I just did my best to work through all the different challenges the coaches presented.”
Bobcats director of fitness Mike Salwei, the architect of Hell Week and the team’s season-long training regimen, has evolved the training camp program into a competition where each player’s performance is given a weighted score for how they finish in each event with a ceremonial championship awarded to the highest point total.
“Competing against not only the other rookies but veterans who have been through it at least once helped strengthen my mindset and gave me that push to give my best in every event,” analyzed Wallace.
“It also made the whole week a great workout.”
Wallace would finish in second place overall with 323 points from 11 events over the course of the four days.
The only Bobcat the rookie couldn’t best in Hell Week was the man who also took the 2012 title: Filip Starzynski, who finished 32 points ahead of the rookie defender.
“I liked what I saw out of Wallace,” added Starzynski, a third-year veteran who was named co-captain of the 2013-14 Bobcats. “Usually you see rookies struggle through the week but Wallace jumped out and got everyone’s attention with a strong performance.”
‘D’ and Dash
As you often see with young defenders, 18-year-old blueliner Nick Wallace is a defenseman that also takes pride in his offensive contributions: running at nearly a point-per-game clip with 17 points in 22 contests in 2012-13 with the California Titans.
In fact, it was his offense that first caught the eye of the Bobcat staff.
“Nick really impressed me at the NAPHL Showcase in San Jose,” recalled Bobcats Midwest regional scout Aaron Venasky. “He was pretty much able to rush the puck up the ice at will and, at times, he was virtually undefendable.”
Wallace showed off his speed and puck-handling ability over the past weekend in the Bobcats’ two preseason games against the Minot Minotauros, but he also learned some valuable lessons about making the jump to the NAHL.
“The biggest difference I noticed was the speed,” assessed Wallace, who played in the NAPHL last season after a year in prep hockey in New England. “If you get too aggressive and make a mistake, every player at this level is fast and skilled enough to make you pay for it.
“It definitely showed me how important it’s going to be to have that defensive mindset in juniors.”
Though the Bobcats’ mindset always starts in the defensive zone, the coaches don’t want to limit offensive contributions from the blue line.
“At the end of the day, you can’t teach offensive creativity,” offered Sedevie. “Our goal with defensemen like Nick is to get them to understand their individual responsibilities, make them difficult to score on and then let them do what they do on the rush.”
It’s just another challenge that Wallace is ready for.
“The coaches have already been giving us some really valuable advice on what it takes to be a defender in this league,” revealed Wallace. “My goal is to absorb these lessons and put them into action to help achieve the big-time team goals that we have.”
As a rookie who played his 2012-13 season a mere 32 miles away from his hometown of Burbank, Calif., one might suspect that Nick Wallace is making his first foray into playing hockey away from home as a Bobcat—but Wallace is hardly a typical rookie in that regard.
In fact, he recently spent a year playing on the opposite end of the country from southern California.
“I actually played the 2011-12 season in prep school at Tilton School in New Hampshire,” explained Wallace. “To be honest, it just wasn’t for me, so I made the decision to return home last year and play close to home with the Titans.”
But after a year in greater Los Angeles, the blueliner is ready to get back out there and play in a different state.
“Even though it didn’t really work out in New Hampshire, I think I learned a lot from my experience at Tilton,” advised Wallace. “At this point, now that I’m 18, I’m a lot more ready to live in a new place and be able to focus on both playing hockey and my school work.”
He is currently enrolled as a senior at Bismarck High School.
Relocating from the most populous state in the country to the one with the third-lowest population has been culture shock for Wallace—in the best possible way.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that the people here are really nice and welcoming,” hailed Wallace, “which is a nice change. Not even to mention being in a place where everything is 15 minutes away or less without having to deal with L.A. traffic.”
An additional asset to help Wallace make the move to Bismarck/Mandan has been Bobcat teammate Brendan Harris, who played in the same organization last season as Wallace as a member of the Titans’ 16U team.
“Brendan and I were in different age groups last year but as members of the Titans we knew each other from all the different program-wide events we would have,” cited Wallace. “But now we’ve gotten pretty close over the last month here in Bismarck, attending class together and working out together at Healthways.
“Having that kind of familiarity has helped both of us fit into the team, I’d say, which lets us concentrate on improving our games and coming together with the rest of the guys to be a part of a Robertson Cup run.”
Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week we’ll also sit down with Cullen Willox, Connor Kelly, Eric Ylitalo, Tommy Malkmus, Johnny Dora and Kolton Aubol.
Know Your Bobcat – Nick Wallace