The Adirondack Thunder could not have been much more different at the beginning and the ending of Terrence Wallin’s time with the team.
Wallin joined the Thunder in early February, with the team coming off the worst loss in franchise history, an 8-0 defeat to the Elmira Jackals. Fast forward three months to May 7, however, and Wallin would play a part in the biggest goal in Adirondack Thunder hockey history. Gunnar Hughes scored the game winner in Game 5 of Round 2 of the playoffs against South Carolina, with Wallin collecting the secondary assist.
A rookie season in professional hockey always features its ups and downs. Wallin began the 2015-16 season with the Indy Fuel but was unable to make the roster out of camp, despite a solid performance in preseason play. A trip to the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL awaited him, one that no player in the ECHL ever looks forward to. Wallin, however, looked back favorably on his tenure in the SPHL, because it allowed him to gain back his confidence on the ice after he was released by the Fuel.
“My coach in Peoria, Jean-Guy Trudel, let me play in every situation which was huge for my confidence and he put me back at center, which allowed me to do some things I couldn’t do at UMass-Lowell,” Wallin said. “For me, it was to getting back to things I wasn’t doing in college and it got my head back where it needed to be.”
As the 6-0 winger played the first half of the season in the SPHL, he saw his game blossom at both ends of the ice. After a slow start to the season, with just one point in his first eight games, Wallin responded at nearly a point-per-game pace to close out his tenure in the SPHL with 22 points (12-10-22) in his final 25 games and he finished his time with Peoria at a +12 rating.
The Yardley, PA native was named the SPHL Player of the Week for the week of January 4, as he collected seven points (4-3-7) over three games.
As the calendar flipped into February, and the Thunder began to see their roster open up due to injuries and call-ups, an opportunity arose for Wallin and the UMass-Lowell graduate seized it without looking back.
“Playing in the SPHL built my confidence a lot,” Wallin said. “When Cail gave me a chance it really solidified myself after gaining all of my confidence back, it was great for me to get a chance to play in a league I know I can play in. In the SPHL, I learned what my niches are, what I can do to be a good player in this league and move on from here.”
Wallin quickly became an all-situations player for the Thunder, feeling as comfortable centering the third line as he did as a winger on the top line. At an uncertain time for Adirondack, a new addition to the roster became a player of consistency, as Wallin was part of the solution that helped to right the ship for the Thunder, stabilizing a promising season back onto playoff course.
“As a coach, a player like Terrence is a big asset,” Adirondack Thunder Head Coach Cail MacLean said. “With the fluid nature of ECHL lineups, you need players that can fill a variety of roles and that means you need players with good hockey sense. Terrence has that intelligence and he moves well on the ice. With a strong summer of training, I'm confident that he will be a valuable player for the Thunder in his second pro season.”
As we now reflect on the inaugural season of Adirondack Thunder hockey, we can envision bigger and better aspirations for a team that came up just short in 2015-16. While it’s too early to see what the Thunder roster will look like when the puck drops in October, Wallin is excited about the potential this team could show as the Thunder look to take the next step towards a Kelly Cup Championship.
As for himself, the former Riverhawk is excited to get back to Glens Falls and play hockey with the boys again.
“I’m just excited to get back on the ice and be around my teammates and coaches again,” Wallin said. “We had a great locker room last year, a lot of character guys, a lot of funny guys, we had a really good mix of teammates. I’m looking forward to getting back to see those guys again.”