Coach Wallace says he’s learned a lot from “crazy” season

The 2018-19 Elite League season has been one of the craziest of MKL Head Coach Tim Wallace’s career - but rewarding and fun, the American told BBC radio on Monday evening.

Tim scored the game-winning goal against five-time EIHL play off champions the Nottingham Panthers last Saturday, in a penalty shootout competition that had the near-1,900 crowd on the edge of their seats.  

With Wallace and the Panthers’ Alex Guptill the only  scorers after each team’s first five attempts, the pair stepped onto the ice again; this time the Smith Recycling-backed Lightning’s netminder Patrick Killeen almost literally living up to the hockey saying of “standing on his head” to deny the Nottingham man, whilst Wallace beat Panthers keeper Garnett to seal the home win.

“I heard people were nervous but it was a thrilling game and a great result for the guys,” said Lightning’s leader in an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio.  “It’s great when the team celebrates with you.  It could’ve gone the other way but it’s a great feeling when you’re short benched.

“We have to make sure we do the little things: blocking shots, taking hits - all the things that hurt.  But it’s what we do to get the wins.”

After a string of defeats in the new year, fortunes have improved in recent weeks with victories against Dundee Stars, Manchester Storm and Saturday’s shootout win over Nottingham Panthers giving the team’s passionate supporters even more to cheer about.  “The crowd has been behind us from day one, no matter what the situation,” said Wallace.  “It’s rare in sport to have fans this loyal so we do our best to be an entertaining team to watch.”

Lightning’s road through the season has been undeniably bumpy but Coach Wallace remains sanguine, saying the experience has taught him a lot.  “Coaching has been frustrating but also very rewarding.  It’s fun - but a lot more fun when you can put a run of wins together!

“This has been one of the craziest seasons of my career. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot - and we’ll just focus on one day at a time.”

Listen to the full interview with Tim Wallace on BBC Three Counties Radio: click here (originally transmitted Monday 4th March, begins at 31:05)

Highlights of Lightning’s battling win against the Nottingham Panthers are online to watch now: click here

Tickets for Lightning’s next home game, against Coventry Blaze on Saturday 9th March at 7pm, are on sale by phone at 01908 540020, in person from the Planet Ice box office 7 days a week, or online at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets.

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