Breclav, Czech Republic – The first team to have a pre-game skate today was Sweden and upon entering the Ice Bors Arena this morning the usual cluttered noise of a team practice was replaced by the rhythmic sound of a single shot being taken over and over. This familiar rhythmic shooting signifies one thing: a goalie and his coach.
Despite recognizing the sound, it wasn’t possible to see who was on the ice as the mix of humidity and ice created a dense fog that coated the glass. After climbing up the stands above the fogged glass appeared Swedish goalie coach Anders Palm standing in the middle above the hash marks, shooting at Isak Wallin’s hands.
“The key to success in these games, especially against teams like Canada, is rebound control.” Palm said after the skate with Wallin. “It is a lot about tracking the puck, seeing the puck well.”
Palm, who has been coaching with the Swedish National team at various levels for the past five years, continued his philosophy on puck tracking and patience by saying, “We talk a lot about patience in today’s goaltending, but ‘patience’ is a tough word. It is a big word, it includes many things and one of those things is standing on your feet more. We do simple drills like this morning where there is a shot and they decided if it’s high, they stay on their feet. If it is low, get down and get a good rebound.”
Wallin, a 1998 born goaltender and eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, is no stranger to dawning the Tre Kronor jersey. He has been a part of the U16 and U17 national teams and after the skate said, “It was great. Great feeling in the body and in my head.”
Filip Gustavsson, also elgibile for the 2016 NHL Draft, played the night before in a close 4-3 win over Switzerland; so he had the morning off. Palm offered his report on Gustavsson, “Filip has some calmness in his game. He is a big guy of course, he can use his size. But at the same time he is willing to develop his hands and an athletic type of game. He has a structured game of course, he is good at it, but I think one of the biggest keys for him is he is willing to develop his athleticism.”
Wallin, listed at 179 cm (5’10”), doesn’t have the size of Gustavsson, but he has quickness and athleticism. Something he concurred when asked what his strengths were, “I think I am pretty fast, great with my glove.”
“(Wallin) has the athleticism. He is an aggressive goalie as he is a little bit smaller and has to be. This takes him coming out a little bit more in his positions to get the save selections to work.” Palm added. And when asked what Wallin needs to focus improving on, “Where to have his hands at certain angles and how to use different saves in different positions.”
This upcoming season, Wallin will be back with MODO splitting time with their J18 and J20 team.
“Practice hard, hopefully get a lot of games. Play well, and as much time at J20 level.” Wallin added when asked about his upcoming season and what he will be looking forward too.
The Swedes play against Canada tonight, but Wallin has another match circled on his calendar; tomorrow versus Czech Republic. At the U17 5 Nations tournament in Russia this past February, Wallin and his Swedish club lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Czech Republic.
And if Wallin doesn’t get his named called to start tonight, he will be ready.
“I do the same warm up as if I am in the goal. Stay mentally focused so I am ready to jump in at any time.”