Nottingham Panthers coach Tim Wallace revealed he’s used the last year to find a way to improve as he gets ready for the Elite Series.
His Panthers team will meet Sheffield Steelers in their opening game on Saturday for their first competitive game on the ice in just over a year.
Wallace has been pleasantly surprised by his team since they got together earlier in the week and, naturally, wants to win.
“It’s hockey and there’s a trophy on the line,” he said. “If it’s there, we’re hunting it and pressure is always part of this job. It’s what all of us are born and bred to do.
“The guys are more sharper than I expected so I want us to play fast. Some guys will have something to prove and it’s going to be fun to be part of.
The puck drops for real on the #2021EliteSeries this Saturday and you can watch every moment of all 12 of our round robin games for only £99, that's just £8.25 per game! 😻
— The Nottingham Panthers | #2021EliteSeries (@PanthersIHC) April 1, 2021
“We’ll play Sheffield on Saturday then the game on Sunday, but the first three weeks, the focus has to be on us and what we do. If we spend too much time looking at the other teams, it could blow their brains.
“The last year or so has been tough and I’ve been in Sweden, spending some time with my daughter while my partner worked so it was a good learning experience. I’m certainly not taking anything for granted again.
“I’ve been watching our games from last year to pick up on what we can improve on and I’ve had the time to watch, learn and try to get better.
“I’ve also spoken to all the coaches I’ve had and taken some information from them. It’s been a fresher to be able to do that and I’m good to go for this competition.”
Of course, the backdrop and build-up to the Elite Series is much different to watch anyone has ever faced in the Elite League through the years.
Picking players in a draft created a lot of excitement and drama, while the players taking part are undergoing constant testing and dealing with the safety protocols at the Motorpoint Arena.
Wallace has enjoyed the experience so far and admits to feeling very reassured about the health and safety aspect.
“Putting the team together was a lot of fun, but the draft was something I’d never been part of,” he added.
“To figure out what we need, having backup plans, making the trade to get Bownsy in then putting the roster together in turbo mode, Gui Doucet and I worked really well together and we’ve got a good team.
“Everything’s going to be well organised and it has been so far. The safety protocols have given such reassurance in having this going on.
“First thing in the morning, you fill out a form on the app then you get your temperature checked followed by a test so it shows they’ve made sure they’ve done everything to keep us safe.”