News of Red Deer Rebels Head Coach Jesse Wallin’s becoming the next head coach of Team Canada’s U-18 IIHF hockey team has spread fast. It wasn’t something the third year coach was expecting.
“It kind of caught me off guard. It kind of came out of the blue and came about pretty quickly.”
To be sure, Wallin had to first get permission to head over to the Czech Republic on April 22nd.
“I had to make a decision and discuss it over with my wife and with Brent and had their full support.”
For the Rebels head coach it’s a consolation prize. And truly a good one. “Of course, my first priority and first wish would be to be playing in the playoffs right now, unfortunately that wasn’t the case and this is a great backup plan.”
Back in 2008, Wallin was the assistant coach of the Team Canada U18 team and he remembers it vividly.
“I look back at that team and a lot of those kids are playing on TV now. I think our top line that year was Taylor Hall, Jordon Eberle and Cody Hodgson, on the back end we had kids like Tyler Myers and Marco Scandella.
“So you get a chance to coach some pretty special players.”
Not only is Wallin going back to the tournament but he’ll have some familiar faces on the bench. “We have a real good coaching staff. Todd Gill is one of the assistant coaches, and Todd was actually my defense partner in my first NHL game so it’s funny how the world spins.”
Another familiar face accompanying Wallin will be Red Deer Rebel Matt Dumba. “I think it’s safe to say, Matty’s going to have a spot on that team. He’s an elite player, and an elite player in his age group and it’s all ’94 born players.
“We’re looking forward to having him with us.”
In 1997, Wallin won a gold at the IIHF tournament, and on April 12th he hopes to win another as head coach.