didn’t take the traditional path to the NHL, but instead settled for one that is more reminiscent of his style of play on the ice. Undrafted after two seasons with the USNTDP Under-18 Team, Wallace began a four-year career at the University of Notre Dame, where he set a school record by playing in 153 games for the Fighting Irish.
Wallace’s standout career at Notre Dame culminated in the spring of 2006, and served as his springboard into professional hockey. After attending an open Pittsburgh Penguins’ tryout camp, Wallace was signed to his first professional contract and split his first season with the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, and its AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In his second professional season in 2007-08, Wallace stuck with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a full-time basis, serving as a regular on a team which advanced all the way to the Calder Cup Finals.
Although Wallace eventually earned his way into 17 NHL games with the Penguins, his tenure in Pittsburgh’s organization was mostly spent in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played in a combined 268 regular-season and playoff games with the baby Pens through the end of last season, before getting cut loose by Pittsburgh and signing on with the New York Islanders.
After starting the 2011-12 season with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Wallace was given his first extended stint in the NHL. He played in 31 games for New York through the middle of February, but still was in search of his first NHL goal.
Having recognized what the Anchorage, Alaska native was capable of, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman jumped at the chance to bring Wallace aboard when the Islanders put him on waivers last month.
Receiving expanded ice time with the Lightning, it took Wallace just three games with Tampa Bay to secure his first NHL goal, notching what he hopes to be the first of many on Mar. 3 at Carolina against proven net minder Cam Ward.
“It was a huge relief more than anything,” Wallace said. “It was definitely a lot of fun.”
Wallace credited teammate Ryan Shannon
with getting the play started, after he jarred the puck loose along the boards and set up Wallace with a prime scoring opportunity.
“He was battling to get the puck and he did a good job,” Wallace added of Shannon’s effort. “He got me the puck, and then I think I kind of got a break, the puck took a fortunate bounce right to me, so I just skated in and I was aiming for about a foot off the ice, low blocker.”
Wallace’s goal also helped propel the Bolts to a victory, the team’s fourth straight.
So where is the special commemorative puck now?
“Well I haven’t received it yet, but I’m thinking I am going to frame it and I’ll probably send it back to my parents’ house,” Wallace said. “It’ll be a nice keepsake.”
And of course for Wallace, a fond memory as well.