Ian Wallgren’s Connecticut Oilers coach said that the Swedish defenseman did not look out of place going up against NCAA Division 3 UMass-Boston on Oct. 21.
By Joshua Boyd
Wallgren, named to an EHL All-Star team that took on the Beacons in an exhibition game, didn’t feel out of place, either. He believes that the NCAA is the logical destination for his game.
“It was a fun experience and good for exposure. The level of the skill and speed was higher, but I have no problem playing with these guys,” said Wallgren, a ’98 from Stockholm. “The college players are a lot bigger and stronger than me, so that’s obviously something I’m trying to improve upon.”
For Lindén, there was never a question that Wallgren would be the Oilers’ representative on the EHL All-Star team. He did not disappoint.
“He was the only defenseman I saw who tried to skate the puck up and make the quick first pass to the forwards,” Lindén added.
Wallgren’s head coach Karl Lindén said that, while Wallgren has played the most minutes for the Oilers this year, the plan is for him to jump to the North American Hockey League in 2018-19. He will explore his NCAA options from there.
“Ian has been our consistently best player throughout the games we’ve played so far. He is carrying a big load for us,” said Lindén. “Ian plays really good defense, but he also joins the rush and makes great outlet passes. He has transitioned well to the smaller ice surfaces in North America.”
Wallgren posted two goals and nine points in his first 15 EHL games. He joined the EHL because he saw it as a good introduction to the North American game. A Swedish coach at the helm, in Lindén, would help with the transition.
“In Sweden, I was going to be a senior. In America, I would have two junior seasons remaining instead of just one as I would in Sweden,” said Wallgren. “I like that the Oilers were located close to New York City. I had a friend in Sweden who knows [EHL Director of Hockey Operations] Mark Kumpel. Mark Kumpel told me there was a team in Connecticut with a Swedish coach. You need to start somewhere.”
Wallgren will continue to work on “all areas” of his game as he works to make a NAHL team next year.
“I am an offensive defenseman, so I will keep working on the defensive part of my game, as well as getting stronger,” he added.
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