Jul. 27—Barely two years after retiring as a professional player, Terrence Wallin is now the coach of the Maine Mariners.
Wallin, 30, who played for the Mariners from 2018-2020, was introduced as the ECHL franchise's third head coach Wednesday. Wallin was the Mariners' assistant coach last season. He replaces Ben Guite, who took the job as head coach at Bowdoin College earlier this month.
Wallin was serving as the interim coach since Guite's resignation. He found out last week he would be taking over and signed his contract on Monday.
"Obviously now you're guiding the ship. I'm not scared of it but people will talk about how I'm young but I've always prided myself on being a student of the game and being a vocal leader," Wallin said.
"My job is to get the best out of my players," he said.
Wallin will also be the point person for personnel moves.
"As an interim I was reaching out to agents and trying to sign guys. I'll have a heavy hand in that," Wallin said. "At this level, you don't have the assets you'd have at the AHL or NHL, so you have to wear a lot of hats."
Wallin, who grew up in Yardley, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes outside Philadelphia, has built strong connections to Maine, professionally and personally.
He spent the final two seasons of his five-season professional playing career with the Mariners. Wallin was the first player the franchise traded for, when he was acquired from the Adirondack Thunder in September 2018. An alternate captain with the Mariners in their inaugural season, Wallin also spent a good chunk of the 2018-19 season playing in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
In 2018-19 and 2019-20, Wallin finished in the top four in scoring for Maine. Overall, he had 34 goals and 39 assists in 97 career games as a Mariner.
Last August, Wallin was named an assistant on Guite's staff. The Mariners went 33-31-5-3, making the ECHL playoffs for the first time.
"He had a hand in every facet of the Mariners' program and gained valuable experience that prepared him for this new challenge," Guite said in a team press release.
Wallin's connection to southern Maine goes back even further, to when he was finishing his college hockey days at University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
"My parents retired in Kennebunk and they've been there about seven years. When I heard the Mariners were coming back I asked for a trade to Maine," Wallin said. "My wife (Erin) is from Lowell. We met when we were in college. I knew the Maine area a little bit from visiting, Erin's family is in Lowell, and now that we're here, I'm so happy we don't have to leave to be honest."
Wallin played 138 career games over four seasons for UMass-Lowell, a Hockey East Division I program. As a freshman he played in every game, scoring 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists). Over the next three seasons his role changed to being a defense-first forward. His combined scoring over his final three seasons was the same as his freshman year — eight goals and 17 assists.
"Going through that little bit of adversity and having to change my game a little bit changed me and made me think the game differently," Wallin said. "All growing up I was skilled and then I had to become a defensive player. Once I got to the pros I became a 200-foot player and I think that it definitely helps me become a good coach. As a coach you need to be able to think the game in different ways. You can't be singularly focused just on offense."
In 2019, while still playing, Wallin founded Evolution Hockey, a skill development program for players of all ages. In the summer of 2020, Wallin became the travel director and director of skill development for the Southern Maine Youth Hockey travel program, which is now known as Maine Evolution.
He said during the Mariners' season he'll let the Maine Evolution board of directors and its coaching staff run the programs. He plans to be actively involved with the youth program's summer skills camps.
Wallin's first order of business as the Mariners' coach will be to round out his on-ice staff. He said he's begun the interview process for assistant coaches and the team will also be hiring a director of hockey operations.
The Mariners 2022-23 season begins Friday, Oct. 21 at Trois-Rivieres, followed by the home opener on Oct. 22, also against Trois-Rivieres.