Riley Wallace commits to play for defending champion Beavers
After spending part of last winter out west, Riley Wallace is heading south to continue his puck stopping ways.
The 20-year-old goaltender from Oak Lake has committed to play for Minot State University. The Beavers compete at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I level.
“What I'm looking forward to most is playing college hockey so close to home, and playing with a great group of guys … I know most of them already,” said the son of Tod and Penny Wallace.
He also noted that he is pleased to join a great program. MSU won the 2019 Division I national championship. Its title defence was scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic. After graduating two of the ACHA’s top netminders, Minot State head coach Wade Regier said he is excited to add Wallace.
"He has been in contact for months and you could tell early on he was motivated to get his college hockey and studies going,” the coach said on the team’s website. “Riley knows he has to put in a lot of work to be successful at the college level, but I am confident in working with Wyatt (Waselenchuk, the team’s goaltending coach) he is going to be a big-time goalie for us in the future. His potential is endless."
As for his academics, Wallace has narrowed it down to pursuing a degree in physical education or business. His interest on business comes from his farming background.
“To understand the business side in today’s world for farming is an important,” Wallace said. “That’s all I've ever wanted to do when hockey does come to an end is come home and farm, and I can't see that changing to be honest.”
He appreciates that playing in Minot gives his family an increased opportunity to attend games. His mom is from nearby Bottineau and Wallace is a dual citizen.
“My family support has been amazing throughout my whole career,” he said. “Right from when I was just young to now, they have never missed a game and have been there for every step of the way! Can't thank them enough.”
A former Southwest Cougars U18 player, Wallace was a rookie with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Virden Oil Capitals in 2018-2019. Last winter he split the season between the Junior A Oil Capitals and the Junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Columbia Valley Rockies, where he played for former National Hockey League goaltender Wade Dubielewicz.
With the Invermere, B.C.-based Rockies, Wallace appeared in 11 games and had a 3.23 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. In early January, he was named the KIJH’s Second Star of the Week. Wallace backstopped his squad to back-to-back wins of 2-1 and 4-1. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder stopped a combined 58 shots, had a .966 save percentage, and recorded a 1.00 GAA.
“I had lots of fun in Invermere even though my time was short there,” Wallace said. “It’s a smaller town so it was really easy to settle in as I'm used to being in small towns. ... The support from the community and my billets was awesome, which made it real fun to play there.”
HunterWallace drafted by USHL’s Force
Wallace's younger brother, Hunter,will have some options as he pursues his hockey career.
In 2018, the Virden Oil Capitals of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League auto-protected the son of Tod and Penny Wallace. He is a prospect of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Last week the 17-year-old was taken by the Fargo (N.D.) Force in phase two of the United States Hockey League Draft.
“I was very honored to be selected by the Fargo Force of the USHL,” Wallace said. “I'm very excited about my next chapter in my hockey career. I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.”
The Force grabbed the 5-foot-6, 137-pound forward, in the 16th round, 239 overall. Last season Wallace had 36 goals and 69 points in 48 games for the Southwest Cougars U18 team. He also played one game with the Oil Caps as an affiliated player.
“Manitoba is an area that we scout heavily, and Hunter is a player that has been on our radar for quite some time,” Force associate head coach Eli Rosendahl said. “We love the speed that Hunter plays with. He has an ability to put defencemen on their heels. He is a creative offensive player that has a track record of scoring goals. Most of all, we love the energy and compete he brings to the ice every shift. He simply finds a way. We’re excited to see Hunter in a Fargo Force jersey sooner rather than later.”
The USHL is the highest sanctioned level of junior hockey in the United States. Virden products Bryn Chyzyk and Wyatt Kalynuk, a former Oil Capital, competed in the USHL before playing NCAA Division I hockey. In addition to Wallace, the Oil Caps had other prospects selected in this year’s USHL Draft: Carson Cherepak, G, Winnipeg (Lincoln, 12 Rd, 175) and Roux Bazin, F, Treherne (Cedar Rapids, 16 Rd, 230).