Back in September of 2011, I was informed about a highly regarded hockey player that had chosen the NCAA hockey route instead of the CHL route.
At the time, it appeared that the Penn State Nittany Lions had landed Canadian born Thomas Welsh to play his Division I hockey at Penn State University instead of playing in the CHL.
I interviewed his father Mike via email about his son’s decision to join PSU hockey. That article can be found at Inside Hockey.
This past September, Welsh decommitted from Penn State and decided to weigh his options, I wrote about that back in September and that article can be found at Inside Hockey as well.
Yesterday, while I was monitoring my twitter feed I saw a tweet where Thomas Welsh had decided to play for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL.
Last night, I reached out to Thomas Welsh and he agreed to an interview.
EB: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Sorry to hear about the passing of your father Mike. Can you tell us what It was like to play for Canada East during the recent 2012 Junior “A” Challenge?
Thomas Welsh: This was an opportunity of a life time. When I was notified that I had made the final selection camp I was pumped. It was sad as well, as my Dad passed away the day earlier of being notified, so he wasn’t aware.
The Team Canada East camp was intense, every player there deserved to be there. The caliber and bar were set high to make the team. I gave it 100% every practice and game, in fact on the final day, final game, 1st period I broke my nose. Had it reset on the bench and continued to play with packing in it. I was notified the next day by the Team Canada East coaching staff that I had made the team. Everything happened very quickly as the next day the team left for Yarmouth.
With our first exhibition game against Russia, our bus pulled up to the arena and it was unreal to see fans had lined up 2 hours prior to game to try to get tickets to a sold out event. The community of Yarmouth was nuts, loud, and extremely supportive of all the teams, but especially to the Team Canada Teams. I have played in front of crowds around 500 but not 1700 people. It was so professional, from the volunteers, to the staff running the event.
Team Canada East visited a school, played floor hockey with the kids, and talked about the importance of schooling, what it’s like being a player and such.
Disappointing finish for our team, not the result the team should have gotten but none the less an experience that I will forever be grateful for. Wearing the jersey and representing Canada is a thrill.
EB: Congrats on your next endeavor in hockey. I noticed on twitter that you were heading to the Mississauga steelheads of the OHL. Can you give us some details what led to your making the jump to the OHL? When did the OHL become an option again?
Thomas Welsh: Well, as you were aware I had a commitment with Penn State for 2013 but decommitted in September of this year, when we could not come to terms with the original agreement. I was still very much interested in NCAA hockey and as such was doing my due diligence with other Div. 1 NCAA schools.
When Steelheads contacted my advisor and family for a meeting in June, of this year, it was just a meet and greet sort of thing. They have been monitoring my development steadily since my acquisition and have stayed in contact.
This week, less than 24 hours ago, the Steelheads, presented an offer. After discussion with my mom and my advisor were able to come to an agreement. I have a strong interest in schooling along with developing as a player and I feel at this time that the Steelheads will assist me in this next step academically and athletically. I am looking forward to developing as a player with the Steelheads and Coach Boyd.
NCAA is a fantastic option and I have been lucky to have the option of the OHL as well. I think either option is great and it’s an individual thing.
EB: When are you going to be NHL draft eligible? My NHL draft is 2013. Who is your favorite NHL team and who would you like to be drafted by?
Thomas Welsh: I think being drafted by any NHL team would be a dream, but would probably have to say Leafs. I’m a hometown boy.
EB: According to the Toronto Sun, you’re expected to play tonight against the Niagara IceDogs.
Thomas Welsh: Yes, I am expecting the paperwork to be finalized prior to game time.
EB: Thank you for your time and best of luck to you. If you don’t mind I would like to follow up with you as your season in the OHL progresses.
Thomas Welsh: No problem, Thanks Eric you have been fantastic.
Originally Posted at the Hockey Writers Combine.