Originally, Thomas had committed to Penn State University, but changed his mind and is now playing for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads. Over the course of the past couple of years I have gotten to know Thomas and I think you will like a few of his answers.
Eric Burton: Thomas, It’s been a while since we chatted, I wanted to follow up with you and see how life the OHL going for you? Last spring I watched the Memorial Cup on the NHL Network and from time-to-time I get to watch an CHL game on The NHL Network so I am a little with your league. Who is the player that has impressed you the most that you have had to play against so far?
Thomas Welsh: I would have to go with Franky Palazzese the goaltender for Sudbury Wolves. Positionally this guy does it well, squares up every-time to the shooter. Covers the net extremely well, and has a great butterfly. Limits his areas of weakness and I have seen him as the “game changer” for the Sudbury team. He is a 93 birth year I believe.
EB: I noticed that you team the Mississauga Steelheads is 25-27-0-5. Looks a bit of a tough season for the team? Can you expand on that a bit?
Thomas Welsh: This team hosted the Memorial cup previously and is in sort of like a rebuilding year. The team actually, was not expected to show well, but had a great start to the season.
I came into this team basically the first of December 2012. The team has already been formed and lines set. I was told by the coaching staff that this year I would be getting limited ice time as a result, we have (3 players on the d line that are drafted fairly high to NHL).
Talent wise I feel that our team can compete with the best, when the Steelhead players decide to compete we can give other OHL teams ago. Example London Knights versus Steelheads back in December 2012 went to a record shootout of 19 rounds with London finally taking the win.
Another good game was our Belleville game, which I scored my first goal.
It was very disappointing that the Steelheads let the trade deadline go by without making any player changes. I would have expected the team to have made a few adjustments.
Is the points and playing time coming for you like you expected it to? Very slowly yes. The coaching staffs have indicated to me that I am adjusting well, that they in fact were expecting me to be a healthy scratch; however this has not been the case. I have basically played every game since signing, just missing 3 games. My ice time varies from about 10 min to 18 min a game. It has been frustrating in that I would like to be given the chance to show what I can do, but with the team just barely making play offs, I am not sure if this will happen. I just have to continue working hard.
Overall, I have been playing well, hitting hard, showing my physical attributes, but I have so much more to offer the team. It’s difficult coming as a rookie and so very late in the season. I know my hard work and coachability will pay off and be rewarded in time and that’s OK.
EB: I enjoyed the videos that you sent me, and I checked out your team the Mississauga Steelheads on Hockey Fights and noticed that your team has 38 fights for far this season, not a lot, middle of the pack. It looks like the Windsor Spitfires are the teams that are leading the OHL with 62 Fighting Majors followed by the Owen Sound Attack with 54. Who is the most feared fighter in the OHL?
EB: What team is the most physical to go up against?
Thomas Welsh: One of the teams that likes to scrap would be Oshawa Generals. When we played them, I think there were a total of 7 fights that game.
EB: So does anyone on your team have to worry about the OHL’s 10 fight rule?
Thomas Welsh: Not this year, none of our players really fight. The two fights that I have had this year, were because of my hits to one of the players (which were good clean hits) but of course the opposing team takes offence and I don’t mind mixing it up. It sometimes can be the momentum changer for a game. (fight one video) and (fight two video)
EB: I see that Kingston’s Jean Dupuy already had 11 fights under his belt this season. What do you think of that [10 fight] rule?
Thomas Welsh: I don’t like the rule. One of my favourite players growing up is Scott Stevens and I think that the OHL and NHL are taking fighting out of the league. At times hockey has become very boring to watch.
From a coaching perspective, if an opposing team has a good forward or goal scorer and your team can eliminate that threat by having your enforcer out on the ice or by playing physical that can be all the difference in giving up 2 points or getting 2 points and a win out of the night. Don Cherry just talked about this. He likes the hits and physical play in the game. You can neutralize a team by having an enforcer.
EB: I looking at your videos that you sent me, It looks like you play a pretty physical game back on the blue line. What kind of a defenseman Are you? (are you more of a grind it out defenseman, offensive or hybrid defenseman?)
Thomas Welsh: I am typically a stay at home blue line defenseman. I love the physical play and like throwing very good clean, hard hits. I can be offensive when needed not at the expense of my team. Willing to jump into the play, I have a great slap shot, with good outlet pass. I am noted for my penalty killing skills.
EB: Thanks for your time… Look forward to hearing back from you.
Thomas Welsh: No problem and thanks a million.