Thomas Welsh has taken the road less traveled over the past four years. After playing two seasons in Prep School and being drafted in the 5th round of the OHL Draft by the Sarnia Sting, he decided he wanted to play NCAA hockey for Penn State University. After his father was diagnosed with cancer, he thought it would be best to decommit from PSU to play in the OHL when his rights were traded from Sarnia to Mississauga. The Steelheads didn’t give him a fair shake making way for his transfer to the CIS with the Brock University Badgers. But now, he finds himself back in the OHL after the Rangers traded for him.
“I found out about he trade through the agent and through my coach Murray Nystrom, I was very excited about the opportunity,” Welsh said. “The Kitchener Rangers have a long history of success and getting the chance to play for Troy Smith and the Kitchener Rangers was a get opportunity for me.”
In his only year at Brock, he learned valuable lessons playing against better, more physically ready competition that he hopes to use this season.“[Brock] was the right fit for the time. It was quite the difference from playing OHL. Playing as an 18-year old on a team made up of guys 22 years of age to 25 years of age, you learn very quickly of the change in mind set. Maturity and a sense of brotherhood and family was a welcoming touch being so young. I have no regrets and nothing but great knowledge and memories to remember and take on into my new chapter in my career back in the OHL,” Welsh mentioned.
The Rangers find themselves 3rd in the Western Conference and winners in three of their last four games. They’re one of the better teams in the OHL with NHL-caliber talent in Justin Bailey and Ryan MacInnis – among others. Thomas hopes to bring a much needed aspect to the Rangers’ blueline.
“I was brought to the Rangers as a puck-moving defenseman and someone who can step up to make a big hit when the opportunity is there. I’m going to stick to the game plan for the team and do what is needed of me.”
Whatever route Thomas wanted to go down never seemed to go according to plan. Whether it was with Team Canada, Sarnia, or Mississauga, he found himself on the wrong side of the tracks. Because of it, he’s got something to prove.
“Being out of the league and now coming back you want to get out there, get the first hit under you, get back at it and do what takes. Everyone’s got a job and role on a team and you got to stick to the game plan and give it your all,” he began. “I’m looking to settle in with the team and back into the league. I’m going to take it game by game and not really look too much into the future and focus on the next game at hand and what its going to take to get the best result for the team. Team success reflects individual success.”
Even with the opportunity of playing in the OHL again, Welsh still pines for the dream he’s had since he was a kid growing up in Canada: play in the NHL.
“I think every player in the OHL has the dream to continue their hockey career and to play in the NHL. I’m going to do whatever it takes on and off the ice to work towards that goal and to play at the pro level.”