The Welshes are a hockey family.
The game has taken brothers Nick, Matt and Zach from their Halifax home all
across Canada, from minor hockey tournaments to Major Junior, U SPORTS,
Team Canada and the NHL.
Though all three have played their way through the Halifax Macs, one of the
most celebrated Midget programs in Atlantic Canada, Zach is doing something
this week that neither of his older brothers did – compete at the TELUS
Cup, Canada’s National Midget Championship.
A 15-year-old defenceman, Zach’s Macs are one of six teams vying for a
national title in Thunder Bay. The significance of following in his
brothers’ footsteps through the Halifax program is not lost on him.
“It’s kind of a tradition in Halifax,” says Zach. “To be a part of this
team and to be at this level here on this stage is pretty special.”
While Zach toils away on the blue-line for the Macs, older brothers Matt,
19, and Nick, 21, have been making their own marks in the hockey world.
Matt just finished his fourth season with the Charlottetown Islanders,
leading all QMJHL goaltenders in minutes played (3330:34) while finishing
second in saves (1,490). His play in 2017-18 earned him an invite last
summer from Hockey Canada to be part of the World Junior Showcase.
Nick attended Buffalo Sabres rookie camp last fall before averaging a point
per game (29 points in 29 games) in his first year of U SPORTS hockey for
St. Mary’s University. He played five seasons in the QMJHL, captaining the
Moncton Wildcats in his final campaign.
And both played at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge – Nick for Team
Atlantic in 2014 and Matt for Canada White in 2016.
So if Zach needs a little advice, he knows just where to go.
“To be part of a family that has had a lot of success, I think it works to
your advantage,” he says. “I can’t say enough about them. They pushed me a
Zach has learned from his brothers. He attributes his compete level, his
drive off the ice and his practice habits on it to the example they set.
Seeing them move up the hockey ranks from league to league showed him not
only that it could be done, but how.
What they could never show him, though, is how to reach a TELUS Cup.
“Maybe one of the only things I have on them,” Zach says.
Tim Boyce has been the head coach in Halifax since the 2013-14 season and
coached Matt while he was with the Macs. He knew Zach through his Bantam
years in Nova Scotia and also through coaching his older brother.
From the first time he stepped into the locker room, Boyce says Zach
“As a hockey player, he is all business. True pro,” Boyce says. “Wants to
get better every day, knows the things he needs to work on and definitely
applies the time and effort into that to become a better hockey player.”
Boyce saw it first-hand through the season with Welsh and his skating.
Along with his work with skating coaches, the Macs bench boss often found
Welsh at the rink on days off working on power skating drills by himself.
The TELUS Cup marks the end of the season for Welsh and the Macs, but not
the end of the work. He is eligible for the QMJHL Entry Draft in early
June, and is hoping it leads to the start of another hockey journey.
With Matt and Nick having made their names in the Q, the comparisons will
inevitably continue, but that’s still a month or so away. For now, Zach is
doing his own thing in Thunder Bay.