Nick Welsh always dreamed of playing professional hockey.
That dream came true on August 2 when he signed with HC Banska Bystrica of the Tipsport Liga in Slovakia.
“It meant a lot to me to sign my first pro deal,” said Welsh proudly.
“My goal ever since I can remember was to play hockey professionally and to finally make that a reality is a dream come true.”
Welsh leaves St. Mary’s University after just two seasons.
There’s no question the highly skilled versatile defender definitely left his mark on the USports level.
Welsh recorded 67 points in 58 games and was a combined + 8 over two seasons with the Huskies.
Welsh finished his Major Junior career captaining the rebuilding Moncton Wildcats in 2017-2018.
The smooth skating offensively gifted rearguard starred for four seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes before joining the Wildcats.
Welsh’s QMJHL numbers over his five year junior career were outstanding.
Unfortunately Welsh went undrafted.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia product received NHL Camp invites from the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators the last few years and by all accounts played very well.
The opportunity to sign never came his way.
Did Welsh ever think the opportunity to play professionally would ever come his way?
“I’ve always been pretty confident in myself as a player, so I always believed that if I kept working hard and just gave everything I had into this game that I would eventually get an opportunity to play pro.”
“At the same time it’s still a very surreal feeling to finally accomplish that goal,” admitted Welsh who arrived in Slovakia two days ago.
Saying hockey is a way of life for the Welsh family would be a massive understatement.
Nick, Matthew and Zach continue to pursue their hockey dreams under the watchful eyes of their parents Chris and Christina.
“Plain and simple, without my parents this never would’ve happened for me,” said a reflective Welsh.
“They’ve supported me every step of the way since I started playing hockey.”
“The amount of sacrifices they’ve made for both myself and my two little brothers is incredible.”
“I truly can’t thank them enough.”
Matthew Welsh saw his five year Q career come to an end this year.
Welsh starred for the Charlottetown Islanders and is slated to begin his USports career with his brother at St.Mary’s this fall.
“It’s definitely disappointing that I won’t get the chance to play with Matt this year at SMU.”
“Since we’re two years apart we never got the chance to play on a team together and it would’ve been nice to have that opportunity.”
“I think that’s what I going to miss the most,” Welsh said.
Welsh points at his time in the Q and USports as a major catalyst for his development and progression in the game.
“I feel like my time playing in the Q and in USports has really prepared me for the pro level.”
“The Q is more similar to pro when you compare how many games are played and the travel.”
“That really prepared me for the grind of a pro season and being on the ice everyday.”
“USports is obviously a much shorter season, but your playing against men whereas in junior there’s a lot of younger guys. I would say the style of play in USport’s, with the physicality, would be more similar to pro,” explained Welsh.
Did the prospect of the USports season being cancelled or pushed back play into Welsh’s decision to pro this year rather than waiting to finish his degree?
“I was looking at all my options after our season this year, but was definitely considering going back to school.”
“Once they announced that our season would be pushed back until January I felt like my best option for my hockey career would be to go pro,” Welsh said confidently.
Does the star defender plan on finishing up his current degree from SMU?
“I plan on continuing my degree online for the time being.”
“I won’t be able to take a full course load, but I absolutely plan on getting my degree within the next couple of years.”
Welsh’s journey in the game is truly inspirational especially considering the impact his has made in the communities where he played.
Character, work ethic class and playing the game the right way runs in the Welsh family.
One can only imagine how competitive that household was and still is.
It’s help define three separate yet uniquely similar and amazing careers.
Hockey dreams shared amongst brothers inspire and motivate.
The bond shared between brothers lasts forever.
“My brothers and I are super competitive in pretty much everything we do,” Welsh said.
“That’s just the mentality that we grew up with.”
“We always want to be the best at things whether we’re playing a video game or doing a certain exercise in the gym.”
“I think it’s actually played a huge part in all our achievements in hockey because we push each other hard and it only makes us better at the end of the day,” admitted Welsh.
“With that being said we’ve always supported each other as well whenever we aren’t competing against each other.”
“I know being the oldest that they look up to me and obviously I’m very proud of all that they’ve accomplished.”
Spoken like a true big brother who definitely paved the way.
Nick Welsh’s hockey dreams have become a reality.
Welsh is quick to serve up advice for other young players and student athletes regarding turning pro and following their dreams.
“I would just tell them to continue to work hard and not to lose sight of your goal.”
“Sometimes it’s tough playing at the USports level because you feel like you might not be getting enough exposure to pro scouts, but if you stay focused and work hard you’ll get an opportunity.”
The twenty three year old is about to embark on his own unique path in professional hockey and take full advantage of the opportunity that he not only deserves, but earned.
Nick Welsh’s path in the game was undoubtedly shaped by the relationship between his parents and brother’s and the unwavering and unrelenting belief in his ability.
Hockey dreams do come true.