Ed­u­ca­tion first

Matthew Welsh rec­og­nized for ex­celling in the class­room

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - JA­SON MALLOY

Matthew Welsh is a bright young man.

He fig­ured out the im­por­tance of a good ed­u­ca­tion early on, thanks to a sup­port­ive fam­ily, while ex­celling in the crease as a hockey goalie.

“School al­ways came first. If I wasn’t per­form­ing in the class­room, I wasn’t go­ing to be go­ing to sports,” he said. “If I was sick one day, and I couldn’t go to school, there was no chance I was go­ing to hockey prac­tice later that night.”

The Char­lot­te­town Is­landers vet­eran won the Marcel-Robert Tro­phy as the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) scholas­tic player of the year this sea­son after be­ing a fi­nal­ist in 2017-18. The Hal­i­fax na­tive, who turns 20 in July, re­cently was pre­sented with one of the three Guy Lafleur Awards of Ex­cel­lence and Merit by the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens.

Welsh posted a 32-19-2-3 record this sea­son with a 2.90 goal­sagainst av­er­age and a .902 save per­cent­age. He main­tained a 90 per cent av­er­age in his sec­ond year study­ing busi­ness at UPEI.

“There’s a lot of tough things that come along with be­ing a goalie in ma­jor ju­nior hockey, es­pe­cially men­tally,” Welsh said. “It can be very hard at points. For me, school takes a step back from that.”

While hockey is im­por­tant to Welsh and he wants to go as far as he can with the sport, he also re­al­izes he spends three hours of the day at the rink.

“I like to get away from hockey,” he said.

Some­times that in­cludes school­work or hang­ing out with friends and play­ing video games.

Be­fore ma­jor ju­nior hockey, Welsh was un­sure where his fu­ture would take him. One thing that was crys­tal clear was his aca­demics.

“I knew one thing and that is ed­u­ca­tion was go­ing to be a con­stant,” he said. “I knew I was go­ing to get a de­gree.”

He had op­tions to go to prep school and was talk­ing with Di­vi­sion 1 schools south of the border. The Is­landers se­lected him in the sec­ond round of the 2015 draft and he signed with the team, mak­ing the squad as a 16-year-old rookie.

“The big thing for me was the school pack­age that the CHL (Cana­dian Hockey League) pro­vides,” Welsh said. “Com­ing into the CHL, and hav­ing that school pack­age, is kind of a dream come true.”

Gen­er­ally, a player re­ceives a year of tu­ition for each sea­son they play in the QMJHL.

“That was re­ally big for my fam­ily and I,” Welsh said. “I could have pur­sued NCAA and see if I could have got a schol­ar­ship that way but there were no guar­an­tees with that. I knew by sign­ing with Char­lot­te­town I wouldn’t have to worry about at least the fi­nan­cial side of a post-sec­ondary de­gree.”

Welsh has an older and younger brother. Older brother Nick played four QMJHL sea­sons with Shaw­ini­gan and one with Monc­ton. The de­fence­man was named a sec­ond team all-Cana­dian and a mem­ber of the U Sports all-rookie team this sea­son after scor­ing at a point-per-game clip with the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

Younger brother Zach, also a de­fence­man, was a sec­ond-round pick of the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles at Satur­day’s QMJHL draft in Que­bec City.

Matthew said his par­ents – Christina and Chris – in­vested a lot of time and money to al­low the three to play hockey at a high level. That in­vest­ment will see them get a good ed­u­ca­tion through the sport they love.

“Ed­u­ca­tion has al­ways been of high value in my fam­ily,” Matthew said.

Is­landers head coach Jim Hul­ton has called Welsh a terrific role model on and off the ice. He has also used him as a per­fect ex­am­ple when meet­ing with fam­i­lies to

alle­vi­ate any of their con­cerns about ed­u­ca­tion and ma­jor ju­nior hockey.

Matthew hasn’t de­ter­mined what his ma­jor will be but is lean­ing to­ward ac­count­ing or fi­nance. The Hal­i­fax West High School grad plans on get­ting his master of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion and see­ing what the fu­ture holds for him after his com­plet­ing his ju­nior ca­reer this sea­son the Is­landers.

JA­SON MALLOY/THE GUARDIAN

Char­lot­te­town Is­landers goalie Matthew Welsh is go­ing into his third year study­ing busi­ness at UPEI.

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