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Meet A New Wolf: Jeremy Welsh an instant hit

First in a series on the Chicago Wolves’ new players, forward Jeremy Welsh discusses his path to professional hockey and opening the season with a game-winning goal.

When he scored the game-winning goal in the Chicago Wolves season opener on Saturday night, new forward Jeremy Welsh joined some illustrious company.

The 26-year-old from Banfield, Ontario, became the fifth player in franchise history to score the game-winning goal in an opener that doubled as his Wolves debut.

Welsh now belongs to a group that originated with James Black (1998-99), who played 352 games in the National Hockey League, and grew with forwards Ramzi Abid (2005-06), Darren Haydar (2006-07) and Dmitrij Jaskin (2013-14).

“It was pretty cool, being named the first star of the game and everything,” said the genial Welsh. “It was packed in here and the fans were great. Driving home after the game felt great. It’s always nice to get a goal early in the year too. It stinks to start on an eight-game slide or something like that.”

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Welsh earned his goal in a situation that typifies the way he plays: He put himself in the right place at the right time. Linemate Rob Bordson rushed the puck into the offensive zone and a Charlotte defenseman poked it away. Welsh, who was trailing Bordson in the high slot, claimed possession and rifled the puck off the post into the net before goaltender John Muse’s glove could catch up to it.

“Welsh is a finisher and a hard worker,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “He works the full length of the ice. Really, it was a broken play, but he’s smart enough to follow plays up. Even if the puck went into the corner, he’s in position in the middle and he can go to either side. He just played it well. That’s part of the schooling that he has. That’s certainly something that I didn’t teach him.”

Welsh joined the Wolves after spending the 2012-13 season in the Carolina Hurricanes organization and the 2013-14 season in the Vancouver Canucks organization. He has appeared in 25 NHL games and delivered one goal and one assist, but realized when he signed this summer that he’d likely be in Chicago with the Wolves.

“Just to be part of an organization that wants to win and treats their players first-class is pretty good,” Welsh said. “The American League schedule can be a bit of a grind and this is the best of both worlds. You’re either a pretty close bus or plane ride everywhere.”

FUN FACT: Welsh attended Union College, which captured the 2014 NCAA hockey championship. During his final season at Union (2011-12), he ranked fourth in the NCAA with 27 goals and led the Dutchmen to their first Frozen Four.