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Welsh settles in with Spruce Kings

Whistlerite adjusting to new surroundings after off-season trade

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Whistlerite Nolan Welsh has the chance to spruce up his game this season.

The 18-year-old forward received a surprising change of British Columbia Hockey League scenery when he was traded from the Victoria Grizzlies to the Prince George Spruce Kings in August.

"It was tough being traded, but I think I have a really good opportunity here," he said. "I didn't really see it coming but I guess the Victoria organization had to do it. They didn't like doing it, but they had to do what's best for them, I guess.

"I'm just happy I got to come here and come to another great team."

Prince George got off to a rollicking start to the season with a 4-0-1 record out of the gate to entrench themselves as contenders in the Mainland Division early on.

"We have a really good team and we're off to a good start," he said. "We started off the first five games without losing and I think we're one of the top teams in the league this year."

Welsh said the adjustment to a new club has been eased by the fact he played with a handful of his new teammates at the Burnaby Winter Club, including his most recent linemates Ben Poisson and Ethan de Jong.

As well, the Spruce Kings play a comfortable style for him — fast — and he's happy to step in wherever he's asked.

"Right now, I'm just playing wherever they need me. We've been playing well, so hopefully I can step in and play some more minutes as the season goes on," he said.

Head coach Adam Maglio, who is in his first year in the role after serving as the team's associate coach the past two seasons, likes what he's seen out of Welsh.

"He's a really good kid, a high-character kid that's fit in really well with the group. He's a real reliable player that plays 200 feet on the ice that you can use in basically all situations," he said. "He surprised me a bit with his offensive prowess as well."

Maglio said Welsh is working well as a penalty killer while receiving a little time on the power play. While Welsh has shown offensive capability, though, it hasn't shown up on the scoresheet as he's posted one assist in nine games after notching 11 assists in 52 games in Victoria last year.

"(We'd like to see him) bring just a little more offence to the team. Obviously, we'll give him more opportunity to be in those types of situations," he said. "He seems to be progressing so he's definitely on the right track."

A number of Whistler hockey players are in new locations this season. Welsh's brother Tyler, a teammate with the Grizzlies last year, crossed the continent to join the Yale Bulldogs. Owen Reith, who started for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League's Princeton Posse last season, climbed a level higher to join the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Defenceman Taylor Derynck, who helped the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's OCN Blizzard to the league final last season, got a little closer to home with an offseason deal to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Kindersley Klippers.

In the pro ranks, forward Garrett Milan, who spent the last two seasons in Europe, primarily with the Elite Ice Hockey League's Edinburgh Capitals, has gone to Florida to skate with the Southern Professional Hockey League's Pensacola Ice Flyers.

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