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Belfast Uses Scholarship Program to Lure Walsh

A joint partnership with the University of Ulster and the Belfast Giants has made the signing of former Harvard standout Tom Walsh a reality for the 2009-10 ice hockey season, the Belfast Giants of the Elite Hockey League (EIHL) today announced.

Walsh comes to Belfast after a year in the Finish Elite League, one of the top league’s in Europe where he played for HIFK Helsinki. The former NHL Draft pick of the San Jose Sharks played for their top Affiliate team the Worcester Sharks two seasons ago, leading all defencemen on the Sharks in scoring with 36 points in 76 games.

Only three years out of school, Walsh starred for Harvard for four seasons, earning his undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world in 2006. He is a potential star in the Elite League, a player that probably would never have considered Belfast if it were not for their partnership with Ulster University. Walsh will be studying for his Masters in Business (MBA) next season while playing for the Giants, thanks to a scholarship programme through Ulster University.

Player Coach Steve Thornton was pleased to capture such an important player for the 2009-10 season.

“Walsh is exactly what we need, an all-round defenceman that can chip in offensively but understands his number one job is keeping the puck out of our net. He played at a very high level for the last two seasons, and particularly excelled in the AHL for the Worcester Sharks two seasons ago. We needed to strengthen up our defensive unit from last year and this is a huge step in the right direction.”

“He has been described by coaches and former teammates as one of the best all round players and individuals that they have come across. He has been tagged as a leader and as a great role model, not just for people in the community but for his teammates as well. Everyone we spoke to about Tom has had great things to say about this player. We are looking forward to having Tom in the line-up next season.”

General Manager Todd Kelman was grateful to the University of Ulster for making this signing possible.

“Tom is a quality player and was particularly attracted to Belfast because of the potential to study at the University of Ulster. The fact that he can gain his MBA degree while playing for the Giants was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We expect big things next season from Tom and I know he expects big things from himself.”