Matthew Welsh may be graduating from the Canadian Hockey League but he’s leaving behind quite the legacy on and off the ice.
On May 6, the 20-year-old goaltender who set a QMJHL record for most minutes played during his fifth and final season with the Charlottetown Islanders, received the Dayna Brons Honorary Award from Hockey Gives Blood in partnership with Canadian Blood Services at his Halifax, Nova Scotia, home.
The award recognizes an individual from Canada’s hockey community who exhibits outstanding dedication towards patients who rely on blood and stem cell products in Canada. This person must be deemed to have made a significantly positive impact regarding the awareness and necessity of Canada’s Lifeline.
It’s namesake, Dayna Brons, was the Humboldt Broncos’ athletic therapist who died from injuries sustained in the team’s 2018 bus crash that killed 16 people. She was a frequent blood donor and received transfusions after the crash before dying five days later.
“To help carry out Dayna’s legacy … it’s an honour,” Welsh told Postmedia’s Kevin Mitchell. “She had a lot of character. A lot of integrity and pride. And to be associated with this award is really an honour.”
Welsh became a Hockey Gives Blood Player Ambassador beginning in November, 2019, and got to work right away. Throughout the season he donated blood twice, encouraged a team blood donation event, helped promote the #stemcell registry, posted multiple times on social media, and rallied the Islanders and the Charlottetown community to win the ‘blood drive challenge’ between fellow QMJHL teams and clinics in Saint John Sea and Moncton.
These efforts were characteristic of Welsh throughout his CHL tenure which began as 16-year-old chosen in the second round of the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft. His selflessness, compassion, and dedication of his personal time made him one of the team’s most popular players ever and one that will be remembered for far more than his 13,080 minutes between-the-pipes.
The Dayna Brons Honorary Award has now been given twice, both times to a goalie, with Jacob Ingham named the inaugural recipient as a member of the Mississauga Steelheads last season. Ingham continued his role as a Hockey Gives Blood Player Ambassador this season with the Kitchener Rangers and raised more than $26,000 for the cause in his ‘Jake Saves’ campaign and earned OHL Humanitarian of the Year honours.
Welsh and Ingham are among 14 Hockey Gives Blood Player Ambassadors from across the CHL including Cedrick Andree (Ottawa), Ethan Cap (Edmonton), Carson Focht (Calgary), Zane Franklin (Kamloops), Alexis Gravel (Halifax), Liam Ham (Mississauga), Leif Mattson (Spokane), Cole McLaren (Halifax), Lleyton Moore (Oshawa), Tristen Nielsen (Vancouver), Carter Robertson (Owen Sound), and Jett Woo (Calgary).
Hockey Gives Blood was founded in 2018 by four former hockey players, all of whom were seeking to do more for the hockey community. When the Humboldt Broncos tragedy struck they were filled with a desire to give back. Hockey Gives Blood is a work of passion for each of them.
Watch below as Peter MacDonald, Director of Donor Relations Atlantic Canada, presents the Dayna Brons Honorary Award to Matthew Welsh on behalf of Canadian Blood Services: