Welsh had just made the move from Junior B to Junior A with the Oakville Blades in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Bennett, then an assistant coach with Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., saw a bit of "an unknown," "a fat kid with long hair."
"His feet were a little choppy," said Bennett, who will enter his second season as Union's coach this fall. "We just kind of looked through a lot of that stuff. We saw the intangibles he had."
Three years later, Welsh's 27 goals ranked third in the NCAA, as he helped lead Union to its first berth to the Frozen Four, played in Tampa. Less than 48 hours after his team was eliminated by Ferris State, Welsh signed a contract to play with Carolina and made his NHL debut in the Hurricanes' season finale on Florida's other coast against the Panthers.