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Family first: The story of men’s hockey members Fabian and Daniel Walsh

Family first: The story of men’s hockey members Fabian and Daniel Walsh

By: Mike Still, Dalhousie Athletics

Hockey has been in Fabian and Daniel Walsh’s bloodline for as long as they can remember. Their father, a former draft pick of the QMJHL, instilled the love of the game in his sons at a young age, and both started playing organized hockey once they reached age four.

“Basically as soon as we learned how to walk, we learned how to skate,” says Fabian, the older of the two brothers.

For Daniel, putting the skates on was inevitable.

“I never fought it,” says Daniel. “We both loved it and it was just that he [their father] grew up playing it so we were going to play it too.”

Due to a two-year age gap, the brothers, who were born and raised in Ontario, rarely got the opportunity to play on the same team growing up, aside from a year-and-a-half with the Cumberland Grads of the Canadian Junior Hockey League – a time that both cherished.

“If something goes wrong and he [Daniel] gets hurt it’s a bit of a different experience, and I’m kind of experiencing all of those things again now [with Dalhousie], but not a lot of people get to play at a high level with their brother so it’s something that I’ll cherish forever,” says Fabian.

While both brothers started the 2011-12 season with the Grads, the two briefly ended up on separate paths, as Fabian was traded to the Kanata Stallions where he was a solid contributor offensively for two seasons. Daniel plied his trade in the OHL with the Ottawa 67s until the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

As the 2013-14 season reached closer and his junior eligibility was running out, Fabian knew he had a decision to make. He had considered playing for the Carleton Ravens of the OUA, but also knew he wanted to get out of Ottawa and start fresh. That’s when Dalhousie’s head coach Chris Donnelly came calling.

Donnelly has a scout and former Dalhousie hockey player named Joel Brown, who lives near Kanata, where Fabian was playing at the time. He was able to connect the two, and after meeting with Donnelly in Ottawa, the older brother decided that Dalhousie was the right fit.

The move has worked out for the best, as Fabian, who was originally pencilled in as a third or fourth line player, has improved in each of his three years with the club. He’s currently an alternate captain and led the team in scoring last season with 24 points.

Meanwhile, in the back of Daniel’s mind, a move to the Maritimes had also started to become a reality. He made the trek for the 2013-14 season, playing two seasons in the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) before joining the Tigers last year. 

“Fabian going to Dal was the reason I came out here, because he was playing with guys who had been in the MHL,” said Daniel.

“It was pretty much set in stone in my head that I was going to come to Dal after anyways,” he adds. “Fabian was here and I knew that we’d get the chance to play together again for a couple years at least.”

While the brothers’ individual journeys to Halifax were slightly different, they’ve ultimately found themselves on the same path yet again – this time in search of an AUS conference title.

There’s no doubt that the chemistry is there between the two of them, and with a full year together with the Tigers, their head coach is optimistic that they’ll provide the scoring punch needed to complement a strong defensive unit and solid play in net for the 2016-17 campaign.

“We’ve made a lot of strides defensively in terms of keeping goals down, and now as we look towards more offensive players, both these kids could certainly fit the bill,” says Donnelly.

The Tigers begin the 2016-17 regular season hosting StFX on Friday, October 7 at 7:00pm at the Halifax Forum.