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Milford’s Ireland Represents Team, League at TD Garden

Brian Ireland received the 2016 Boston Bruins-MIAA Sportsmanship Award. Here is shown with Cam Neely of the Bruins. Contributed photo

For the second straight season, a Milford High School hockey player was chosen to represent the team and the Hockomock League at TD Garden after senior Brian Ireland was named the recipient of the 2016 Boston Bruins-MIIA Sportsmanship Award.
"It was really fun, I met some cool kids and the experience is something I definitely won't forget," Ireland said. 
The MHS goalie said he and the players representing the other leagues in the state were treated to some food before the game and Bruins great and current team executive Cam Neeley presented them with their sportsmanship medals. At the end of the first period, the players made their way down to the Bruins' bench to be recognized by the Garden crowd and shown on the Jumbotron. 
Ireland was a mainstay in net for the Scarlet Hawks this year, holding the undermanned squad together through a winless campaign. 
"The season was definitely tough, the toughest part was keeping everyone's hopes up and having them not give up," Ireland said. "It wasn't just me, it was everyone on the team who wanted it. Even though we didn't win a game, it didn't matter. We went into every game and fought our hardest."
"Irreplaceable, that's exactly the word I would use, I can't imagine the team without him," head coach Michael Balzarini said. "Not just from a goaltending perspective, but in the locker room, between periods, on the ice in practice."
Ireland was particularly helpful when it cam to welcoming the eighth grade members called up to the varsity level to fill out the roster.
"You'd have thought these kids had been right along side Brian since they were freshman," Balzarini said. "He jelled with them right away and took the eighth graders under his wing. From a leadership perspective, he welcomed the eighth graders with open arms." 
Ireland's recognition on behalf of the team follows Griffin Lynch, who won the award for MHS last season. Milford Athletic Director Peter Boucher said it's very rare to have a school win in back-to-back seasons.
"I have been in the league, shoot, 30-something years and I have never seen it back-to-back for the same sport," he said. "It speaks volumes to what these guys are doing, what the coaching staff is doing, and how they conduct themselves."
Boucher called Ireland a "hard working, lunch-pail kind of kid."
"I personally just love the kid," he said. "He is one of those kids who comes along maybe every seven or eight years and has a great attitude. You don't even know whether he's won or lost, he just loves to play."
Ireland said he is deciding between Southern New Hampshire University, Franklin Pierce, and Alvernia University in Pennsylvania. Depending on where he attends college, Ireland said he could pursue a business degree, or study criminology or engineering. He said he has not ruled out walking on to a collegiate hockey team, or playing club. An accomplished baseball player at MHS, he said he may also play that sport, depending on where he attends college. Ireland said playing hockey at Milford has been an important stepping-stone in his development as a player and as a person.
"I don't regret a thing in four years," he said. "My time at MHS taught me a lot of life lessons on and off the ice, it's made me who I am today. Hockey played a huge role in that."




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