Kellen Ireland of Turlock has a dream that is unlike any student-athlete who comes out of the Valley. He has a dream of playing collegiate ice hockey. And not just any, he wants to play at the highest level.
“My current goal for hockey is to play Division I college hockey,” said Ireland.
In order to achieve that Ireland knew that the path would be an extremely challenging one — starting with the distance between Turlock and an ice rink.
Upon graduating from Turlock High School last May, Ireland decided to stay at home and continue his growth with the 18AA Golden State Elite Eagles, an ice hockey team based out of Dublin/Vacaville, while taking two semesters at Merced College to keep up with his education.
“Staying home one more year was the best decision I made in a long time,” said Ireland who also played varsity tennis for the Bulldogs.
In the spring season for the Bulldogs, Ireland left his mark on the program after winning the CCC doubles tournament with teammate Ziya Ziya on April 28.
“Leaving high school with a high note was good but I miss everyone at Turlock,” said Ireland.
The time and opportunity to focus on his dream with the help and support of his family allowed him to flourish in all aspects.
“I've been healthy with no injuries so far. I've been playing really good and smart hockey. I don't follow the puck, the puck will find me,” he said.
Currently his Eagles squad is 22-0 and don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Earlier this year, Ireland and his Eagles teammates won the State championship in ice hockey for the California Amateur Hockey Association.
Since then things seem to only be getting better for Ireland.
The team has won multiple tournaments since September, earning the No. 1 spot in the country after their latest win in the Silver stick tournament in Las Vegas Nov. 24-27.
“It has pros and cons being No. 1 in the nation. It is pretty darn cool, but on the other hand we have targets on the back of our jerseys because teams want to beat us,” said Ireland.