Turlock is known for its outstanding athletes. This relatively small town turns out more than its fair share of college level — and a few professional — athletes in baseball, softball, volleyball, track, water polo, swimming and football. But Kellen Ireland is surely the first Turlock native to find success in the sport of hockey.
“The first season I played with them was amazing,” said Ireland. “We made it to the National championship (Fraser Cup) but came up short, losing in the semi-finals. This past season we earned another chance – and won the national championship.”
Back in late March, Ireland's team made a deep run, winning eight games in a two-and-a-half-week span. On April 3, the Brahmas defeated the L.A. Nordiques, 2-1, to capture the Fraser Cup.
“It was a bumpy ride but we were all in for the ride,” he said.
In the first round of playoffs, the Brahmas met the Mid Cities Stars in the best of three game series.
Ireland and his squad won 4-1, then followed up with a 3-2 victory to secure the sweep and head into the South Finals.
Once in the South Finals, the Brahmas met the Atlanta Capitols. In the first game they won 5-1, then in the second contest they shutout the opposition, 5-0.
This win earned them a spot in the Fraser Cup finals.
Once in the FC finals, they won 6-1 over the Jr Sens and then redeemed themselves over the JR Blues, the team that kicked them out of the playoffs last year, with a 3-1 victory.
“The last day of the round robin, if we won this game this would put is the Fraser Cup Final because of points and how many games we had won in our bracket,” said Ireland. “We had to play North Iowa. The team to beat, everyone was rooting for them because they were favored to win the whole thing. We came out strong and played our best.”
It showed because they beat them in the end, 3-1.
With the win, they were off to the finals.
“We had to play the LA Nordiques and this game was very nerve wrecking,” said Ireland.
It was a close one, but the Brahmas managed to come away with a 2-1 victory.
“When the clock hit zero everyone rushed to our goalie with tears in our eyes and smiles on everyone’s faces,” said Ireland. “We were the first team to win in the South division. Prior, our head coach had legal issues and had to return to New York three weeks before playoffs. The owner of the Brahmas organization called one of his buddies from New York to come coach us. We had to learn new systems and change everything the way he wanted us to play. In this time period he made us the best team in the South and even in the whole league.”
Next, Ireland is set to play for Northern Arizona University this upcoming academic year.
“The team has a D2 and a D3 team,” he said. “I fully expect to be contributing to the successes on the D2 team. I was invited for a camp when last season ended and the team looked really solid and I can’t wait to help out the team.
“These past two years helped me mature both personally and in hockey. Not sure, but maybe there’s an opportunity to continue playing hockey; there’s a bunch of pro leagues in Europe that might be an option. Or, just hang up the skates and focus on my career. I could always play in the NHL (Night Hockey League) and still have a blast.”