BOSTON -- Few high school hockey players get to experience what Groton-Dunstable senior defenseman Connor Maguire did last Monday night in Boston. So few that only 34 Massachusetts High School seniors were invited as special guests to watch the Boston Bruins defeat the Minnesota Wild.
Maguire was on hand because he was selected by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as the Roy Conference representative to receive the Boston Bruins MIAA Ice Hockey Sportsmanship award. Maguire, who was a captain this winter for the Crusaders, was blown away by the manner in which the Bruins treated their young guests.
Last Monday not only served as a way to recognize the true sportsmen of MIAA Ice Hockey, it was a mini reunion for Maguire, who happened to run into one of his old teammates from youth hockey.
"It was an awesome night," Maguire said. "I was honored to be there. One of the guys that I played hockey with as a kid for seven or eight years on the same team -- he also got the award that night. Corey Webber played for Central Catholic and got the same award as me. It was awesome to be part of that with him."
When Maguire and the other award recipients arrived they were ushered into a banquet room where they were treated to a pregame meal, which was followed by a speech by the MIAA president and Boston Bruins owner and former star center, Cam Neely.
"Cam Neely came in, and we got to take pictures with him," Maguire said. "That was cool. Neely was brief because he had a busy pregame, but he said that he had a deep respect and understanding for the mentality of sportsmanship. He offered his congratulations to all of us on getting the award. It was a big honor to meet him. Everyone was pretty excited when he came in."
The Boston Bruins brought their guests down to ice level to observe shoot-around prior to the game. When the game started, Maguire and the rest of the award recipients were taken to their seats behind the Bruins' bench.
At the conclusion of the first period, Maguire and the other seniors were brought down to the ice where they were introduced one-by-one over the TD Garden's public address system to a roaring ovation from the capacity crowd.
"During the first intermission they led us out to the ice and read our names off," the Dunstable native said. "Our names were put up on the Jumbotron, which was cool. The crowd's reaction was awesome especially with something as big as the Garden, it was pretty cool."
There was one last gift for the Sportsmanship Award winners, and it came via a 4-1 win for the Boston Bruins -- a fitting end to a special night.
"I am just honored to be part of something like that," he said. "To be considered as a recipient for the award was a huge honor. I think (the award) speaks volumes about the importance of parents -- the parents that I've met and players I have played with. It was awesome to be a part of this with Corey Webber. It speaks volumes to the coaches we have had."