By Matthew Dunn, Contributing Writer
Grafton – A familiar road leads North Grafton native Ian Milosz to the DCU Center in Worcester. He’s been down this path to watch the Worcester Ice Cats and Worcester Sharks hockey games as kid, played at the DCU center in NCAA regional tournaments – and now, Milosz makes his way to the DCU center as a professional goaltender for the Worcester Railers.
Milosz, 24, played three years of hockey for North Grafton High School before making his way to the junior leagues and Boston College. Now a member of the Worcester Railers, Milosz has stayed close to his hometown.
“Being from a small town is nice. I am really close with my family and have a close group of friends,” Milosz said. “Overall I enjoyed growing up here a lot.”
It was the same close-knit family – especially his father Donald – that inspired his interest in the game. An old picture of his father dressed in antiquated goalie equipment from one of his pickup games on Lake Quinsigamond sparked Milosz’s interest in the position – the pads, the mask, the oversized hockey stick. Milosz knew he wanted to be a goaltender.
“I would always ask every other week – ‘Can I play goalie? Can I play goalie?’ And eventually I just kind of became the guy,” Milosz remembered, describing his start in net at a young age in a league where players regularly rotated positions.
Donald only played recreationally, and recently retired after 35 years with the Shrewsbury Fire Department, but Milosz credits his father’s hobby as the start of his love for the game.
“Something just made me want to be like him – one of the most important people in my life,” he said.
Rising through the ranks of hockey, Milosz has prepared for many “big games.” Likely the biggest was his first professional start, an experience that would test even the most accomplished athlete’s nerves.
“It was pretty overwhelming…the day before I was a little nervous, but once I got to the rink with the guys it went away,” he recalled.
Family and friends watched from above as he recorded a 31-save win – his first as a professional.
“It’s kind of everything coming full-circle, being able to start my pro career there,” Milosz said. “It was awesome because my family has been really supportive throughout my entire hockey career. Them being close was a huge thing to come watch games. That definitely helped my decision to stay close. It’s always nice to see them.”
The 24-year-old goaltender still has more to prove in his hockey career and, like all professional players, would love an opportunity to play in the NHL.
“Reaching the NHL is always still the goal, but I try to be realistic….and I can definitely see myself playing in the American League on a regular basis.”
Rosters in professional sports are constantly changing, but Milosz is clearly enjoying these moments as a member of the Worcester Railers and home games truly played at home.
Photos/courtesy Worcester Railers