One of my best friends came here the year before me, and then Coach (Dean) Fuller ended up giving me a call and invited me to check it out. I met the team and loved the campus.
Even before he put on his first pair of skates, Brian McGrath ‘22 was very familiar with the hockey rink. He used to watch his father and older brother play, and looked forward to getting on the ice from a young age. He started off as a defender, but the team he was trying out for needed a goalie. He was, he recalls, about 6 years old.
“That first year, I was just having fun with it, and the coaches started coming up to me after games,” he said, recalling his first realization that he had real talent in the net.
McGrath, who grew up in Worcester, kept cultivating that talent through youth hockey and high school programs. After graduating from high school he played with the Boston Junior Bruins while he looked for college programs. He liked Fitchburg State from his first glimpses.
“One of my best friends came here the year before me, and then Coach (Dean) Fuller ended up giving me a call and invited me to check it out,” McGrath said. “I met the team and loved the campus.”
It was a good fit for McGrath, who started his time in the Falcons’ net with an impressive season that culminated in reaching the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship in a game played at the Wallace Civic Center.
“I remember skating out for that game and feeling the chills,” he said. McGrath was in net when the Falcons won the championship.
Though hockey is a team sport, there is a singular responsibility for the goal-keeper.
“I love the pressure,” McGrath said. “You have the chance to win games, and you have the chance to lose games. It’s definitely a lot of ups and downs. Being on a winning streak makes you happy, but when you lose you just want to work harder.”
McGrath is willing to work hard, dedicated to his teammates who also put in long hours of practice even in the off-season. It also means balancing time for schoolwork, which in McGrath’s case includes trying to finish his homework before hitting the ice for his frequent practices. “Hockey takes a lot of time, but it’s my passion,” he said.
His passion paid off for the Falcons, where McGrath’s records include being the all-time leader in saves for the team, even before the playoffs began.
Hockey has been a source of pride and personal growth for McGrath, who credits his time on the team for broadening his horizons. “I probably know someone from every state in the country through hockey,” he said, and he’s also played with Falcons from Russian, Switzerland and Sweden during his time at Fitchburg State.
With his final season concluded, McGrath looks forward to putting his business administration degree to work, and knows hockey will still be part of his future, whether playing or as a coach for young players.