BURLINGTON — Ryan O’Halloran wrapped up his four-year high school hockey career with a spectacular senior season leading his Red Devils to the Super 8 tournament.
His 35-point senior season (16 goals and 19 assists) has earned him the honor of being selected the Daily Times Chronicle boys hockey “Player of the Year.”
“It is quite an honor to receive this award from a group of so many talented players,” said O’Halloran. “I can’t thank those who helped me along the way enough from my family to my coaches to my teammates.”
O’Halloran (5-11, 160) burst on the high school hockey season as a 14-year-old freshman notching 17 points in 23 games while playing as a top-six forward, something not very typical in the Burlington system for a freshman.
“There are not many players who can make an impact at the forward position as a freshman like he did,” said Burlington coach Bob Conceison. We had kids like Josh Boulos and Shane (O’Halloran) who made impacts as freshman as defensemen but it’s really hard to do that as a forward and he stepped in and did it right away for us.”
The numbers ticked upward in his sophomore season when he became a point per game player. He tallied 27 points in 24 games helping the Devils to a Super 8 bid and starting to turn heads with his offensive skill.
“I think his speed is the part of his game that benefits him most,” said Conceison. “He is a threat whenever he has the puck because of his speed. While other players want to slow the game down, he likes to speed the game up and he has to be accounted for at all times.”
O’Halloran was named an assistant captain entering his junior season on a senior laden team. The honor spoke of his leadership qualities.
Perhaps scoring a point per game wasn’t enough in his eyes so O’Halloran doubled that number his junior year collecting a whopping 46 points in just 23 games and starting to gain the attention of local prep schools.
He was a difference maker on the football field where he was an All-Conference wide receiver. But, he passed up his senior season on the gridiron to focus on hockey and while the temptation was there for O’Halloran to pursue his game at the next level, his passion for Burlington and other factors kept him around.
“I had the opportunity to visit the prep schools for hockey, but it just wasn’t my scene,” said O’Halloran. “I liked playing for my town. I have been part of Burlington hockey and that was something I wanted to see through.”
While the connection to his town played part in his decision, his connection to his family may have been the ultimate decision point.
Ryan’s oldest brother Shane was a four-year player for BHS hockey and a captain of the 2016 team. Brother Patrick was a three-year player, a captain of the 2017 team, and that year’s DTC boys hockey “Player of the Year.” Even his uncle Dave Laghetto, his mother Denise’s brother, played for Burlington High as a goalie back in the 1980s.
“I didn’t miss a game of theirs growing up and I got to play with Patrick when I was a freshman,” said O’Halloran. “I wanted to finish our legacy here at Burlington.”
Having coached all three brothers, no one had a better barometer on the pulse of the family than Burlington coach Conceison.
“They are a unique family in the sense that they were all multiple-sport athletes who were extremely talented,” said Conceison. “They were three different kids and were different in their own ways, but they were all driven by their intensity in sports and by the importance of team and community.”
O’Halloran led his team to a Super 8 play-in game this year and it was no surprise that in the waning moments of that game in a tie game, he tapped a face-off win through the legs of the Hingham center and slid a pass to Jack Jay who tapped in the game winning goal.
While the season ended on back to back losses (to B.C. High and Catholic Memorial) in the tournament, the future remains bright for O’Halloran.
“The goal is to play college hockey at some point, so I am exploring some options with a few juniors teams,” said O’Halloran when asked about his future. “The goal is to try and play Division 1 hockey until someone says you can’t. I am interested in playing Division 3 too. We will see where this goes.”
While the future remains uncertain for O’Halloran, who is still just 17, his high school hockey career is behind him. It was one in which he amassed 45 goals and 80 assists while carrying a +46 career plus/minus rating.
More importantly for him, he leaves behind his legacy and passion for Burlington and for family.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jonathan Surrette, Woburn High, junior; Michael Martignetti, Winchester High, senior; Dylan Emery, Reading High, senior; Joe Trabucco, Burlington High, junior.