The senior-heavy group that makes up the boys hockey team have a history of winning and a history of playing together.
Many of the players won youth hockey titles together and have been part of the Milton baseball program.
The team’s camaraderie, especially off the ice, will guide the Wildcats in what seventh-year head coach Paul Noonan believes is Milton High School’s first appearance in the boys hockey state championship game.
“They’re friends first and teammates second,” said Noonan.
Milton High secured a spot in the title game, which will be at 8:15 p.m., Sunday, March 18, at the TD Garden, with a solid 3-1 victory over Natick in the Division 1 South championship.
Their opponents from Burlington High earned their spot in the final with a 4-2 win in the Division 1 North championship on Monday over Wakefield.
Noonan and his Wildcats had the benefit of scouting their championship game opponents on Monday. The coach noted that the Red Devils move well offensively and push the puck forward from the defensive zone.
“We have to be at our best,” Noonan said. “Any lazy shifts will cost us.”
The Wildcats came into the South tournament as a second seed with a 16-3-3 record and picked off their opponents throughout the postseason. This group is Noonan’s first team at Milton to register more than one tournament victory.
Milton High has been led offensively by one of the highest scoring lines in the state with seniors Paul Curran, Brian Higgins and Terrance Walsh.
In the net, Milton has received consistent play from senior Jay Hankard.
The team has benefited from a deep pool of hockey-minded players, according to Noonan.
“We have a lot of skill players,” Noonan said. “A lot of hockey kids.”
As the Wildcats prepare to play in their school’s most important hockey game in the most famous rink in Massachusetts, Noonan and his players have been able to enjoy the excitement.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook with calls and texts,” Noonan said. “It’s been fun.”
The players have also received well wishes from classmates and people all around Milton.
“The school has been really supportive. So has the town,” said Noonan.
Like the rest of the tournament, the Milton Boosters will provide transportation to and from the Garden on Sunday night. The buses will leave at 7:30 p.m. from Milton High.
The bus is free for booster members and their students. Non-members can ride the fan bus for $5. Signups can be done at Milton High during lunch or at the pep rally. Online registration is available at miltonboosters.com.
If you can’t make it to the game, tune in to Milton Patch. We will be live blogging the game from the TD Garden.