Men’s hockey’s leading scorer gets NHL deal

Senior hockey forward Brayden Irwin has signed a two-year contract to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League.

He has joined the team for their final six games of the 2009-10 season but will return to the University after the season to tend to his academics and graduate this spring.

Irwin, a 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound forward was grateful for the opportunity to spend four years playing for the Catamounts.

“I want to thank the coaching staff and everyone involved with the team for the opportunity and all their help,” Irwin said. “I have learned a lot and I have really grown as a player and a person.”

Irwin’s career at Vermont was extensive. He was named to the 2006-07 Hockey East All Rookie Team, as well as the All Academic team.

In his four years at Vermont, Irwin posted 38 goals and 44 assists for a total of 82 points.

Irwin acknowledged that he could not have accomplished so much alone.

“I also want to thank my teammates,” Irwin said. “I’ve been able to play on four great teams and couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to do it with.”

The star forward will be returning to his hometown of Toronto to begin his professional career.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to sign with a NHL team in my home city and look forward to working towards my goal of playing professional hockey,” Irwin said.

As exciting as it may be, Catamount fans will be sad to see Irwin go.

Head coach Kevin Sneddon knows this feeling well, having coached him for four years, but said he is happy to see Irwin off to a bright future.

“I could not be happier for Brayden and his family,” Sneddon said. “We wish Brayden much success as he embarks on his professional career with the Maple Leafs. We thank him for his contributions to our hockey program and community during the past four years.”

Irwin made his NHL debut on April 1, playing for 10 minutes and 23 seconds and attempting one shot on goal.

He became the ninth Catamount to skate in the NHL and will be playing alongside former teammate Viktor Stalberg (’09) in Toronto.