The entire organization would like to thank four-year defenceman, and 2020-21 captain Curtis Ireland for all of his contributions to the Pistons over the past four years.
Ireland was drafted into the Pistons organization during the 4th round of the 2015 MJHL Bantam Draft, when he suited up for the Brandon Wheat Kings AAA Bantam program. He joined the defence corp of Steinbach during the 2017-18 season, and was the last remaining member of the Pistons’ ANAVET Cup championship team from 2018.
During 33 games in his rookie season, the Brandon native posted a goal and five assists as he learned the MJHL game. He skated in five playoff games and Game #4 of the ANAVET Cup, picking up an assist as Steinbach won both the Turnbull Cup and the Manitoba-Saskatchewan regional title.
His second MJHL season saw him grow to become a regular on the Pistons blue line. He was right away named the league’s defenceman of the month in September 2018 and was selected to play at the 2019 MJHL/SJHL Showcase in Regina. Overall, he posted 2 goals and 20 points over 46 games played and registered 2 assists in the 2019 playoffs.
The 2019-20 season was another step forward for Ireland. He played a career-high 54 games and registered 3 goals and 23 points during the year and was named to the MJHL/SJHL Showcase for a second straight year. Playing on a pairing with Christian Riemer, those two would become the team’s shutdown unit throughout the season, locking down the Winnipeg Blues’ top scorers during the 2020 MJHL playoffs.
Unfortunately, Ireland never got a chance to see the ice as the captain of the Pistons in 2020-21. A day after he was given the ‘C’ from his teammates and coaches, he suffered a broken leg in practice and missed the entire seven game run this season.
Ireland was also a huge part of the Pistons’ volunteering initiative throughout Southeast Manitoba, whether it was raking leaves, reading to students during I Love to Read Month, or helping pack food hampers for the community with Southeast Helping Hands. Away from the rink this season, Ireland also assisted Athletic Therapist Jeff Eidse and helped sharpen skates for all of his teammates and was there to lend some advice to the younger players all year long.
“Curty’s year did not play out exactly the way he scripted it,“ Dyck said of his captain. “He was very respected and like in our room, as he is a young man with great character who does things the right way every day. After coming in as a 17-year-old, we watched him develop into an extremely solid defenceman who played in all situations for us.
“He is the last of the players who were on the 2018 ANAVET Cup championship team,” he continued. “He was one of the guys who drove our culture, and so his departure definitely leaves a void in our leadership group.”
Thank you, Curtis, for everything! We wish you and your family all the best as you move on from the Pistons!