Boston Bruins hockey star Shaun Thornton is currently exploring his Irish roots in Northern Ireland.

Thornton’s mother emigrated from Belfast when she was a child. The hockey star bought his mother a plane ticket to Belfast to watch him play against the Belfast Giants on Saturday. During the trip she plans to reconnect with family. "She left when she was really young," Thornton said. "I've heard a couple stories from grandparents, but I have a lot to learn," he told Thursday.

On Saturday Thornton will participate in the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere challenge exhibition against the Belfast Giant Selects at Odyssey Arena here. Thornton admitted to that he is really looking forward to playing in front of his family members and friends in his mothers home town.

Talking about his trip he said "I'm looking forward to having a Guinness and grabbing a pint in a pub somewhere."

Despite the excitement of visiting his ancestor’s home the Canadian born sportsman remains focused on the job at hand.

"We're not here on a vacation," Thornton said. "Obviously, it is nice for me getting back, but we have a job at hand. We have to get ready for next week's games in Prague and we need to take steps in that direction," he said.