What a long strange road it’s been, is more than just a high school grad quote for Brendan Burke.
The 20-year-old goaltender started his season with the Calgary Hitmen, but a glut of overage players made him expendable there. He was claimed off of waivers by the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.
But the Storm also had a surplus of overage goaltenders, so they swapped Burke for a sixth round draft pick from the London Knights.
“It’s come full circle,” said Burke, a sixth round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes. “It’s kind of nice to end my junior career in what’s considered one of my homes.”
His mother and grandmother are from Red Deer and he’s a regular at the Sylvan Lake family cabin.
“They were here last night and it’s always fun when they get to see me play,” said Burke. “I haven’t played a lot, but they really enjoy it.”
The son of NHL goaltender Sean Burke even got into a game Monday night. He’s backed up Knights starting goaltender Tyler Parsons for much of the season, but with the game well in hand Knights president and head coach Dale Hunter put the almost-hometown kid out on the ice in the third period.
“It was nice to see a little action,” said Burke. “In a 9-1 game you don’t expect the guys to be blocking shots. The guys played hard for me and it was a nice way to finish the game.”
He even pitched a shutout.
“Burke’s been a good soldier for us all year battling and going in to some games and he’s played very well for us,” said Hunter. “He was very good (Monday) night and made some big saves. It’s a credit to him to go in cold and face the hard shot he did from (Provorov). It’s a credit to him, I’m so happy for him that he could get into the game.”
Calgary wasn’t even his first stop on his junior career. He played three-and-a-half seasons with the Portland Winterhawks before he was traded to the Calgary Hitmen during the 2014-15 season.
It’s also his second appearance in the MasterCard Memorial Cup, having made it in 2013 as a member of the Winterhawks.
The Winterhawks lost in the final that year to the Halifax Mooseheads 6-4.