Coming off a record-setting season in net for the North American Hockey League's (NAHL) Bismarck Bobcatsin 2011-12, Bobcat goaltender Tommy Burke has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey in 2012-13 at Bowling Green State University.
“It’s exciting to make my commitment and have my plans set,” explained Burke, who set a single-season Bobcats franchise record in 2011-12 for wins with 31. “I’m happy to be able to make that next step but I can’t be too satisfied with it—I know that there’s a lot of work ahead of me to be able to make the jump to the college game.”
Burke spent two years in black and gold under head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who marveled at the progress that the Chaska, Minn., native made along his journey to collegiate hockey.
“It’s a pretty great story,” noted Sedevie, a former D-I goalie himself at Bemidji State from 2004-2007, “Tommy came to us last year and didn’t get a lot of playing time. This year he earned his number one spot with hard offseason work and 31 wins and a Central Division championship later, he’s got plans to play Division I hockey.”
Sedevie knows that Burke’s personality and work ethic will help him thrive at the next level.
“Tommy is such a student of the game. He spent a year learning under a great mentor in [Bocbat alum] Ryan Faragher (St. Cloud State, WCHA). He puts in the time to research guys to be able to read situations, and he puts in the time in the film room and in the gym to push himself to be the best goalie possible. More than anything else, though, is that when we needed a big save, Tommy Burke was there to make it. That’s an intangible that you’ve got to have if you’re going to play D-I.”
Burke’s college decision comes on the heels of a whirlwind week that started last Monday in Frisco, Texas, with stops in Bismarck and Chaska and ended up in Bowling Green—some 2,400 miles later—for his official on-campus visit before finally committing Monday. Earlier this season, Burke played the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament as a part of team Central in Troy, Michigan.
It was an emotional roller coaster for the second-year veteran.
“When we lost out of the Robertson Cup, it was a tough thing to swallow and a lot of the guys took it pretty hard,” recalled Burke. “We thought we deserved better, but on the other side I couldn’t dwell on it for too long because I knew I had a huge visit coming up that Friday. When I did get to campus I got to meet a lot of the current players and see the facilities and see what the program was all about, which was all really impressive.”
The Falcons, charter members of the historic Central Collegiate Hockey Association, will play one final season in the CCHA before joining the WCHA in 2013 as a part of college hockey’s massive conference realignment that is planned to follow 2012-13 season. BGSU won the NCAA title for hockey in 1984, has taken down a combined 12 regular season and playoff CCHA titles and appeared in nine NCAA tournaments. The Falcons are currently coached by Chris Bergeron.
Bergeron and his staff were a key component in attracting Burke to northwest Ohio.
“I got to meet with all three coaches [Bergeron and assistants Barry Schutte and Ty Eigner] and I knew it would be a great fit as soon as I started talking with them,” continued Burke. “Their staff has a great personal focus on their players and everything they said in our meeting really hit a good note with me.”
Burke is the second 2011-12 Bobcat to secure his collegiate plans, along with assistant captain Castan Sommer, who is committed to Holy Cross (Atlantic Hockey).