It wasn’t a player recalled from the American Hockey League or a goalie acquired through a trade. It was Goaltending Coach Sean Burke’s son, Brendan, who plays for the PF Chang’s Under-16 team.
The coaching staff decided to give goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov a day off from practice. To fill that void, Brendan Burke laced up the skates and faced shots from NHL players for about an hour.
“For him it’s obviously a huge thrill and a great opportunity,” Sean Burke said. “He’s 15, he’s been drafted by Portland of the Western (Hockey) League and he’ll probably end up going there next year, but to have this advantage, to come out with these guys, it’s a huge thrill... He gets a chance to come out and compete. It should help him in the long run.”
Sean Burke said he doesn’t push his son when it comes to goaltending because Brendan already is a student of the game.
“We talk all the time, but he’s so into the game,” Burke said. “He watches Bryz (Ilya Bryzgalov), he watches Barbs (Jason LaBarbera
) and he’ll ask me tons of questions, so I’m hands on to a point. But I can honestly say I’m not overly demanding with him. I think he’s got to find his own way. I’m there to help him, give him some advice and tools.”
Brendan, who has a similar goaltending technique to his father, said he felt fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in an NHL practice.
|Brendan Burke tends goal during at Friday's practice at Jobing.com Arena. |
“You get to come out here with NHL players. No 15-year-old gets to do that, so it’s a lot of fun,” Brendan said. “You don’t see those shots from anybody our age, so you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Surprisingly, Brendan did not feel intimidated when he stepped onto the ice with the Coyotes.
“I’m not nervous,” Brendan said. “They’re all really nice to me and they like to joke around. I take it seriously, but it’s just a lot of fun.”
Brendan is home schooled so he did not miss any school to play goalie at Friday’s practice.
“Home schooling allows the kids to work at their own pace and not miss days,” Sean Burke said. “So a day like today, Friday, he doesn’t go to school today. So it’s nice, he can come out here and do this.”
Like any young hockey player, Brendan has dreams of playing in the NHL one day, but his immediate goals are to work hard at schoolwork and continue to develop as a hockey player.
“Everyone wants to play in the NHL when they’re young, but you just want to play at the highest level you can,” Brendan said. “Hopefully I can make the WHL team next year, which would be a big thing, and go from there.”