Tommy Burns has been in this situation before.
As a 20-year-old playing for the Metro Jets, Burns is fast approaching the end of his junior hockey eligibility.
Two years ago after playing for Pinckney (Mich.) High School, Burns came down with mononucleosis and was forced to take a year off of hockey.
Was that the end of his hockey career? Nope. And he hopes to still be playing the sport he loves this time next season.
“It killed me thinking that that could have been my last year playing competitively,” said Burns. “Before the start of this season, I decided I was going to lace back up the skates in hopes of continuing my hockey career, which I am doing right now. I hope to continue next year playing for a university.”
This year with the Jets, Burns is among the team’s top scorers with nine goals and 20 points in 19 games in Waterford. He started the season in Flint and after one game with the Jr. Generals was acquired by the Jets.
“We had known about Burnsy for a few years and knew he had a decent scoring touch,” Metro GM Butch Wolfe said. “He’s been playing well on a line with Brett Grech and it’s my hope we’ll be seeing both of them move on to the next level next year.”
“All throughout my hockey career I've always been a leader in the points colum,” noted Burns. “I love scoring goals, but making a nice play to get an assist is also a huge part of my game.
”When I came to the Jets after the start of the season, I was a little nervious and I moved through a few lines, but when I got paired up with Grech, there was instent chemistry. I have never been so in sync with a linemate like him. It seems like no matter where we are on the ice, we can find each other.”
And while Metro is currently looking to battle out of a losing skid, Burns feels a little offense from him, as well as others, can help end the slump.
”We have great chemisty as a team and I feel we are about to break through this slump at anytime now,” Burns explained. “As long as we start playing our game and believing in the system, we will turn our record right around.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
The Jets took a single point last weekend with an overtime loss and a regulation loss at Lakeland Arena to the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins.
Saturday night, Charles Williams' goal 48 seconds into the extra session won it for Pittsburgh, 3-2, after Dan Hudson (Gregory, Mich.) had tied the game at 2-all 16:53 into the second period.
Matt Elswick (Gaylord, Mich.) scored the first goal for the Jets (also his first of the season), while Eric Trunick (Commerce Township, Mich.) made 32 saves in goal.
Sunday afternoon, Matt Stemkoski (Novi, Mich.), acquired last week from Toledo, scored his first goal in a Metro uniform in an 11-3 defeat.
Matt Stirling (Dexter, Mich.) and Tommy Kilgore (Pinckney, Mich.) added the other goals for the Jets, Mike Moroso (Macomb, Mich.) tacked on a pair of assists and Trunick finished with 33 stops.
Then Wednesday night in Flint, the Jets suffered a 6-2 defeat to the Jr. Generals.
Elswick and Burns tallied for Metro and Matt Braun (Ramsey, N.J.) made 44 saves. Newcomer Jake Schlacht (Allen Park, Mich.) assisted on both goals from the blue line in his Jets’ debut after signing with the team earlier this week.
Metro (7-13-1-0) plays at home next Sunday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. against Toledo.
Schlacht started the season in the NAHL with Port Huron, going pointless in two games with 11 penalty minutes, before signing with Toledo where he had four assists and 45 penalty minutes in 12 games with the Cherokee. The 19-year-old Schlacht was released by Toledo last Thursday.
The Jets also acquired defenseman Jordan Jones (Toledo, Ohio) from the Cherokee on Tuesday. Jones had two assists in nine games with Toledo this season and also made his Jets debut Wednesday night in Flint.
In other transactions, defenseman Brian O’Loughlin (Franklin, Tenn.) was released Sunday and goalie Rick Ice (Sterling Heights, Mich.) was released Tuesday. O’Loughlin had one goal in 12 games with the Jets, while Ice did not see any game action for Metro.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Ex-Jets defenseman Ian Cosgrove (2006-2007) is now in his sophomore season at Division III Fredonia State University and has two assists in eight games thus far for the Blue Devils.
Cosgrove appeared in 13 regular season games for the Jets in ’06-07, amassing eight points on three goals and five assists. He also went pointless in the Jets' two playoff games that spring.
In 2008-2009, the Rochester, Mich., native recorded five goals and 18 assists for 23 points with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.