WATERFORD, MI – This time a year ago, Tommy Burns thought his hockey career was over after a bout with mononucleosis shelved him for the entire 2009-2010 season.
After a summer filled with workouts and skating, Burns earned a spot up front with the Metro Jets and after a solid season in 2010-2011, will skate for Lindenwood University in suburban St. Louis this fall.
Burns becomes the second Jets player this offseason to commit to play college hockey after Justin Bennett, who will play for Concordia University this fall.
“A little over halfway through the season, Lindenwood contracted (Metro head coach) Jason (Cirone) telling him that they were interested in me,” said Burns, a 20-year-old native of Pinckney, Mich. “From that point on, I was in contact with them and after the season, I went to meet the coaches and check out the school.”
Lindenwood is coached by former NHL defenseman Rick Zombo and the Lions play in Division I of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
“From visiting the school, I found out quite a bit of information,” explained Burns. “They offer a lot of different majors, which is good because I still have not decided what I want to major in. The campus was also very nice out there and all my classes are a close distance from each other. As for the hockey program, it looks like they have a great coaching staff and a very skilled and disciplined team as they have won two national championships in the last three years.”
Last season with the Jets, Burns finished fourth in team scoring with 16 goals and 33 points in 42 games and led the team with nine power-play goals and four game-winning goals. He started the year with the Flint Jr. Generals, playing one game before being acquired by Metro.
“Playing for the Jets helped me more then anything,” said Burns. “If I would not have played for the Jets, I would not be answering these questions right now.”
He also said the level of play in the North American 3 Hockey League was better than expected.
“Being that last year was my first and only year in the league, I felt it was very competitive,” Burns said. “I feel like the league will continue to keep moving more players on to where they want to go as long as they are dedicated.”
Looking ahead to Lindenwood, Burns is anxious to get his college career underway.
“My goal for hockey this year is to come onto the team and become an impact player fast,” Burns said. “I know that there is going to be a jump in the level of play from last year, but with hard work I know I will be able to make that adjustment quickly. I hope that I will have a role that can help them to another national championship. As for school, I would like to maintain a high GPA and figure out what I would like to major in.”
Photos by Andy Grossman/Detailed Images