The No. 1-ranked Miami of Ohio team lost part of its family last weekend, as student manager Brendan Burke, son of Minnesota native Brian Burke, general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s team and the Toronto Maple Leafs, died along with a passanger in a car accident in Indiana. Here is a story from Sunday’s Oxford (Ohio) Press:
By Rick Cassano, Oxford Press Staff Writer
OXFORD, Ohio — Miami University’s hockey players hit the ice with heavy hearts Saturday night.
Stunned by the death of student manager Brendan Burke a day earlier, the top-ranked RedHawks channeled their emotions into a 10-4 pounding of Lake Superior State at Steve Cady Arena.
“There’s really no words to describe the emotions,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “All the boys just really wanted to do this for Brendan. I think it shows the kind of person he was, what he meant to us.
“It was a difficult 24 hours for everybody,” he continued. “I think we all know in the locker room that he was with us tonight.”
Burke, 21, was headed back to Oxford for Friday night’s game when he and a passenger were killed in a car crash in Indiana. Blasi got the news during Friday’s game and told the team afterward.
Burke is the son of Brian Burke, general manager of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
“Brendan was more than a student manager,” Miami assistant athletic director Josh Fenton said. “The guys in the locker room considered him basically a teammate. They were really, really close to him.
“Brendan had such an infectious personality,” he added. “When he walked into the room, it was a big smile. Everybody loved him. Everybody gravitated towards him.”
Burke made national headlines in November when he went public via ESPN.com that he was gay and how the revelation brought him even closer to his father.
“The reaction was all positive,” Fenton said. “That’s the type of person he was.”
Burke was set to graduate from Miami in May and planned to attend law school. His hockey duties included video breakdown and compilation of goalie statistics.
“Not unlike the Burke family, he had an eye for the game,” Blasi said. “He knew exactly what he was watching. He could pick out things that we as coaches or as a staff needed to get ready for the next weekend.”
RedHawks junior captain Tommy Wingels fought back tears as he spoke about Burke after Saturday’s game. The players placed “BB” stickers on their helmets Saturday, and jersey patches honoring Burke will be added to their uniforms next weekend.
“I tried to stay focused, but everything going through your head is about Brendan,” Wingels said. “Not one guy is going to get through it himself. It’s 27 guys and the coaching staff. I’m just so thankful to have them.”
Burke’s funeral will be Tuesday in Canton, Mass. Blasi said the team will attend.
“We want to be there to support the family because Brendan meant so much to us,” Fenton said. “We think it’s important to be there.”