The adjustment from high school hockey has been a smooth one for Albany native Courtney Burke.
Burke is having an outstanding freshman season for the Wisconsin Badgers. The 18-year-old is the Badgers’ third-leading scorer with four goals and 19 assists.
“She’s done very well,” Badgers coach Mark Johnson said. “She’s adapted to college life, and has certainly done well for us on the ice. We’re very happy with her progress, and she has a bright future ahead of her.”
Burke would have gone to Holy Names, had she attended high school in the Capital Region. But since Holy Names doesn’t offer hockey, Burke moved to Minnesota and attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s, one of the top high school hockey programs in the state.
Burke credits former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward and Union men’s assistant coach Ben Barr with talking her into going to Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Barr, an alumnus of the school, was the head coach of the Capital District Select AAA PeeWee major hockey team from 2005-07, and Burke was on the squad.
“He told me I should take a look it, since I couldn’t play boys’ hockey the rest of my life,” Burke said. “He said they have an awesome girls’ program out there. So, I went out there and looked at it.”
Burke played in 147 career games and had 66 goals and 164 assists. In her senior season, she had 21 goals and 55 assists in 53 games.
Her play caught the attention of the Wisconsin coach staff. It helped that current Badgers assistant coach Dan Koch was Burke’s head coach at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
“He knew her very well,” Johnson said. “As you watched her the last couple of years and watched her develop, you knew she was going to come in and help your team win hockey games.”
In WCHA play, Burke has three goals and 14 assists. Her 17 points are eighth most among defenseman, and she is fourth in freshmen scoring.
“I didn’t think I’d be getting as much playing time as a freshman,” Burke said. “I was surprised.”
Burke has also made her mark on the international stage. She played on three USA Women’s under-18 teams. She earned a gold medal in 2011, and silvers in 2010 and 2012.
Playing against international competition made it easy for Burke to handle the college game.
“I knew what to expect coming in,” Burke said.
The sixth-ranked Badgers (21-9-2) begin the WCHA tournament best-of-three quarterfinals tonight when they host St. Cloud State.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute freshman Jason Kasdorf was named ECAC Hockey goalie and rookie of the month late Wednesday night.
Kasdorf led the Engineers to a 7-1 record in February. He allowed two or fewer goals six times, and posted two shutouts. Kasdorf had a 1.48 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
PONTARELLI NETS 50TH
Michael Pontarelli may not be coming to Union College until 2014. But when the Cornwall Colts forward does arrive, he is going to bring some offensive power.
Pontarelli scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday, powering the Colts to an 8-1 Central Canadian Hockey League win over the Keptville 73s.
Pontarelli, who had two goals and three assists, leads the CCHL in scoring with 50 goals and 49 assists in 50 games. He scored his 50th goal with 9:15 left in the game.
Barring an epic collapse in the final two games of the regular season this weekend, RPI will finish ahead of Union in the ECAC Hockey standings for just the second time under head coach Seth Appert. The only other time was in 2006-07, Appert’s first season. That year, the Engineers finished in a three-way tie for eighth with Colgate and Yale (RPI was the No. 9 seed for the ECACH tournament), and the Dutchmen finished in last place, two points out of eighth.
Since the 2002-03 season, Union has finished ahead of RPI seven times. The teams finished tied for sixth in 2005-06. The Dutchmen were the sixth seed for the ECACH tournament, and the Engineers seventh.
FIRST FOR HARVARD
Harvard could, most likely, make history this weekend. It’s not the kind of history the Crimson wanted to make.
For the first time in the 52 years of the ECACH, the Crimson could finish in last place. They trail 11th-place Colgate by three points.
The lowest Harvard has ever finished in the standings was in 2010-11, when it wound up 10th.
Four is magical
If you’re old enough to remember the Saturday morning “Schoolhouse Rock” segments, there was a song about three being a magic number.
Last Friday, the magic number around ECACH was four.
The six winning teams from that night’s games all finished with four goals. Four of the games ended 4-1 — Cornell over RPI, Colgate over Union, Brown over Princeton and Quinnipiac over Yale. The other scores were Clarkson 4, Dartmouth 0; and St. Lawrence 4, Harvard 2.
GOING OUT IN STYLE
Penn State completed its inaugural Division I hockey season in style Monday night against future Big Ten hockey conference foe Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.
After dropping a 5-0 decision to the Badgers Sunday night, the Nittany Lions rallied from a 2-0 deficit Monday to stun the 16th-ranked team in the country, 3-2, in overtime.
Seven seconds after Joseph LaBate gave the Badgers a 2-0 lead at 6:41 of the third period, Taylor Holstrom scored for the Nittany Lions. Penn State tied it less than 51⁄2 minutes later on Casey Bailey’s power-play goal.
With 34 seconds left in overtime, Holstrom scored the game-winner.
“It was a big win,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said in his postgame press conference. “This is our playoff. This is our final exam.”
Penn State goalie Matthew Skoff, who was outstanding in the two-game series with Union in November, made 42 saves.
Penn State, which played as an independent this season, closes out the season 13-14. The Nittany Lions, along with the Badgers, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State, begins Big Ten conference play next season.