Cameron Burt had hoped he would have been playing college hockey in Detroit all along and not just this weekend for the Rochester Institute of Technology at the Frozen Four.
Just after the 2006-2007 season concluded, Burt committed to Wayne State, but when the Warriors announced they were folding at the end of the next season, Burt shied away from going to WSU and instead went and played his final year of juniors with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.
That season, he chose RIT as his college destination.
Two years later and he's the Tigers' leading scorer heading into their semifinal game at 5:00 p.m. against Wisconsin.
“I’ve had to deal with the game and people bugging me for tickets has been tough, but I’m here to play hockey, I’m not here to socialize," Burt said this week. "I’m glad that my family and friends get to come out and watch me play, but I’m really looking at the big picture. That’s winning a hockey game and hopefully a national championship. It’s been tough, but it’s been a great experience and I’m very excited to make it to the Frozen Four.”
Growing up and learning how to skate and play hockey at Jack Adams Arena, Burt, one of just a couple African-Americans playing Division I hockey, said that his father got him interested in the game after he took the family to see a PAL game.
“I just started out as a normal kid playing sports," said Burt. "My dad kind of wanted me to go a different route, so he laid out a few options for us and hockey sounded real good to me. My brother and I went to watch some games at a local rink (Jack Adams) and I fell in love with it. It’s great coming back here and I’d love for more inner-city kids to start playing the game. I think it’s a real positive avenue for them to choose. I go to my local rink every summer to skate around with kids and explain to them what hockey has done for me and how good of an experience hockey has been for me.”
A sophomore at the Rochester, N.Y.-based school in the Atlantic Hockey Association, Burt put up 16 goals and 47 points this year. In the East Regional two weeks ago, RIT upset both Denver and New Hampshire, two nationally-ranked teams, and Burt had a point in each game, including the game-winning goal in the 2-1 win against Denver. He was also named the AHA Tournament MVP a week earlier after a five-point game in the final against Sacred Heart.
Now back in his hometown, Burt will try and not let his emotions get the best of him.
“I’m not really an emotional person, but it’s going to be great to play in front of family and friends," said Burt. "I got a call from my grandma saying she’s going to be in attendance, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m not really thinking about all that much. I’m just trying to play a hockey game and it’s a bonus that they’re going to be here.”
The obvious underdog of the Frozen Four, RIT has no inclinations of keeping it that way, according to Burt.
“We really don’t listen to that," he said. "We knew coming into this tournament that we were one of 16 teams going for a national championship. I just look at us as another team. I’ve seen what this team can do and I think we can skate with any team in the country.”
RIT is no stranger to winning national championships. The Tigers won the Division II title in 1983 and the Division III crown two years later.
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Photo by Dylan Heuer/RIT