Offensive defenseman shines for GVSU hockey

Burnett, Division II stalwart, leads suffocating Laker defense

By Josh Peick | 1/21/16 2:52am

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GVL / Emily Frye Sophomore Reede Burnett (#12)


In the last few years, all across the sports world, new rules have been put in place to allow players and teams to score more, as today’s sports society has put a premium on offensive output. If the game isn’t high scoring, the fans can lose interest. It takes a true sports fan to appreciate good defensive play.

In hockey, other than a hard check, defense is rarely flashy. It won’t make the highlight reel like a player dangling a puck and scoring top shelf, but it will win games, and win games it has for the Division II Grand Valley State men’s hockey club. The defense, which has given up more than three goals just three times this season, has lead the team to 22 wins. That defense is led by Reede Burnett.

Burnett, a junior, is the leader of a young defensive group. As the only upperclassman on defense, Burnett's consistency of play at a high level has been vital to GVSU's success and molding of the young players. He is the only Laker to play all 27 games.

But Burnett almost didn’t come to GVSU.

His journey is similar to other hockey players in Michigan. He learned to skate and play hockey at the age of 4, proceeding to play travel hockey until high school. He played his high school hockey for Farmington Hills Unified, and, like other talented players at that level, he was left with a choice, to either receive an education or play junior hockey.

“I was going to play juniors but I decided to get my education and play hockey at the same time,” Burnett said. “I came to Grand Valley because I heard they had a good program.”

Since hockey is a club sport, there are no financial incentives to play. The only incentive GVSU can offer is a competitive program that has had recent success in the national tournament. This makes it tough for the program to bring in quality players to compete on a regular basis.

Since Burnett has arrived at GVSU, his game only has improved. Coaches and teammates have noticed Burnett's vision on the ice and his ability to develop plays.

“He is a defenseman who can contribute offensively because of his patience and his vision,” said GVSU head coach Mike Forbes. “He’s been one of our top guys.”

“Reede does a great job of making the first attacker miss before making a breakout pass or skating it himself to jump start the offense,” said Laker captain Zachary Strain. “Having skilled defensemen such as Reede makes it easy to get (the puck) out of our zone, control the time of possession and create offense.”

The GVSU players and coaches are not the only ones who have noticed Burnett’s play. The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) awarded Burnett Second Team All-American honors last season. This season, he was selected to play on the ACHA Division II Select team, which played against top competition in Europe.

“It was a lot of fun and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to play against upper level competition,” Burnett said.

Even though Burnett has already achieved a great amount, the focus is still on this season. The Lakers have their eyes set on a national title, but first need to gain an automatic bid to the tournament. GVSU currently sits in second place in the ACHA Central region, and looks to retain that spot with six games left in the regular season. And while his name might not always show up in the box score, just look at the opposing team’s score, and it will show Burnett and the defense's contributions.

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