Saturday, May 12, 2007

Burke aims to stick with North Stars

Sean Burke hopes he won’t have to go far to take the next step in his hockey career.

Just a few miles, to be exact.

The former Traverse City West High School star accepted a tender for 2007-08 from his hometown Traverse City North Stars late this week, just in time for the weekend pre-draft tryout camp at Centre ICE arena.

“I was pretty excited,” said Burke, who poured in 16 goals and assisted on 29 other for the Big North champion Titans last season. “It would be nice to be able to stay in TC. I know junior hockey is one way to get to college (hockey), and to be able to do it in front of family and friends would be great.”

Burke amassed just about every postseason honor available to him after leading West to its first-ever Big North Conference crown in 2006-07. He was named captain of the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s All-Region Dream Team in March, followed by All-Big North and All-State first team honors came his way.

“Sean has a tremendous work ethic and character,” pointed out North Stars GM Anthony Palumbo, who had coached Burke in four of the past five seasons. “He was basically the top forward in all of northern Michigan, and one of the top four forwards in the whole state.”

Burke, playing for the Red Team at the Stars’ three-day camp, thinks he knows what Palumbo and the team’s scouting staff are looking for.

“I just go out and work as hard as I can,” he said. “It’s a little faster, a little more physical (than high school hockey), so I can’t leave anything on the ice if I want to earn my spot.”

The Stars have just four tenders remaining to use before the May 22 NAHL Draft after securing the rights to Burke, ex-TC Central stars Eric O’Hearn and Eric McLintock and Cleveland-area defenseman Trevor Shively.

“Sean is a big team guy,” Palumbo pointed out. “He shows great leadership in leading by example. He likes the front of the net a la (Red Wings forward) Tomas Holmstrom, and is very difficult to knock off the puck. He’s also got that scoring touch you look for.”

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