Sunday, September 09, 2012

Two prospective Hounds choose colleges

The puck hasn’t even dropped on the inaugural Midwest Junior Hockey League season, but the Hartland Hounds have already sent two players that had committed to play for the team this season to play college hockey.

Defenseman Dean Burggrabe (NCAA Division III Finlandia University) and forward Tommy Kilgore (ACHA Division I Oakland University) were prospective Hounds over the summer, but will now start the upcoming season on college campuses.

“This is what we do as coaches and why we get into coaching in the first place – to move these kids on to the next level and to not hold them back just to maybe get a few more wins during the season,” said Hartland coach Randy Montrose. “Junior hockey is for developing kids to have the ability to play college hockey. Does losing Dean and Tommy before the season starts hurt? For sure, but these are kids that have put in the hard work and have earned these opportunities. Both Dean and Tommy will flourish at their new schools.”

 Burggrabe, a 19-year-old from Marquette, skated during the 2010-11 season with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League and last year with the North American Hockey League’s Traverse City North Stars.

“I believe the opportunity came up from Randy talking to (Finlandia) coach (John) McCabe, who then contacted me to see if I was interested in joining the team at Finlandia,” Burggrabe said. “I then scheduled a visit with the school to see if I was interested. At the visit, I got a gut feeling that it was the best decision for me to enroll and play for Finlandia.”

Another two-year veteran of junior hockey, Kilgore played the last two years with the Metro Jets of the North American 3 Hockey League, donning the captain’s ‘C’ last year. A Pinckney native, Kilgore decided to play closer to home this season with the Hounds before the opportunity to play for Oakland came about.

“At the beginning of the summer, I began to realize that if I wasn’t going to play in the NAHL that it was time to start looking at colleges,” said Kilgore, who turns 20 on Sept. 18. “I met one of the coaches (Gordie Schaeffler) where I work out at Total Performance (in Wixom) and he told me about the team’s tryout camp that was happening last week and that I should come out and skate. I took him up on his offer and at the end of the camp, the coaches offered me a spot and I accepted.”

Kilgore, who also played three games with the NAHL’s Port Huron Fighting Falcons in 2010-11, said that telling Montrose of his decision was not nerve-racking in the least.

“Randy made me feel comfortable all summer long and never forced me into anything,” said Kilgore. “He really wants to see kids move on and not quit, so when I let him know I was going to Oakland, he was just as excited as I was, maybe more.

“That’s just the kind of person Randy is.”

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