Katie Burt can find positives even in a loss.
Her Buckingham Browne & Nichols girls hockey team saw their 2012-13 season end with a 5-1 playoff loss to Noble and Greenough, but the junior goaltender thought it was an important step for her team.
“Last year’s performance we had against Nobles in the playoffs, I thought we played well despite the score,” said Burt, last season’s co-most valuable player of the Independent School League. “Even though we lost that game by a lot, we could go into the locker room proud of the effort we put out there. We could look around the room and be happy with what we did. We want a consistent effort like that.”
Burt’s prep career thus far embodies consistent effort. Last season, she logged a 1.60 GAA and .944 save percentage as a sophomore. Her freshman year, she earned All-ISL honors after a season where she had a .950 save percentage.
Burt’s performance helped lead the team to a 10-8 season in 2012-13 and the eighth seed in the ISL playoffs. 2012-13 was a huge improvement over where the program had been previously; the Knights finished 2011-12 with a mark of 7-10-2 after winning or tying their first eight games.
The Lynn, Mass., native’s previous consistency faced a bit of a speed bump in the off-season. Burt had surgery for a torn meniscus in July, limiting some of her training this summer.
“I was practicing in August. It was hard to get back in the swing of things,” Burt admitted. “It took a bit of time to get my strength back.”
Burt will start the ISL season on time, and she knows the pressure is on her to perform. It is that exact individual pressure with team benefits that led her to pick the goaltending position in the first place.
“I really like the pressure. I know it’s weird, but I really do like it,” Burt said. “I love the pressure and knowing it is on me. Goalie is kind of a great balance between playing an individual game and a team game. If you play a great game, but your team loses, you still feel bad. But if your team wins but you didn’t play well, you might feel bad. It’s the perfect balance between being part of a team and being an individual.”
The sense of team is something Burt saw growing on the Knights last season, and something she sees thriving even more under new head coach Ed Bourget. No stranger to the school, he assumes the head coaching mantle this season after serving as the boys varsity team’s assistant coach for the past seven seasons.
“Coach Bourget is trying to change the culture of the program. Not that it was a big problem before, but we are really close now,” said Burt. “We want to do everything together and we are like family. I think that’s why we’ve been able to come so far.”
Bourget is stressing a family feel not only between Burt and her teammates, but also between the girls team and the boys teams, something his years playing for the Knights in the mid-1990s and coaching at the school recently leave him uniquely qualified to do.
“It’s going to be fun to work as a complete hockey program,” said Bourget, who also spent a season coaching the BB&N girls program in 2005-06. “I want to have the teams cheering each other on.”
Bourget is in a position many of his fellow prep coaches would envy: six of his players, Burt included, made USA Hockey national team developmental camps this summer.
“Six of my 14 players went to a U.S, national camp, and two others were alternates,” Bourget said. “When you think about it, we had almost half the roster at a U.S. camp.”
Bourget thinks Burt and her teammates’ national team experience will help him instill his mantra of consistent effort. “I hope they learned that there is a lot of talent out there,” he said. “The women’s game is getting so much stronger. We can’t take anything for granted. There are no soft games at national camp.”
There will be no soft games in the ISL this year either. “I’m looking up and down our schedule, and you can definitely say that about our schedule, too. We’ve been trying to build a more competitive schedule.”
Bourget believes Burt is ready to face the ISL’s best but knows that they are more than ready to face her after the past two seasons.
“We aren’t going to sneak up on anyone because they will all know her and will be prepared for her. That’s what good teams do. We are going to have to be prepared every game.”
The preparation for every game ties back to Bourget’s and his charges’ new favorite words: effort and consistency. Even though the season had not officially started, that theme was woven through everything Burt believes about her team’s chances this season.
“Last year was a really successful year, despite of the seed, and we want to get back there,” Burt said. “A lot of the girls want to improve on our seed, but I say if we try our hardest every game, that might be more important than wins and losses. You never want a loss, but if you give it your all, the loss is easier to handle.”
Burt’s positivity isn’t just talk. She carries it with her on the ice because she knows she can influence her teammates to keep giving their all.
“Being a goalie is a natural leadership position, and I know my teammates are looking towards me,” she said. “You have to keep your head up because your teammates are looking at you. If I do that, they will too.”
That attitude will serve Burt well as she continues her hockey career at Boston College in 2015. It was quite fitting that she decided upon Katie King Crowley’s Eagles squad, and not just because they share a first name: Burt’s goaltending role model also spent his college career at The Heights.
“I looked up to Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) when I was a kid and he played for BC,” Burt said. “He was from the North Shore and when I was a kid, I understood that he was from the same area I was, and if he could make it, I could too.”