Today we relay the stories of an Ontario Hockey League coach who recently won his 600th career game and a Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League coach who has issues with the leadership and character of his team. We also check in with a goal-scoring, penalty-minute leader in the Midwest Jr. Hockey League and a new goalie in the Canadian International Hockey League.
Take a bow, coach.
Belleville Bulls head coach George Burnett earned his 600th career Ontario Hockey League victory on Saturday.
Now in his 19th season as an OHL bench boss — and eleventh as coach-general manager in Belleville — the 52-year old Burnett is fourth on the league’s all-time win list behind the legendary likes of Brian Kilrea, the late Bert Templeton and former Bulls boss Larry Mavety.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work in this league with so many great people,” said Burnett. “When you reach a milestone like this you have a chance to reflect a little bit on all of the relationships you’ve made along the way with the kids, coaches, support staff, scouts and all of those people that don’t usually get the credit they deserve. I’m very appreciative of all the support I’ve received from people along the way to make this possible.”
As a player, Burnett skated for three seasons on the forward lines of the London Knights from 1979 to 1982 — and it didn’t take him long to get into coaching after that.
After serving as an assistant with the Oshawa Generals, Burnett made his OHL head-coaching debut with the Niagara Falls Thunder midway through the 1989-1990 season. He then won back-to-back OHL Coach-of-the-Year awards with Niagara Falls in 1990-1991 and 1991-1992.
Burnett later made OHL coaching stops in Guelph — where he led the Storm to the OHL title and Memorial Cup berth in 1997-1998 — and returned to Oshawa to coach the Generals from 2000-2004.
Burnett left Oshawa in 2004 to take over as coach-general manager of the Bulls.
In addition to his OHL experience, Burnett has been a head coach at the National Hockey League level with the Edmonton Oilers and an assistant under former Soo Greyhounds headmaster Craig Hartsburg with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Since returning to the OHL with Belleville, Burnett has coached the Bulls to one Eastern Conference championship, four East Division titles and an appearance at the 2008 Memorial Cup tournament.
Soo Thunderbirds head coach Jordan Smith did not mince words after his Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team coughed up a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the visiting Sudbury Nickel Barons on Saturday.
“I’m starting to question some guys character and leadership,” Smith told the Sault Star after the defeat. “I’m starting to wonder what’s going on here. I’m seeing a trend of letting games slip away when times are tough.”
Despite the lost point in the Sudbury game, the Thunderbirds enter play this week with a record of 20-4-3 and in a virtual tie for first place with the Kirkland Gold Miners.
19 GOALS, 100 PIM
Jacob Hernandez, a 1995 birth year forward with the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League, is a force to be reckoned with.
Not only does he have 19 goals in just 21 games with the Fighting Irish this season but rugged hombre Hernandez has racked up 100 minutes in penalties.
Detroit enters play this week in first place in the MWJHL with 41 points from a record of 19-6-3.
First-place Batchewana Attack of the Canadian International Hockey League has signed 1998 birth year goalie Chris Lindsay.
Lindsay will be Batchewana’s third-stringer behind the more-experienced tandem of 1995 birth-year Stefan Demetz and 1996 birth-year Shane Lippincott.
The 5-foot-7, 140 pound Lindsay began the 2014-2015 season with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League.
PHOTO: Belleville Bulls coach George Burnett.