Kenny Burgess is among the most soft-spoken, humble state champions in history. The Delbarton senior goalie prefers to let his play in between the pipes speak for him.
Burgess won 19 games this season, capping off a dramatic mid-season turnaround with 33 saves in a 4-2 triumph over then-No. 1 Don Bosco Prep in the final of the NJSIAA Non-Public State Tournament on March 5 at Prudential Center in Newark as the senior goaltender backstopped the Green Wave to an unprecedented 13th state title in school history.
With a 19-5-1 record, minuscule 1.75 goals-against average and sparkling .934 save percentage to go along with seven shutouts — two of which came against Bishop Eustace and Christian Brothers in the state tournament — Burgess is The HockeyClan/Buttendz New Jersey Boys Ice Hockey State Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
“Saying he was exceptional is an understatement,” long-time Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel, who secured the 400th victory of his career on Feb. 12, said. “Kenny was at his best in Massachusetts and and the playoffs. He was our most consistent player all year. He played at a high level every night. Kenny performed whenever we called on him — he exceeded all of our expectations.”
After a three-game skid in January, including a 2-1 loss to Don Bosco Prep despite making 25 saves, Burgess got revenge on his North Jersey rival by standing tall with 21 saves on 22 shots as the Green Wave turned the tables with a 2-1 victory of its own in the final of the 60th annual Gordon Cup on Feb. 12 at Codey Arena in West Orange.
“The two losses to Bosco in the regular season really lit a fire under us,” Burgess said. “Two losses at the time, even though it hurt us, all the outside noise saying we weren’t going to do it pushed us. Obviously as a goalie you try not to worry about all that, you just focus on doing your job and keep the puck out of the net, but it feels good when your teammates step up and help and contribute and give you some room to make some mistakes.
“We were determined to work harder, won the Gordon Cup first, but our ultimate goal was to win the state championship,” Burgess said. “We worked hard, got it done and it’s unbelievable. It’s what we came here to do. When you come to Delbarton you come here to win state championships and going out as a senior and leaving that legacy feels amazing.”
After serving as understudy to 2016-17 State Player of the Year, Troy Kobryn, the cage belonged to Burgess his senior season and the two-time state champion came through to give his team a chance to win every night.
“Kenny Burgess is a player who sat behind one of the best goalies Delbarton has ever seen,” Delbarton Defensive Coach Craig Wicker said. “He bided his time and came in a senior with four months to prove himself as a hockey player. I’ve been overwhelmed during my tenure at Delbarton with seniors who get one crack at it and how great they are when it’s their time to shine.”
“Our team, our program has always been built from the goal out,” Wicker said. “As a defensive coach I take a lot of pride in that but we need a good goalie, have to have good defensemen. For Kenny to do what he did this year with the defense he had in front of him was something to behold. A couple of shutouts in the state tournament? He knows if he gives up one goal it could be the difference between bringing home a trophy. Hats off to Kenny and the kids who played in front of him.”
Burgess steered aside all 11 shots he faced in an 8-0 victory over Bishop Eustace in the Sweet-16 on Feb. 22, stopped 16 of 18 shots in a 3-2 triumph over Morristown-Beard in the quarterfinals before coming back with his second shutout of the state tournament with 13 saves in a 5-0 win over CBA in the semifinals.
“It was hard,” Burgess said, “but we knew with the coaching staff we have and the winning tradition we have at this school if we kept working hard and listened to our coaches we could get it done and luckily we were able to.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Backstopping Delbarton to the 2018 NJSIAA Non-Public State Championship, including a 33-save performance in a 4-2 victory over Don Bosco Prep in the state final, Green Wave goaltender Kenny Burgess is The HockeyClan/Buttendz Boys Ice Hockey State Player of the Year. (Tom Smith/TSPImages)
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