Detroit and Ford Field were the history makers at the recent NCAA Frozen Four national hockey championship at Ford Field as a record crowd of 37,592 attended the title contest.
Sure, Boston College was a big story as the Eagles have appeared in the Frozen Four 10 times in the last 13 years and four of the last five years. The Eagles lost to Wisconsin in 2006 (2-1) and to Michigan State in 2007 (3-1). Boston College avenged the loss to Wisconsin, winning 5-0 at Ford Field.
Boston College’s win was great, but the feel good story of the event was Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology making the Final Four. But wait, it gets even better, as the Tigers were led by Detroit native Cameron Burt.
Burt, 23, a 2005 graduate from Detroit Communication & Media Arts, led the Tigers with 16 goals and 47 points. At a smallish 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, the sophomore forward showed heart and grit by earning the Atlantic Hockey tournament MVP.
Burt’s team came to Detroit on a wild, unbelievable 12-game winning streak. They pulled off a shocking 2-1 upset of top-seeded Denver in the East Regional opener, then defeated New Hampshire, 6-2, in the title game.
Dreams do come true.
One dream Burt had was to play for Wayne State, but the school dropped hockey following the 2007-08 season. So, after three seasons of junior hockey, he found himself attending Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology. A school that had never been to the Final Four, does not offer scholarships and has only been competing at the Division I level for five seasons.
“It’s a dream,” said Burt, one of the few African Americans playing college hockey. “I feel very fortunate to have the chance to come home and play. It’s a great opportunity. Quite as it is kept, Detroit has some outstanding African-Americans players and programs. I think we do as well and any city in that regard.”
RIT may have lost in the semi-finals, but it was a win-win situation for Burt.
No one was more happy that his father, Ernest Burt.
“My dad didn’t want us to just play the traditional African-American sports like football and basketball,” Cameron’s told reporters. “He wanted us to try something different.”
Ernest recalled how he took Brandon, 9 at the time, and Cameron, 5, to watch a PAL Detroit Hockey Association game.
“Once they saw it they got hooked,” Ernest told reporters.
The rest is history.
Leland Stein III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.