Abin Boris, Staff Writer
Another former Utica Pioneers hockey player has taken the next step towards their professional dream.
Gregg Burmaster, a forward who had a record-breaking UC career, just made his debut in the ECHL (also known as the East Coast Hockey League). Burmaster was the Pioneers’ team MVP and was named to the first-team All-UCHC team last season.
Burmaster debuted with the Fort Wayne Komets, a member of the Vegas Golden Knights’ farm system. The ECHL is one step below the American Hockey League, which is the league where many top NHL prospects are shaped.
Here in the Komets system is where Burmaster will try and get used to an even faster style of play within professional hockey.
The jump from college to pro-level hockey is one that is not simple, but for Burmaster it is a task than can be done.
“The pro game is much different than college,” he said. “It is a more mature, skilled, possession-based game that is very systematic.”
While it was a little difficult to get used to the pro-level style of hockey, Burmaster said he made sure to take in the moment and realize he has a chance at his dream.
“It was an incredible feeling making the next step in my hockey career,” Burmaster said. “The ECHL is a great league and I look forward to continue making progress at the next level.”
Burmaster believes that he would not be where he his today without the support of his teammates and the bonds he made at Utica College in general.
Teammate and forward Jacob Gerson took the idea of staying even keel during the games and the length of the season from Burmaster.
“He was a great teammate who led by example,” Gerson said. “I learned how to take in all the good energy and block out all the bad from him.”
For defensemen Daniel Fritz, Burmaster was a great teammate and friend throughout the course of their times at UC.
“He is honest and hard-working and was always there for me,” Fritz said. “He is definitely a guy that I would want to have as a teammate any day of the week.”
Fritz had nothing but praise for how hard-working his former teammate is and how he helped push Fritz to become a better player.
“He showed me the value of perseverance and hard work,” he said. “Day in and day out, he would always show up ready to work and get better.”
For Fritz, the relationship between him and Burmaster paid off for him as he put up his best numbers in a Utica College jersey with four goals and 22 assists in 29 games.
Fritz is also very happy and proud of his former teammate for chasing his dream.
“It’s a good feeling to see my teammates take the next step in their hockey career,” he said. “Being able to play with a pro-caliber player is a blessing, and I am genuinely happy for all the guys who I have played with that are currently pro.”
As Burmaster continues his journey to the National Hockey League, all of his teammates and friends from UC will be supporting him.
“Pro level will take some getting used to,” Burmaster said. “But there’s nothing that can’t be done.”