Josh Burnside is noticing the difference when playing on the top line, and that he needs to take his game into the next stage.
At 5’11 and 171 lbs. Burnside learned to play in front of the net for a smaller guy and evolved his game last season when playing alongside their top scorer, Riley Brace, and playmakers Dylan DeMelo and former Captain Stuart Percy. He’s draft eligible this season and he says he knows he will have a big role and needs to perform.
Two games in and Burnside tallied three assists, already warming up for the rest of the 66 games, without his fellow teammates, except for goal scoring Dylan Smoskowitz.
Burnside saw the change happen at the end of last season and made sure to hit the ice for a much practice as possible.
He’s not only expected to score and open up plays with his physical play and speed, but his leadership is important to the team too.
Burnside has a few teammates to help bring into the club, defenceman Sean Day and forward Jesse Barwell.
Day, 15, was selected fourth overall in the 2013 OHL Priority Draft with the intent to grow into their star defenseman. With profiles from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), The Hockey News, and Yahoo! Sports, Day was another exception to the eligibility status touted his skating similar to “Paul Coffey.”
Barwell, 16, and a second round pick in the 2013 draft, is known for his speed, quick shot, and evolved hockey mind. He’s starting and they are looking for Barwell to gain the experience he needs in order to grow into a high tempo forward.
Both Day and Barwell already made an impact in the weak Steelheads lineup, and alongside newly-captained Brett Foy, Burnside is looking to give the young crop some insight he said.
Burnside says they really great for the team, but they just need to get used to the league. He especially pointed out the physical endurance involved playing in the OHL.
He says for himself, he had to learn how to stand his ground when he was in front of the net, and expect some rough-housing.
“Just stand my ground because I know I am going to get cross-checked and slashed by the goalie.”
He emphasized, “just stand your ground.”
Burnside has a plan for this season, and so far the Steelheads are fulfilling it and that’s to shoot as much as possible he said. Just shoot pucks at net and chase.
Burnside expects to see himself on the score sheet more often and has a few goals: play a physical game, help his younger teammates, and…
“Playing with Brace and Smoskowitz last year helped me a lot,” Burnside said. “This year, I’m going to do my best to try to get as many goals as I can.”