Colin Burston certainly has the skills and experience to be a leader. Aboriginal Team Manitoba head coach Kevin Monkman, expects nothing less from the Notre Dame Argos star.
“Colin is another returning player who will be looked upon for leadership,” said Coach Monkman. “Colin is a tireless skater, who outworks his opponents. He will provide offense and be used in all situations at this year’s NAHC. Colin is having a solid season at Notre Dame this year.”
Indeed he is. In fact, he’s playing so well in the Saskatchewan Triple A Midget Hockey League, that he’s in the Top 20 in scoring with 20 goals and 24 assists in 37 games. Playing on a line with Makai Holdener (14th) and Gage Ramsey (18th), the trio is ripping up the SAAAML.
“Yeah, I’m having a pretty good season,” Burston said modestly. “Hockey is very important to me and I’m fortunate to be playing in a great program here. We’re in first place and this is a really great team. My parents and I talked for a long time before making the decision to have me go to Notre Dame. I’m still really enjoying it and I know I’m becoming a better player.”
After the Notre Dame season ends, he will join his teammates with Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Kahnewake, Que., which runs from April 28-May 3.
The 45-game tournament for men and women will be held at the Kahnawake Sports Complex and in Brossard, Que. The NAHC is a minor hockey Championship for male and female players who are Bantam and Midget aged players. In order to be eligible to play in the Championship a player must be of Aboriginal decent (Status or non-status First Nation, Metis, Inuit or Dene).
Treatied to Fisher River First Nation, Burston grew up in Winnipeg and started playing hockey at age 5 with the Dakota Lazers. He played his minor hockey at Dakota and then moved up to Bantam Triple A with the St. Vital Victorias. He then played with the Monarchs and in Grade 9 moved on to Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Sask.
Last year, his parents came to him and asked if he’d be interested in playing for Team Manitoba. Burston said he jumped at the chance.
“They asked me if I was interested and I told them I was very interested,” he said. “I knew a lot of the players and we had a great team last year but just missed a medal. This year I think we’ll really challenge the other teams there. After playing last year, I know most of the guys on the team. Linden McCorrister and I used to play together a lot. I still haven’t met Coach Monkman yet, but I’m looking forward to it.”
As a returning player who is one of the leading scorers in the Saskatchewan Triple A Midget League, Burston had already earned his spot on the team and wasn’t required to attend a tryout. He is the only player on the team from Fisher River First Nation.
“I really liked the event last year,” he said. “Playing in Kahnewake was fun. They put on a real good tournament and I liked my teammates. We should have an even better team this year. It was also fun to visit a place I’ve never been to before. They had a nice facility. It was fun.”
The 17-year-old Burston is just finishing Grade 11 at Notre Dame. Although it took a long time for Colin and his parents to decide on leaving Manitoba to attend school in Saskatchewan, the decision has obviously paid off. Although not drafted by a Western Hockey League team as a bantam, he has since been listed by the Calgary Hitmen.
“I haven’t decided what I want to do with hockey yet. I just know I want to take it as far as I can,” Burston said. “I have the option of going to a U.S. university or playing in the CIS, but if the Hitmen put me on their roster next season, I’d jump at the chance to play in the WHL. My ultimate dream is to play in the NHL. Whatever gives me the best chance to do that is what I’m going to do and if I get a chance to play in the WHL, I think that will give me the best opportunity.”