BURTON: FROM WALK-ON TO FULLTIME D-MAN
By By Craig Rybczynski |
4/8/11 11:00 AM
The Rochester Knighthawks’ lineup has one of the finest rookie crops of talent in the 17-year history of the team. Never before have so many first-year pros had such an impact on the success of the team. This season, seven rookies have played games for the Knighthawks, including standouts Cody Jamieson, Jarrett Davis and Cory Vitarelli.
One of the steadiest rookies this season, however, has been defenseman Tyler Burton. He may not get the notoriety of his offensive counterparts, but plays a role just as valuable. The 22-year-old London, Ontario, native has played in 10 games this season and has shown progress on both sides of the ball. He has one goal and two assists to go along with 46 loose balls and 28 faceoff wins. Not bad for a kid that went undrafted in the September NLL Entry Draft.
Burton was a walk-on and made the team by attending the Knighthawks Open Tryout. During the first day of camp, the 6-1, 220-pound defenseman made such an impression on the Knighthawks lacrosse staff that they signed him to a two-year deal. Burton was named to the 23-man roster in December and has been a consistent performer for the Knighthawks.
“It was an unreal feeling. When I didn’t get drafted I was down, especially because I didn’t play in the summer,” he said. “When I went to the open tryout and it went well I proved to myself that I was good enough to be playing with these guys.”
He has learned on the job, playing with veterans like Kyle Laverty, Chris Schiller, Chris Driscoll, Scott Campbell and Pat McCready. The four players have given him solid advice and shown him how to conduct himself as a professional athlete.
“Every practice, every game and every shift they are always talking to each other about different situations,” said Burton. “They have helped me out a ton being a first-year guy in the league.”
Before arriving in Rochester, Burton played four seasons for the St. Catharines Athletics (Junior “A”) from 2006 to 2009. In his junior career, he recorded 86 points (34+52) in 65 games. He also played four seasons of college lacrosse at Division II Mercyhurst College. In 2010, he ranked third on the team in scoring, netting 26 goals and adding 12 assists for 38 points. Further, he led the team with three game-winning goals and was a Second Team All-East Coast Conference. He ended his career with 101 points (70+31) in 54 games and one trip to the NCAA Division II Finals.
Burton may get a chance to play field lacrosse again this summer with the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse. He was a supplemental pick by the Nationals, who are set to kick off training camp in early May.
“It is good to be able to play both,” he said. “It will switch it up a bit because in field I play offense and defense as a midfielder. It’s also good to stay in shape.”