From The GW Hatchet
By Sandra Koretz
After playing two years in the junior hockey league with the East Coast Wizards and reclassifying at his boarding school to play an additional year, then 21-year-old forward Augustus Burkhardt came to GW in 2019, shifting his focus from hockey to academics after a handful of concussions.
Now as he hangs up his skates after four years of club hockey, the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League named Burkhardt the Elite Division II Player of the Year Feb. 16 after he recorded 26 goals, 21 assists and 47 points in his senior season. And when he’s not knocking in hattricks to guide the team to the division playoffs, Burkhardt juggles the team’s logistics and finances as the president of GW Club Hockey.
Junior hockey is a professional hockey league for players ages 16 to 20 and is generally considered “amateur hockey,” but traditionally, players play in the junior hockey leagues before attending college to gain more experience and skill. During his time playing junior hockey, Burkhardt said he would train from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and would work part time afterward for two years.
He said junior hockey helped him develop his skills as a hockey player to prepare him for NCAA hockey at the DI or DIII level, but at the end of his term with the East Coast Wizards, a handful of concussions led him and his family to shift focus to academics. He said his time playing in the junior leagues allowed him to excel in club hockey since he was able to take the competitiveness of NCAA DI- and DIII-like hockey games into club hockey.
Burkhardt’s career in the junior league is highlighted by eight goals, 20 assists and a total of 34 points in 35 games with the East Coast Wizards in the 2018-19 season while totaling five goals, 16 assists and 21 points in the 2017-18 season with the New Jersey Rockets.
“I guess a more personal aspect that I feel I brought to the team, I guess by nature of it, because I was older from the get-go, I guess some maturity,” Burkhardt said. “I was very fortunate to have played hockey at a somewhat high level before. I was able to help the team, especially in places where the schedule was tougher, I was able to perform well.”
The hockey team assembled a 10-10-1 conference record in the American Collegiate Association Division II, where 200 teams play across the U.S. but recorded a 3-6 record in the regional Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League, ranking fourth in the Capitol Region but did not qualify for the ACCHL playoffs. In the 2021-22 season, the team recorded a 7-3 record with a second-place rank in the Capitol Division and the eighth seed in the ACCHL quarterfinals, where they played until the quarterfinals.
The 14 head coaches that make up the Elite Division select the Player of the Year award as part of the annual ballot of season awards, including First Team, Second Team and Rookie of the Year. The ACCHL is split into two levels – the Premier League comprises bigger schools with varsity teams that compete for regionals and national tournaments, while the Elite Division 14 teams vie for a more localized conference title.
Burkhardt recorded a total of 68 goals, 51 assists and 119 goals in 58 games throughout his career after missing out on the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burkhardt attributes his success to the coaching staff, made up of alumni and assistant coach David Baratta and Head Coach Jon Moynihan, that welcomed him with open arms in 2019 and helped him adjust to college life in an environment where he felt comfortable with both teammates and coaches due to the less intense atmosphere.
He said receiving the Player of the Year nod from the ACCHL felt “incredible” since only a small number of players are recognized by the league and showcased other teams’ acknowledgment of his performance.
“So I’m extremely grateful for them,” Burkhardt said. “And both the coaches and the kids that I’ve been able to play with for the last four years, because that really made the environment what it was, and definitely helps me perform well, both on and off the ice.”
Baratta said when Burkhardt reached out to the coaches in his freshman year to play with the club team, they knew he would be one of their top players due to his experience in the juniors. He said Burkhardt gives other coaches “nightmares” as a consistent scoring threat.
Baratta said Burkhardt took the initiative to keep in touch with all the team’s players and contact interested freshmen during the pandemic to maintain the team’s numbers and chemistry until they could get back on the ice. During the pandemic, the team were off the ice up until the fall of 2021 due to the safety distancing guidelines placed by the league and GW.
“Off the ice, the constant refrain we heard from other coaches when it came to Augie and why I think he probably won this award, is they had nothing but nice things to say about him off the ice,” Baratta said. “He got to know several of the other coaches in the league from playing against them and in the handshake line, they always said he would look them in the eye and thank them for a good game.”
Sophomore and assistant captain defenseman Cade Llewellyn said Burkhardt acts as the glue of the team, ensuring all club members socialize with each other and have fun in the locker room before games to build chemistry.
Llewellyn was named to the All-ACCHL 2nd-Team after recording 11 assists, three goals and 14 points this season and said he has a big role to fill as the incoming captain since Burkhardt graduates in the spring. He said during the pandemic, Burkhardt kept the program alive by keeping up with the demands and needs of GW to maintain its club status.
“He is an old man,” Llewellyn said. “So we would like to give him a lot of cr*p for that, without a doubt, he is our father.”
Llewelyn said Burkhardt makes up for “95 percent” of the team offense scoring in every match multiple goals whenever he’s passed to puck, performing hat tricks and quick offensive plays for the team at a minute’s notice.
He said the team appreciates Burkhardt’s dedication to the program during the pandemic and regrets often taking Burkhardt for granted. He said players will remember Burkhardt as the heart and soul of the team.
“We’re going to miss him a lot,” Llewellyn said. “What he did to keep our program alive and keep it running as smoothly as it has for the last couple years is just a testament to how hard he works.”
(Originally published at https://www.gwhatchet.com/2023/03/09/club-hockey-captain-honored-in-senior-year-with-player-of-year-recognition/)