Katie Burt continues U.S.A. Hockey journey with pro landscape clouded

CRANBERRY, Pa. — Katie Burt was going to be a hockey star in some capacity.

Her record-breaking work at Boston College was already resume enough, but it was clear that the Lynn native, who started at BC a year early, was going to be a national-level goaltending talent.

Burt had some stints with the U.S. Under-18 team, but made her major international debut earlier this year, getting into one contest of the Rivalry Series.

The 22-year-old is getting another big look during this week's Team U.S.A. scrimmages with Canada in Pennsylvania, with the hope of getting some more time in the second edition of the Rivalry Series.

“It's good to be back in practices,” said Burt. “It can be tough sometimes at home, but it's good to be here. Getting adjusted so far but I feel really good going into the end of this camp. Chicago (a Professional Women's Hockey Players Association event) was a first-class event and the hockey was fantastic and (we) came out with a win. The competition there helped me prepare to come here and play.”

Burt posted a 2.26 goals against average and .920 save percentage as a rookie with the Pride before being one of the nearly 200 players who announced they wouldn't play in the National Women's Hockey League this season.

She hasn't lost contact with her former teammates even though her vision of the sport, like many of those in the PWHPA, is different.

“I run into them in the gym a couple of times,” said Burt. “We're still friends, I respect their decision and they respect my decision. There's no bad blood or anything, we're still friends and I wish them the best and I hope they wish me the best too.”

Burt was one of the first players in the NWHL who had a full college career while knowing the league existed as a pro hockey option once she graduated. In the time since she was drafted by the Pride to now, the landscape has changed drastically in terms of public perception and options. The NWHL still exists for those who want to play in it, but the CWHL is gone and the PWHPA essentially takes its place, with a different model.

The inconsistency can be tough for a player looking to carve out a professional career, but Burt has made the most of it, focusing on international play and being a part of the PWHPA.

“It's two different visions,” she said. “I think the way I think, and (NWHL players) think the way they think, and we totally respect that. It's refreshing to have someone respect your opinion and have it differ.”

Burt said she doesn't miss playing locally terribly, even though she trains in Massachusetts every week, and she said excitement around what the PWHPA is accomplishing is outweighing anything else.

“We're kind of barnstorming here,” she said. “We're giving people opportunities to see our game and grow our game that wouldn't be in years past. For me it's exciting to go to these places and play there.”

As far as what the future holds, she's as excited to learn as anyone else.

“I guess you're going to find out.”