The fact that Boston College goaltender Katie Burt is only number 23 on our top 25 list has more to do with her age than her actual performance or ability. Despite being a college senior, Burt is only 20. But though she's young, she's not lacking in experience, especially compared to other American goaltenders who have three to four years on her.
Burt is no stranger to being younger than her peers and competitors. As an 11-year-old in sixth grader, she started for the Winthrop/Lynn (MA) girls’ high school varsity team. She was the starting varsity goalie at Buckingham Brown & Nichol — the high school she attended — all three years she was there.
But the Eagles came calling early — they were so confident in the young player’s skills they asked her to accelerate her final year of high school so she could begin college a year early. As a 17-year-old college freshman, she was the starting goaltender for BC.
Time and time again, Burt has been described as calm in net. As a freshman, she had the best goals against average in nation at 1.11 and was undefeated in the first 25 games she played. That year she gave up just 38 goals and stopped 608 pucks.
To cap off her fantastic freshman season, the Lynn, Mass., native was the Hockey East Goaltender Champion, an award given to the goalie with the lowest GAA in conference play. That same season she played for Team USA at the Under-18 World Championships. In the final five minutes of a tied Gold Medal game against Canada, Burt made a crucial save. USA would go on to win in gold in overtime.
That pressure-filled experience set the stage for her sophomore season with BC. A stacked team led by stars including Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa tore through the season with a record of 40-1-0. The Eagles only loss came in the National Championship to Minnesota, an equally stacked team featuring Lee Stecklein, Hannah Brandt, and others.
Heading into her senior season, Burt is posed to set some NCAA, Hockey East, and Eagles records. She already holds the record at BC for career wins, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts. The recently-named assistant captain looks to continue climbing the NCAA records in career shutouts and career wins where she is fifth and sixth respectively. There’s no reason Burt won’t end the season topping the Hockey East record book for career wins in conference play as she’s only one off from matching it.
One thing may continue to prove elusive for Burt is an NCAA title. The Eagles have made it to the Frozen Four all three years with Burt in the crease. In 2015-16, they came the closest, falling to Minnesota in the Finals. It was their only loss of the whole season.
If she continues to play after college, the next great unknown for Burt is Team USA. She’s no stranger to USA Hockey. She won silver with the U18 team in 2014 and then backstopped the Gold Medal game to win gold with U18 team in 2015. She was on the U22 team last year for the three-game series against Canada and has been invited to numerous camps.
However, she was not selected to play at Worlds in 2017 with the Senior Team. And, while she was invited to the US National Team Selection camp earlier this summer, she was not selected to the National Team for the Olympics.
This is where Burt’s age is both a blessing and a curse. She was one of six goaltenders at the selection camp. She was the second youngest, up against older players such as Jessie Vetter, Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Nicole Hensley, and Alex Rigsby. Hensley and Rigsby would go on to be named to the team along with Maddie Rooney, who is six months younger than Burt and was also on the Worlds 2017 team.
With this being an Olympic year and Burt being 20, the door to Team USA isn’t closed to her yet. She was drafted first overall by the Boston Pride in the 2017 NWHL Draft. Another year of college as well as some time in NWHL might be all Burt needs to strengthen her resume and crack Team USA’s roster.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
There’s no doubt she belongs on this list. But again, Burt’s youth is working against her. Lacking the experience of older goaltenders, its hard to put her against some of her peers like Hensley or Emerance Maschmeyer or Ann-Renee Desbines (hint hint hint hint). She has proven herself to be a strong goalie who can only go up from here.