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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Caputo

Burns excited for next step as full-time OHL goaltender with Niagara

Brandon Caputo

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

Charlie Burns was drafted 167th overall by the Niagara IceDogs in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection draft but he could not have imagined the progression made since then, as he can now call himself a full-time OHL goaltender.

Moving away from home for the first time as a teenager has it's challenges but Burns hasn't let that affect him on or off the ice. "It's been a crazy last year or so. It was a bit of a shock moving down here at first, a lot more people down here than back home (Sault Ste. Marie) and being pretty far away but I have adjusted to it well and am enjoying it down here in Niagara" Burns said with a big smile on his face.

After a strong season with the Blind River Beavers in the NOJHL for the 2022-23 season, the 6'2 goaltender was then moved down to the Fort Erie Meteors in the GOJHL, in order to be closer to the IceDogs for monitoring or easier call-up logisitcs. With Fort Erie, Burns exclipsed a 16-3 record, posting a 2.32 goals against average and a .921 save percentage at the Junior B level.

The Day the Call Came

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

On December 10th, 2023, the Niagara IceDogs traded reigning OHL Goaltender of the Week Marcus Vandenberg to the Sudbury Wolves for a pair of draft picks, which meant that Niagara would need another netminder to go along with their solidified starter Owen Flores. The 17-year-old Sault St. Marie, Ontario native would be the one to get some lifechanging news as he was told that he would be called up from the Meteors to be the IceDogs second goaltender, making his dream of playing in the Ontario Hockey League on a full-time basis a reality.

"It was honestly pretty crazy" said Burns. "It did not feel real when I first found out the news that I was going to be called up to Niagara as a full-time OHL goaltender. It's definitely a dream come true for me."

Burns admits that the last few days have been an adjustment, but in an exciting way. "It has been a pretty cool past couple of days, I am really excited to be up here for the rest of the year with Niagara."

Last season the IceDogs 9th round selection in the 2022 Priority Selection Draft was able to get a taste of OHL action as he was called upon to start in three games during the 2022-23 season. Burns believes that small taste of what the OHL level feels like will help him now as he transitions to a full-time role.

"I'm hoping to bring some of that experience that I had last year during those three games and I think it's going to help me get acclimated here in the OHL level quicker than I would have otherwise. I learned a lot about the speed of the game at this level."

Burns credits his stint in Fort Erie as a confident booster for him to develop into the goaltender he has become. "I just stayed consistent, that was a big part of my thought process during my time in Fort Erie and giving the team a chance to win every night was my central focus while I was there in Junior B awaiting to earn the next opportunity in my hockey career" Burns said as he now reflects back on his time as a Meteor in the GOJHL.

Building Consistency and Comfortability

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

While it is an exciting time for Burns, there will be a learning curve anytime goaltenders move up to the next level, which means coaching and communication with those around Burns will be extremely important for his positive development. Niagara IceDogs new Director of Goaltending this season Adam Munro is excited to work with Burns after seeing him for a short while during training camp.

"From what people told me about Charlie last season, he looked a lot more mature when he came back after the summer this season" said Munro. "I have kept tabs a lot as he's been playing down here in Niagara with Fort Erie and I've really liked what he did at the Junior B level this year, proving to us that he's ready to take that next step."

Munro says that Burns' strengths will help him translate well to the next level. "He uses his size very well (6'2, 179 lbs). His hands are very good and very poised in the net which is very unique for a young goalie. Many goalies have confidence but he also has that poise element which I love as a coach" Munro said enthusiastically. "Every game I watched him play, even when goals would go in he was confident right away for the next shot and looked like he was back in there ready to go without letting it affect him too much."

The IceDogs Director of Goaltending know's it will be a process with Burns and wants to make sure that he's there to help him every step of the way with the twists and turns of being a young goaltender in this league.

"I tell him to take it one shot at a time, one day at a time as it's going to take a little bit of time for him to get acclimated to the speed of the shots up here in the OHL. With the shots coming off substainsially faster and quicker, it's going to be a learning curve but just staying on top of the puck, keeping track of it in your glove, in the corner, or wherever it may be is what I let him know" said Munro. "Building up the speed, you get calibrated by seeing the shots so your eyes and hands will come along. We will set a gameplan together going into each week for him to continue to build or improve off of on as far as theme's before and after practice."

Burns might seem like the quiet type, but to his goaltending coach he does open up more than people may think, in order to learn. "He is not a quiet guy, which I like" said Munro jokingly. "Charlie likes to ask me a lot of questions and there's stuff he genuinely wants to know and learn from as far as why we're doing things certain ways. He is very receptive from my short time working with him on a full-time basis since being called up, which is all I need from my goalies. If it's not something they're comfortable with, we'll scrap it and find a way that works best for them because there's no two goalies that I'm going to teach the same way since they are all individuals in their own ways."

Munro concluded by saying that comfortability is a big thing for him and wants Burns to feel like he can come to him in any situation at anytime. "I want to make sure he is comfortable first and foremost. Comfortablility with the goalies I work with is the biggest thing for me to help them with and whatever I have to do to help get them to that point is my job and I can't wait to do that here with Charlie now on a more consistent basis."

Fitting in with his Teammates

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Coming to a new team and dressing room with many personalities is never easy, especially as a goaltender, but Burns made it a point to say that his transition to the IceDogs room has been as smooth as it could possibly be thanks to a few familiar connections.

"Everyone has been pretty welcoming honestly, it's a good group in that they have here in that room and I already feel at home in that sense" said Burns. "Kevin (He) and I have classes together in high school so naturally I am pretty close with him because of that but also Ivan (Galiyanov), Artem (Frolov), Ryan (Roobroeck), and Ethan (Czata) as we all go to school together. The familiarity with them has helped me fit in more comfortably in a newer environment."

Teammate and friend Kevin He says that his relationship with Burns has been building even since the short time they spent together last season. "We've been pretty close from the start since we already knew each other from his time in Niagara last season but it's definitely better to be down here with some friends whether it be at the rink or at school" said He.

"I think Charlie will fit in just fine with the guys on the team" He said confidently. "Charlie is definitely going to be a guy we can rely upon to be a difference maker going forward in the net for years to come, along with our current starter Owen Flores."


In closing, the day he got the call was a proud day for the Burns family as Charlie spoke about their reaction being one of pure joy and happiness. "My parents were really excited and hopefully they can get down here for a few more games now the rest of the season" Burns said jokingly. "They were just as ecstatic as I was finding out the big news but it was all positive and a moment we'll remember as a family for sure."

It's safe to say that we may see more Burns family/friends contingient at the Meridian Centre or when the IceDogs are visitors on the road for the rest of the 2023-24 OHL season.



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