Burton 40: K.J. O'Connor
Burton Hockey coasted along for the first couple of seasons on a solid pool of originals. When those originals began to move away, it was then we realised how important it was to incorporate new talent and make them regulars. Of that second generation of Burton Hockey talent, no one has had the impact of Kerry Joshua O'Connor.
K.J. and his brother Seamus could not be more opposite in attitude, and this is reflected in their playing styles. While Seamus is reserved and intense, K.J. is in-your-face, outspoken, confident. But no one can argue that it's worked for both of them. K.J. was a star in the making from the second he stepped on the rink; he made the all-star team in his second year, becoming one of the few players to be named at both forward and goaltender in the same season. Along with Seamus and Justin Gordon, K.J. is one of the greatest dual threats ever, and has the best claim of anyone to be called the greatest goaltender ever of either league. Much to the chagrin of his exasperated opponents, his 2007 campaign was and is the most complete domination of both ends of the rink Burton Hockey has ever seen in a season, as he finished the year with a record .904 in goal and missed the scoring title by just a single point (it would have been his were it not for his stints in goal). In the process, he pretty much swept the year-end awards, winning ten (MVP, MOP, MOG, Dual Threat, Ironman, etc.). It could have been a clean sweep, except he wasn't a defenceman or a rookie. Everything else was his.
K.J. broke the hegemony of the year-2000 originals in Burton. He's consistently gotten better and better as time goes on; 2009 saw him join the ranks of the 3.00 PPG club. He's extremely fast and one of most accurate shooters in history. He's out for glory and not afraid to admit it. Even when a broken femur derailed his 2009 campaign halfway through, within two weeks he was already talking about his inevitable return and how he'd be ready to go for 2010. We don't doubt it for a second. Call him brash, call him cocky, it doesn't matter. Just call him what he is: damned good. He's one of the best pure snipers we've ever seen, and he IS the all-time leading goalie in Burton Hockey history. He's been one of the backbones of BUSH now for years and promises to be so for many years to come. As the true definition of a dual threat, as Burton's top goalie, and as the player who had led the Burton new school for so long he became old school himself, K.J. O'Connor is an easy choice for the Burton 40.
Awards: Goaltending Champion - 2004, 2007; Most Valuable Player - 2007; Most Outstanding Player - 2007; Most Outstanding Goaltender - 2007; Dual Threat of the Year - 2004, 2007; Most Improved Player - 2007; Ironman of the Year - 2007 (tie); 1st All-Star - 2007, 2007g; 2nd All-Star - 2004, 2005; Most Dedicated Team - 2007.
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Ben de Wit