Burton 40: Lorne Bilinski
For all of the great players we've had, and all of the amazing feats they've accomplished, only one man can be the first-ever scoring champion. That same man is the only player to have been named to the all-star team every single season of Burton Hockey's existence. The man who led Burton in all-time goalscoring for nearly a decade. Native Burtonian and proud Hiberno-Ukrainian, Lorne Bilinski.
Slightly younger than the most of the original Burton crew, Lorne Bilinski was nevertheless part of the small brigade right from the beginning; a member of the core founding brigade. With Lorne, there was a special sort of impetuousness that carried through right into Burton Hockey. A sense that he could do whatever he wanted if he put his mind to it. A knowledge that he had the potential to dominate. And so he did.
Of the original core, Lorne was the first one to lobby for elite status in Burton Hockey, hovering just under 3.00 PPG. He was the goal scorer's goal scorer; almost always the main offensive threat when he stepped on the rink. While others were content just to show up, Lorne demanded excellence from himself; any session where he was not the top scorer made him angry and frustrated. The desire to score also produced some of the more lopsided Pavel ratios in Burton Hockey. But it paid off; he scored 212 goals and 325 points that first season to win the scoring title. And once that was locked up, he went in net for the hell of it at the end of the year and nearly took that title, too.
A confident, self-assured teen/young adult when it came to hockey, Lorne (and brother Laird by proxy) developed a decent rivalry with Joe Chwachka, a rather strong personality himself. As much as they'd all like to put it behind them, the only time Burton Hockey came close to blows was in 2003 with a three-way shoving match. (Sorry, Lorne; it's too funny to leave out!)
Amazingly, that 2000 championship was the only title Lorne has won. Myriad camping trips to Whatshan Lake and family travels always seem to ensure that he just misses enough games each year to get close, but no cigar. This fact is even more amazing in that Lorne has only gotten better and dealier as he's matured. In fact, 2004-05 saw him overhaul his game completely, adding a defensive facet that would have been unthinkable in the early years. In fact, when he relocated to the North Shore and joined the VIHL, he became one of the better defensive defencemen in the league!
In VRH, Lorne put together a string of four consecutive 3.00 PPG-plus seasons (no one else can claim more than two!). As Lee Orr took over as the most consistently dominant player in BUSH, it was Lorne's benchmarks he was chasing down. Lorne also began goaltending large parts of the year; a bit rusty at first but back in the .800s for 2009, he is truly a dual threat. Offensively, 2009 started off horribly by his standards (a combination of illness and conditioning), but he's recovered the pace enough in the second half to perhaps make it ten all-star teams in a row. The Lorne Bilinski of 2009 is not recognisable to those who remember the 18-year-old Lorne of 2000: a relaxed, even-handed, two-way player more focused on his team than himself. He's always been really good. But now he's an adult: mature, thoughtful, and a true sportsman, constantly joking and smiling; even the originals, it seems, have grown and developed through the course of Burton Hockey. 1,400 points after he began, Lorne Bilinski is better than ever. An original and core member in both leagues, he's transformed himself from a skating embodiment of impudence to a humble, valuable teammate (that still destroys boxscores week in, week out!). As one of the most dominant players, one of the highest-volume-everything players, and as of the best friends Burton Hockey has ever known, Lorne Bilinski is one of the Burton 40.
Awards: Scoring Champion - 2000; Most Outstanding Player - 2002; Dual Threat of the Year - 2000 (tie), 2008; 1st All-Star - 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008; 2nd All-Star - 2006; Most Dedicated Team - 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008.
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Ben de Wit