The KIJHL community is mourning the death of 24-year-old former Fernie Ghostriders and Columbia Valley Rockies hockey player, Brendan Burge, who died after falling from an apartment balcony on the night of March 17.
Friends and family took to social media, paying tribute to Burge, who they called a great hockey player, a great father, and an overall great guy.
“Brendan was a great kid,” said Will Verner, coach of the Fernie Ghostriders during one of the years Burge played for them.
On November 7, 2011, the Fernie Ghostriders acquired the CHA playing rights of Salmon Arm’s Brendan Burge, who at the time was playing for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. He played the next two years for the Fernie Ghostriders and was then traded to Columbia Valley.
Despite joining late in the 2011 season, Burge finished at the top of his team with 75 points, 23 points ahead of the second highest scorer Alex Milhouse.
“(Burge was) a great hockey player, he had fabulous hands, and could skate like crazy,” said Barb Anderson, team president of the Fernie Ghostriders.
Burge, centre forward, scored 24 goals that season with an average of 1.6 goals per game, two of which were game winners.
“When we brought him in, he exceeded all our expectations on the ice and off the ice. I really enjoyed having him around,” said Verner.
Will Verner remembers very vividly when exactly they traded for Burge, and how the team dramatically changed after acquiring him.
During Burge’s first game for the Ghostriders on November 10 at home against Nelson, he scored. This helped the Riders win 3-2 in overtime.
“I still remember that game, he was real good,” said Verner.
On his last game for the Riders, he also scored, making it 3-2 against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, at 9:16 in the second period of the Conference Finals. This was the last goal of the year for the Riders, and they lost that night 6-2.
“He was a big part of our team,” said Verner. “If you look at the stats that year… He was a good guy… I just remember him always with a big smile; he was a great kid. As well as he was on the ice; he was exceptional off the ice. He will be very missed.”
Burge, born in Salmon Arm, is survived by a daughter.