SPECIAL TO THE WESTERN STAR
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. — It's been six years since Andrew Burden and Andrew Antle put on the same team jerseys.
The two best friends grew up together in Corner Brook, playing hockey and other sports until Burden moved to Nova Scotia with his family in 2013. Just a few weeks ago, Antle was traded from the Fredericton Red Wings to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, where Andrew Burden is also a player, putting them back together on the ice as teammates.
Andrew Burden’s father, Scott Burden, is part owner of the Pictou Weeks Crushers, who play in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. He is excited to have the boys back together.
“They actually started preschool together at age three, and have been friends ever since,” he said. “After we moved to Halifax in 2013, they had to say goodbye. They were two of the top athletes in the area and played baseball, hockey, soccer, basketball, even downhill skiing. They won lots of championships together.”
Burden is glad to have both players on the team. His son ended up on the team by happenstance, he says.
“I was negotiating to buy the Pictou County Crushers at that point as a silent partner, and before we completed the negotiations, they traded for my son — by chance. He could have been traded to any of the other teams in the league but he got traded to the team I was negotiating to buy,” said Burden.
Getting Antle on the team was an unexpected bonus.
“We got a call from Bryan Casey, the coach in Fredericton. I had told him to let me know if he ever had a chance to trade any of the Corner Brook players,” Burden said. “He has at least a couple on his team and Antle became available. So, we traded for Antle and he’s now playing back with his buddy that he met when he was three. They’re going to finish their careers together as they started, on each other’s team.”
Andrew Burden shares his dad’s excitement.
“I’m really excited to be playing with Andrew again. We were teammates. We helped each other and passed to each other.”
Moving away from his friends was hard for Andrew Burden.
“We moved from Corner Brook (when) I was 14. It was tough for me leaving all my friends,” he said. “It was a small town and I had a close group of friends.”
The younger Burden didn’t warm the bench for long — he got right back into playing hockey in Halifax.
“I started Grade 9 at Rocky Lake Junior High and I met people there that I had been playing hockey with.”
Andrew Burden went on to play for the Cole Harbour Major Midgets and then Ridley College before being drafted to the Edmundston Blizzard in 2018.
Antle remembers when the Burdens moved to Halifax.
“We had our friend group. There were about five of us who always used to hang around together,” Antle says. “Everyone was shocked to see him leave. The year before he left, we won Grade 8 basketball provincials and bantam hockey provincials.”
Antle remained in Corner Brook and played for Western Kings Midget AAA. He was drafted out of the midget league to the St. Stephen Aces in New Brunswick.
“I knew if I wanted to pursue hockey, I had to leave home. But New Brunswick is nothing like Newfoundland,” he says.
Antle had been in New Brunswick for seven months when the team was sold to Fredericton.
“I was in there (Fredericton) for tryouts and played a few games and then I got traded. It was just kind of sudden. That’s what happens in hockey. People get traded,” said Antle.
‘Something I didn’t expect’
Antle joined Burden and Brayden Ryan, another player from Corner Brook, on the Weeks Crushers team, along with Malcolm Genge, from Anchor Point, NL. Both Antle and Burden play center.
“It’s pretty cool being back together after playing together our whole life. After minor hockey, it’s really something I didn’t expect,” said Antle.
Both Burdens and Antle have high hopes for the team this year.
“We’re an older team in our league, a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds, and it’s a good team,” said Andrew Burden.
His dad echoes the positive refrain.
“We’re expecting to be really good. We were nationally ranked a week ago but lost two games this weekend. Hockey works in cycles. You build a team for a year or two. This year we should be at our peak,” said Scott Burden.
Watching the Corner Brook boys on the ice will be a highlight of the year for the senior Burden.
“It’s fun for us. We get to see them play together. It’s no different than when they were three,” he said.
“Once you leave major midget, you could end up anywhere. To end up on the same team at the end is really special.”