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Hockey Manitoba Community Story – Tanner Burgess

by Ezra Ginsburg  |  March 5, 2024 11:30 am

Tanner Burgess is so passionate about coaching hockey that he might draw plays up even when he is sleeping.

The 40-year-old engineer for CN Rail is the Head Coach of the U11 St. Boniface Seals A2A Red, the team that his son Axel, 9, currently plays for. Burgess has been a coach in the St. Boniface Minor Hockey Association (SBMHA) for five years now and first got into coaching after his good friend Kirk McCuspey encouraged him to get on the ice while McCuspey was coaching Axel at the U7 level.

“I just kind of fell in love with it. I remember those times when my dad coached me and just having those moments with him and always being able to have that. I kind of wanted to have that for Axel and then I had some amazing coaches growing up and I felt like it was time to give that back or in some way give it back. It’s been a blast so I’ve never regretted it one day.” Burgess said.

For Burgess, who began playing hockey at four years old and still plays recreationally, he loves being on the ice as a teacher but it’s the connections with young players and the potential impact that he can have on them that he enjoys most.

“Seeing kids that I used to coach that are still in U9, having them call me and say they made A1 and they are so excited about it and wanting to share it with me, that keeps me going all the time and makes it that much more rewarding. Seeing those kids grow and enjoy the game as much as I did is probably the biggest reason why I keep going out there.” Burgess said.

The U11 St. Boniface Seals A2A Red had an up and down year as the team was composed mainly of 9 year olds, but Burgess knows that growth, development, and helping kids love the sport is much more important than wins and losses.

“It’s been a great year. It’s been a big learning curve. But we’ve played some top teams and we lost by one goal, two goals. Lots of growth from everyone. Coaches included. We are coming back next year as a force to be reckoned with,” Burgess said. “Having a kid come up to you when they score their first goal and give you a big hug, that’s what makes it worth it. Those moments will live in my heart and memory until my mind goes but my heart will keep it.”

Burgess stresses fundamental skill development in his coaching but he always ensures a fun, positive environment for his athletes and he always emphasizes a strong work ethic and teamwork above all else.

“His approach is fun first. Every kid that I’ve ever known that has been on Tanner’s team has always had a fantastic year,” said Cal Hughes, who coached with Burgess at the U7 level. “It’s because hockey is fun rather than him creating an environment where you have to come and work and if you lose you’re going to skate. That’s not it. Hockey should be fun and if it’s fun then kids are going to naturally excel.”

Lee Short has coached with Burgess for the last three years and says that his commitment to the game, his ability to build two-way relationships with both players and parents and his encouraging teaching style are what set him apart as an outstanding coach.

“He’s a great person. He’s there for each and every one of those kids to make sure they strive to be the best they can be. When you’re at practice, you’re going to have to work hard to be better but it’s making sure you put the effort forward. He’s always talking to the parents and everyone involved with the team. If you need something, you can always reach out to Tanner.” Short said.

Looking ahead a year or two, Burgess plans on continuing to coach his son Axel at the U11 level, but he isn’t sure if he will continue to coach him past next season or if he will stay at the U11 level.

“It’s definitely something that I have thought about. With my job, if Axel starts getting into AA or higher end, I just don’t have the accessibility with my job to have that kind of commitment as a coach. But I’ll stay on the bench in one form or another. I have thought about staying at this U11 age. It’s pretty fun. As long as I can commit to that.” Burgess said.


Hockey Manitoba wants to hear your good news stories of coaches, parents, players, officials, and volunteers who are having a positive impact in your communities!

We are asking our members to help us tell these heartwarming stories by reaching out to us. You can submit your community stories by emailing Ezra Ginsburg, Hockey Manitoba Coordinator, Communications (


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Nov 2, 2005