Scott Knowles’ cell phone has been buzzing constantly. At one point, Cameron Burt had to shut his off.
The two sophomore forwards live in different countries, yet just miles apart. Burt is from Detroit. Knowles hails from Windsor, Canada—just a 15-minute drive from Detroit’s Ford Field, where RIT takes on Wisconsin at 5 p.m. today in the NCAA Frozen Four.
Calls have come from close family and friends. Messages have been received from high school coaches and teammates. And each have heard from people they had long ago lost contact with—most calling in search of tickets. Distractions and nuisances aside, however, there’s no place they’d rather be playing.
There will be more than 100 members of the “Scott Knowles fan club” at Ford Field tonight. Fifty or so will be family members. Another 50 of his friends will be traveling to the stadium by bus. But there’s one person in particular that Knowles can’t wait to see in the stands—his grandfather, Glen Knowles.
Just six months ago, Knowles thought he may never see his grandfather again, let alone play hockey in front of him.
“After our game against Colgate, I got a phone call from my dad. He was pretty emotional,” Knowles says. “He said my grandfather wasn’t doing well and that I may need to come home.”
Glen Knowles had been diagnosed with a rare blood condition and was rapidly deteriorating. Doctors gave him only a 10 percent chance of survival. Knowles planned to head home the next day. But somehow, his grandfather recovered overnight.
“I talked to him the other day and he said he already has his ticket,” Knowles says. “I can’t wait to give him a hug and, if we win say, ‘this one’s for you.’”
Burt has been planning on attending the Frozen Four since the venue was announced. Although, he admits that he didn’t expect to be participating.
“Realistically, we were thinking about the NCAA Tournament…not the Frozen Four,” he says. “I was going to go regardless of whether or not we were playing. But this sure saved me a lot of money.”
Burt has been a media magnet in recent weeks, beginning when he was named the most outstanding player of the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament after the Tigers defeated Sacred Heart on March 20 to earn its NCAA Tournament bid. Now he’s heading home with his Cinderella-story Tigers.
Every Rochester area media outlet interviewed him last week, along with the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Michigan Hockey Magazine. Additionally, a video crew is following Burt throughout his stay in Detroit for an official NCAA documentary on the Frozen Four that is being produced by Rivals.com.
Burt’s excited to see his family and friends. He’s looking forward to playing in front of his grandmother, who hasn’t seen him play in years. But his eyes lit up when he thought about his favorite Motor City culinary treat.
“You have to get a Coney dog from Lafayette Coney Island,” Burt says of the restaurant at 118 W. Lafayette Blvd. in downtown Detroit. “It’s a hot dog with chili, mustard and onions. It’s only a block away from where we’re staying, so I’m definitely going to get one.”
It’s just one of the many benefits of going home.