Raiders are happy to welcome back 19 year old Callum Burnett for his fifth season in Gold and Blue, having missed most of last season following his horrific wrist injury picked up in the Raiders 2 game against Slough Jets last November. Callum has the distinction of being the first player born in the 21st century to make a Raiders appearance.
Defenceman Callum made 17 appearances for Raiders 2 last season scoring six goals with seven assists for 13 points. In addition Callum made three appearances for Raiders 1 taking his total of Raiders 1 appearances to 82 in total and 100th position in overall appearances. Not bad for just 19 years of age.
Callum’s Raiders 1 debut occured just days after his 16th birthday, in an NIHL league game at Invicta in January 2017 and later that season he scored his only Raiders 1 goal, the game levelling goal in a 4-4 draw at Bracknell Hornets.
Callum started his junior career at Rom Valley Way but following the closure of Rom Valley Way, moved to Slough Jets to progress through their junior ranks before moving to Chelmsford for season 2017/18 making 11 appearances for Chelmsford Under 18 Mohawks, scoring four goals and eight assists for 12 points.
Callum has represented Great Britain in the last two Under 18 World Championships, picking up a winners gold medal in 2019 and also played for the England Under 19 team in their annual fixture against Scotland.
Sean Easton has been coaching Callum for some years both in club and GB guise and welcomed Callum to this important step up in his hockey career:-
“Another long term injury returnee to the ice (hopefully, season dependant) and it was a great shame Callum suffered such a horrific injury last term in such a potentially important season for him.
“It has always been on the cards for Callum to make the jump to Raiders National but having nearly a year out he knows he’s got a lot of work to do to be match fit but I know he is doing what he can.
“Callum has shown a lot of promise over the years and was once a Raiders regular in the old NIHL 1 League at a very young age. He shows a strong aggressive approach in his game, stands up well to stop attacks and strong in his mini battles. Not afraid to block shots and go into the hard areas to win the puck. As you would expect there are a few aspects of the game we will work on with Callum to refine and mould him into a long serving Gold and Blue defender“.
In terms of the teams local and youth policy Sean had an interesting further comment to encourage our youth system.
“We have not been shy this year to give opportunities to our younger players. They have worked hard to get where they are and it has not gone un-noticed. It is so important to the league and the Raiders to be able to have a local team”.
The injury was obviously a major part of Callum’s life last season and he is typically keen to brush it aside and get on with the job in hand. We caught up with him for a chat and found him in enthusiastic mood.
So last week we spoke of Ross Connolly and the injury that kept him out all season. You arguably had an even worse injury with multiple fractures to your wrist in a bit of a freak accident. If it doesn’t make you wince too much talk us through what happened.
“Having spoken to many people about what happened I try now to put it out of mind as I have moved on and want to now focus on the season ahead. However the injury was no-one’s fault, injuries happen and everyone in sport has to deal with that at times. After the game I went to hospital to find I had dislocated my wrist and broken it as well. I was in hospital for most of the next week but I ensured I did the things necessary from then on to be where I am today with the injury.”
It certainly sounded horrific at the time and it seems you were fortunate to get a leading specialist for the repair work. Did you ever consider that hockey may be impossible or unwise in the future? If so did you have any other sports related plans?
“Once I had met with my specialist, Mr Phillip Mathews, who said he would do everything he could to get me back playing again, the thought of hockey not being in my future plans never came to mind. I feel ready and fully prepared to move on with my hockey career. After the injury I used my coaching badge and supported Raiders 2 on the bench as the defensive coach supporting Ben and the team”.
Are you happy the healing process has got you back to where you were pre injury? Do you think either strength or flexibility still needs some work?
“I have been working daily on my fitness and rehab of the injury and the specialist hand Physio has signed me off even with the current Covid situation. Therefore I feel strong and ready for the challenge of playing for Raiders in the National League”.
You have managed to play Rugby at a high level as well as club and GB duties for your ice hockey passion. Does there come a time when you have to focus on one, if nothing else because time is too limited for both?
“I played Rugby only whilst at school as it was part of my schools programme, it was never part of any plan to extend that beyond my time at school. Finishing rugby with a tour of Australia and New Zealand made it well worth while though. My focus now is 100% Raiders National Team”.
Are the plans to try to get into junior GB again?
“My first thoughts are securing my place as a Raiders National Team player and that’s my goal at present if an opportunity comes to play for GB again I would of course consider it as it’s a real special thing to play for your country”.
You were unlucky with the timing of last season’s injury since there was a lot of ice time available in defence last season in the National team. Did you get to see many games last season and what did you think of the new National league?
“I saw the majority of the home games last season and went to support the team as well as being at training sessions going into the gym. The National League looks to be a great standard and I can’t wait to be playing and being part of the Raiders”.
The competition for ice time in the National league is going to be pretty fierce this season so long as everyone stays fit. Are you ready for that battle?
“I am very competitive and more than ready to challenge for my place in the Raiders having been a Raider since I joined a while back now I fully understand the challenge”.
Are there any of your team GB colleagues playing for other National League teams this season that you are aware of?
“There are a few players I believe I have played alongside in the past at GB in the league. I always wish them the best of luck in the careers within the league and at GB. As well as looking forward to playing against them and their teams within the league”.
Welcome back to the Raiders National team Callum. We are all keen to watch your progress!