Raiders blueliner Burnett getting right back on track following a tough break
PUBLISHED: 16:00 10 April 2020
Young Raiders defenceman Callum Burnett saw his 2019/20 season cut short by a nasty wrist injury in November, but is looking forward to getting back on the ice as soon as possible.
Burnett, 19, was hurt during a National League Division One South match against Slough Jets at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre, but is well along the road to recovery and focusing on a return to action.
He said: “I hit someone else and my wrist went into the back of them and I ended up dislocating my thumb, wrist and shattering my wrist at the same time.
“I went to the bench and said to Ben (Pitchley) ‘I need to get off, something’s not right’, and I saw Dan Hitchings in the dressing room, put my thumb back in, and it still didn’t look right.
“So I went to Queen’s and found out it was a lot worse. They said I might have to stay the night and I ended up having a six-hour operation that week and spent two and a half weeks in hospital recovering, because of all the metal and wires.”
Burnett had a choice of having his wrist pinned, which would mean he couldn’t move it back and would have to stop playing, or have two bolts inserted to hold the bones together and screwed to the ulna, to ensure range of motion and a chance to play again.
It was a no-brainer and he adds: “It’s a lot better now. I’m in a training programme, lifting weights to gain strength and range of motion. I’ve got a gym set up in the garden and I’m in touch with my hand therapist as I can’t go into hospital at the moment.
“I can move about and stickhandle in the garage, it’s nice to hold a stick again. I will have to strap it up but as I get stronger and more used to it, I will adapt how I play. It’s nothing I can’t handle.”
Despite being without their influential presence on the blue line, Raiders won five games in a row in December, but then lost 10 out of 11 in the new year, before a penalty shoot-out win at Oxford.
That proved to be their last match as the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Burnett made the most of his watching brief.
He said: “It was frustrating watching games, but I used my coaching badge properly and helped the coaches, giving input so they could still benefit from having lost a player on the ice.
“When standing on the bench watching you get a different perspective and question why we do things. It helped a whole lot. I spent a lot of time speaking to the other assistant coach, which was nice to do, and learnt a lot. I can see why we get told a lot of the stuff we do.
“It gave me time to sit back and think. I know if I stick to my rehab, stay disciplined, I will get back. I’ve got to be patient.”
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Burnett began playing ice hockey at the old Rom Valley Way rink and when that closed in 2013 he joined the Slough under-16s, where Pitchley was among the coaching staff.
After turning 16, he made his senior debut for the then-named London Raiders in 2017, scoring his first goal in a match against Bracknell.
He made a further 43 appearances for the senior side over the course of the next two campaigns, while proving a key member of the newly-formed second team and being made assistant captain.
Burnett also won 10 caps for the Great Britain under-18s at the World Championships, winning Division Two gold, and had played 18 more times in gold and blue this term before suffering his cruel break.
But he was pleased to remain part of the game-day experience, adding: “There’s always a good atmosphere, we’re good friends.
“The season ended correctly as we put in the maximum effort to beat Oxford, a more senior, experienced team. It meant a lot and we finally clicked with players realising they have to put in their shift and do their job.
“It was really nice to watch. Our imports did their thing and everyone followed the system and did their thing.
“It showed the development process as we beat Oxford in pre-season, had a dip midway through and it was nice it ended that way. It’s about understanding and getting a grasp on how you win games.”
Former Campion pupil Burnett still has some work to do before he can put his full kit on once again, but has four months of an extended off-season to get there.
And he is keeping level-headed about what the short-term future might hold, adding: “I’m ahead of schedule already with rehab. Your bones grow back quicker when you’re younger.
“I was back on the ice before the lockdown, passing the puck about and I’m looking forward to going back to see how much better it is.
“I’ve popped my shoulder and knee before and you get the power back over time. I’ve got to be patient, I can’t rush as I’ve seen it only gets worse. I’ll be back at the right time and be better in the long run.
“I’d like to get back into the Raiders with a regular slot, but I’ve had a setback and it will affect that.
“I know what I need to do, I’ve had the right advice and have still been doing cardio to stay fit, to be as ready as I can be. I want to work my way back and be a regular face.
“GB is always another level up. I love it, but I’ve got to make sure I’m ready for Raiders first.”
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