Burns’ stampede to Sweden


Queenstown ice hockey star Callum Burns is blazing a trail to Europe.

The Southern Stampede and Ice Blacks player jetted to Sweden on Tuesday for seven months of overseas hockey.

Fresh from Stampede’s Birgel Cup victory, the 18-year-old will spend a season with Leksand Idrottsforening’s under-20 team, in the town of Leksand, in the hockey-mad country.

“It’s going to be a high level of hockey for me,” Burns says.

“As a young kid I always wanted to play overseas hockey, it’s been a dream, so the fact I’ve got the opportunity to go is really exciting.

“It’s sort of crept up on me I’m going to another country for seven months. I can’t even pronounce the name of the team.

“But it’ll be great to get my foot in the door.”

Burns landed the opportunity through contacts from Stampede imports.

Greg Collins and Jade Portwood’s goals and assists helped propel Stampede towards the national title, while things were kept tight at the back by defenceman Lucas Frey, who plays professional hockey in Sweden.

Burns, who’s a forward, says: “Obviously the highlight was winning the championship but throughout the season having the opportunity to play with Greg and Jade, I’ve managed to learn a lot from those guys.

“Just the calibre of their skill and professionalism.”

The youngster’s been with the Ice Black senior squad for two years, and donned the jersey last weekend in a friendly against Southern Stampede, losing 8-7.

He was also selected for the South Island team for Skate of Origin the following night, losing 9-7.

But both losses are unlikely to have dulled the sensation of winning the championship, beating Canterbury Red Devils 4-3 in the decider.

“No doubt I was feeling the pressure,” he says.

“It was a really close game that’s good to be a part of if you come out on top.”