Typically flying under the radar, Buffalo Beauts defender Jordyn Burns has been the teams’ steadiest defender the past two seasons. While she is an NWHL player who has never been in the limelight, her defensive capabilities are respected league-wide. Enough so that Burns was named to the 2018 NWHL All-Star Game and attended the festivities in her native Minnesota.
Word of her re-signing with the Beauts was announced on Aug. 1, 2018. This will be Burns’ third straight year with the team. She is a reliable blueliner, an NCAA champion, an NWHL All-Star, and an Isobel Cup champion, but there is one thing that Jordyn Burns does not yet have – her first professional goal. Burns intends to change that during the 2018-19 season.
THW caught up with Burns shortly after she had re-signed. We asked for her thoughts as the Beauts are readying themselves for the league’s fourth season. We also endeavored to get to know this quieter, humble defender a bit more off the ice too.
The Possibility of Playing in Minnesota
Many speculated that after the announcement was made that the Minnesota Whitecaps would be the fifth team added to the NWHL, that Burns and a number of Minnesota natives would likely sign with the new squad. After all, the 25-year-old defender – who will turn 26 before the regular season commences – is originally from Chanhassen in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and played the majority of her college hockey in her home state. Playing two seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, Burns helped the team win the 2013 NCAA Championship.
NWHLers Lee Stecklein, Amanda Kessel, Hannah Brandt and former Beauts teammate Amanda Leveille were all members of that same team too. Seeing as that Stecklein, Brandt and Leveille have now all signed with the Whitecaps, it would have made sense for Burns to follow suit. As it turns out, the defender has actually grown quite comfortable and accustomed to living in Buffalo.
“When originally moving from Minnesota to Buffalo I didn’t know what to expect,” Burns shared. “I was fortunate enough to have moved into a great area in north Buffalo which allowed me to explore. Buffalo has a lot to offer for everyone, but the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is all the different restaurants and breweries. New restaurants, or old ones I haven’t been to yet, are always popping up and I love going to check them out. I have a list of all the restaurants and breweries I need to go visit.”
Buffalo has definitely become more of a secondary home for her. It is certain that Burns can also enjoy a return to Minnesota when the Beauts play the Whitecaps on the road at the very end of October 2018.
The Consummate Veteran Player
Burns has 30 regular season NWHL games under her belt, plus four postseason contests too. A veteran of two whole seasons in the league now, she will be one of the players whom Buffalo looks to lead this team. Especially if the Beauts are to make another stab at the Isobel Cup. Buffalo is presently riding a streak of being the only team to make the Cup Final for each season since the NWHL began. Burns has been a key contributor to that, winning the 2016 Isobel Cup with the Beauts in her rookie season.
Forwards Annika Zalewski, Juls Iafallo, and Dani Cameranesi, goaltender Nicole Hensley and defender Savannah Harmon are all Beauts rookies this coming season. Even 32-year-old goalie Shannon Szabados – who is certainly no rookie when looking at her résumé of experience – is playing her first NWHL season. Zalewski, Iafallo, and Harmon are all joining the team straight from college. Burns will be integral in helping all of those players adapt to the NWHL, particularly a youngster like Harmon who could easily become her defense partner.
“I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed at times with the stage you’re now playing on,” Burns explained. “We’re playing women’s professional hockey, a thought that was never there for us as little girls. So my advice is enjoy it, soak it up, we all know how to play hockey, and well enough to be in this position. Our skill and love for the game has brought us so many opportunities, and now we are privileged enough grow the game at this level, creating those opportunities and dreams that weren’t there for us.”
Wise words indeed from the veteran to the newcomers. As for the goaltenders like Szabados and Hensley, Burns is relishing the opportunity to play in front of them and Beauts tertiary goalie Julia DiTondo.
“Going into the 2018-2019 season with three solid goalies is definitely a blessing as a defender,” Burns stated. “Knowing that any one of them is backing us up gives a sense of security. Defense is a game of mistakes, and unfortunately we all make them at some point. Having Szabados, Hensley and DiTondo makes that mistake more of an ‘oops’ followed by a great save.”
Expectations for Herself in 2018-19
There are a fairly large number of attributes that make Burns an effective defender. Some are more subtle than others, but she certainly possesses her own bag of defensive tricks in order to stymie the opposition. Anyone following the NWHL the past two seasons would have to acknowledge that Burns could possibly be the league’s best stay-at-home defender. She plays that role remarkably well. Her 14 blocked shots in 15 regular season games for Buffalo this past season tied her with captain Corinne Buie for the second most on the team. They also placed Burns within the league’s top-10 players for that category as well.
“I think one of my best characteristics as a hockey player is my ability to see the ice,” she told us. “This is a huge component as a defensemen – your ability to see the ice and read and react accordingly, and correctly, makes the job easier. Being a more ‘defensive D’ has allowed me to really fine tune this skill.”
Within Burns’ 30 regular season games she has four assists to her credit – a pair in each of her previous seasons. We mentioned earlier that Burns is endeavoring to put home her first tally as a professional player this coming season. While she will certainly not be shirking any of her defensive responsibilities, she does have a mindset going into this new season that could see her be more of a factor offensively.
“I have definitely set expectations for myself going into this season,” Burns mentioned. “In previous seasons I’ve taken on the role of being a very defensive-defenseman, but this year I’d like to start being more active in the offensive zone. Hopefully this season will bring me my first NWHL goal.”
A “Fun Fact” About Burns
Considering that at least to the public Burns is outwardly a quieter player, THW could not forgo the opportunity to ask her something unrelated to hockey. In an effort for Beauts fans and NWHL fans to get to know her better, we asked Burns for a “fun fact” about her that most fans would not already know. She definitely surprised us with her answer, as it was not something one would consider of when thinking of hockey players.
— NWHL (@NWHL) January 23, 2018
“A fun fact that most people don’t know is that I’m scuba certified,” she said. “I became scuba certified about four years ago. I only have a few logged dives but I’m hoping to be able to dive more once I decide to hang up the skates. Eventually I’d love to dive with sharks!”
While there are no sharks in Western New York, Buffalonians are certainly glad that Burns decided to return to the Beauts for a third straight year. Rest assured that if the Beauts make another run at the Isobel Cup – which at least on paper it appears as if they will – Burns will be a primary reason that it takes shape. We also hope that she gets that elusive first goal along the way too.