Seth Barton, a four-star prospect, recently committed to UMass Lowell. He played for the Okanagan Rockets before joining the Trial Smoke Eaters for his first full season in the BCHL. The 18-year-old is a tall, athletic defenseman with four-way mobility and smooth hands.
Neutral Zone chatted with Barton about his youth hockey experience, the BCHL and how he decided to take the college route.
NZ: How and when did you start playing hockey?
SB: Probably the first time I got on skates was around the age of three, and then my parents got me using a stick. As soon as recreational hockey, there’s an association from where I was from, [I joined] as soon as I could join. That’s how it all started. So probably around the age of five is when I started shooting some pucks and just learned how to play with teammates and such.
NZ: What’s your earliest memory from playing hockey?
SB: Probably just skating lessons back around the age of five or six. Just learning how to skate, practicing shots, I found that pretty fun back then. There are a lot of great memories from when I was younger, but that was probably the earliest.
NZ: What was your youth hockey experience like?
SB: I just played the minor hockey in the town where I was from. Just went up year by year. Those were probably the most fun years, just getting into the game, just scoring goals.
NZ: What’s your best on-ice skill?
SB: I’ve always had the smarts, I’ve always had the hockey sense. I really enjoyed my offensive side so just being able to use my smarts to make plays and help my team.
NZ: What area of your game are you working on the most?
SB: From junior hockey to the college level, physicality is a big part. So just the physical strength, which will obviously help the quickness and the change in game the junior level to the college level brings. I’m just working on my physical strength, physical abilities, just skating. I can always improve my skating.
NZ: How did you end up in the BCHL?
SB: I’ve been growing up in the Okanagan, in BC. It’s surrounded by BCHL teams just two hours distance, so it’s always been around me. I’ve been growing up going to their games and I wanted to stick with school and the BCHL was the best junior hockey and probably the fastest way to get to that next level, so I found myself in a pretty good spot and I’m happy with it.
NZ: When did you decide you wanted to go the college route?
SB: I’ve always been pretty serious with my school, so and obviously parents want you to stick with school, they want you to get a degree, to have that just in case hockey doesn’t work out. I probably decided back in bantam, a few years back when you need to figure out your goals and you need to set your goals and find what path you want to take. I think I’ve chosen the right path for me and I’m working as hard as I can to keep hockey going.
NZ: What other schools reached out to you in the NCAA recruiting process and where else did you go on visits?
SB: I talked to a few more Hockey East schools like UConn, Maine, New Hampshire and then there were a few other WCHA schools, but I just really wanted to stick to Hockey East. It’s a really good league and they move a lot of guys on. So that’s when I decided on UMass Lowell. When I went on my fly down, back a couple weeks ago, I went to UMass Lowell first and then I tied that in with going to UConn and when I came back I made my decision. I was happy with my decision and that’s how the process started right there.
NZ: What made you choose UMass Lowell?
SB: They’ve been a very successful program over the last decade. I’m really looking forward to helping the River Hawks achieve more success in the future and I think with what they’ve got there, with the facilities and their unbelievable staff and coach Norm [Bazin], they’re a top school and I really appreciated the interest they had in me and I couldn’t not accept what they offered. And they talked about the education. I really liked their business school and just the opportunities that I could have there. It has really good culture and tradition and, when I went on the visit, that obviously clicked in my head and I just felt like it was the right place for me.
NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?
SB: It would definitely be injuries. Injuries are always the toughest. You want to be out there helping your team, but obviously injuries, serious injuries, they take time and you don’t want to rush what you have. You have your one body and you have to treat it like a temple and that’s what I think I’ve been blessed with. But injuries have been probably the toughest thing. You have to be away from the rink, not being able to play hockey, do the thing you love.
NZ: What’s the worst injury you’ve had?
SB: I’ve had, playing hockey, a couple broken arms. But nothing too serious that kept me out for months and months on end. Concussions are a big issue nowadays and a year back I witnessed what it was like, how that all works and it was obviously not fun.