The Trail Smoke Eaters announced another high-end commitment from the BC Major Midget League (BCMML) on Tuesday.
BCMML’s Okanagan Rockets’ defenceman and Kelowna native Seth Barton committed to play for the Smoke Eaters next season. The 17-year-old, six-foot-two, 175-pound blue-liner played in 35 games with the Rockets last season and tallied 11 goals and 38 points, good for fourth best among BCMML defencemen.
“He (Barton) was very highly recruited by a lot of different teams, but he’s seen what has happened in Trail and is very good friends with (Smoke Eater forward) Ryan Moon … so it kind of went from there,” said Smoke Eaters coach and GM Cam Keith. “Seth was one of the leading scorers in the MML this year, he’s big, he shoots the puck, and is a really good character kid.”
Barton played his minor hockey in Kelowna and two seasons with the Rockets. The highly touted blue-liner was an affiliate player for the Nanaimo Clippers last season, playing in two games with the Clips, and always had an eye on taking his game to the Jr. A level.
“The Jr. A route, it just gives a bit more development, bit more of a stepping stone to get to the NCAA,” Barton said in an interview earlier this year. “So I can get my schooling done while still playing hockey and playing the game I love.”
Keith had scouted Barton throughout the season, but was unable to speak with him until his affiliation with the Clippers ended. When that happened, the Smokies coach and GM seized the opportunity and, helped by Barton’s friendship with Moon, the commitment was completed.
Barton’s decision to join the Smoke Eaters, much like Cariboo Cougars forward Daine Dubois’, is a strong indication that the recruiting process for the Smoke Eaters has turned a corner. With the new ownership and front office staff in place, a competitive season under their collective belts, and improvements to the Trail Memorial Centre’s facilities, Trail is moving into a better position to compete for players.
“We’re definitely starting to spin in the right direction here because we are picking up kids that are not passed over, they’re highly sought after,” said Keith.