The Trail Smoke Eaters continue to build for the future, as the team announced outgoing and incoming commitments this past week.
Trail defenceman Seth Barton committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for the 2019-20 season, meaning the smooth-skating defenceman has another year in the orange-and-black before joining the NCAA, and will be around for highly-touted 16-year-old forward Sean Donaldson, who the Smokies committed last week.
Barton, the Smoke Eaters’ 18-year-old rookie, has been a solid addition to the blue line scoring four goals and 14 points in 20 games this season. The six-foot-two Kelowna native was signed by the Smokies in May after playing two season with the BC Major Midget League’s Kelowna Rockets where he contributed 38 points in 34 games from the point last season.
The commitment to UMass-Lowell is the first of the season, and almost certainly won’t be the last as Trail’s rookie contingent continues to impress.
The Smoke Eaters commitment of the highly sought after Donaldson is another big signing for Trail. The five-foot-10 forward plays for the Burnaby Winter Club Midget Prep squad of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) where he leads the team in goals (11) and is fourth in points with 20 in 17 games.
Donaldson visited Trail earlier this season when he suited up as an AP in the Smokies home game against Powell River on Oct. 15.
“Getting up to Trail was an awesome experience,” Donaldson said in a Smoke Eater release. “Seeing the amazing facilities first hand, as well as getting a feel for the historic town. Playing in that building in front of the best fans in the BCHL really gave an extra drive and excitement to play. That opportunity gave me a great taste of what the league is like and showed me the work that I have to do in the next ten months to come in to the league as an impact players next season.”
While not official, the Smoke Eaters are also interested in AP Bryce Anderson, 16, who scored two goals for the Smokies on their recent three game road swing to Vancouver Island last weekend. The Whitehorse product also plays in the CSSHL with the Yale Hockey Academy and and has eight goals and 24 points in 14 games this season.
“It’s a testament to the direction we’re going,” said Smoke Eaters coach Cam Keith. “Usually these kids are automatically going to Chilliwack (Chiefs). All the top kids in the Yale program instantly go to Chilliwack, the other academies push to Penticton or Vernon … he (Anderson) can have the pick of the litter where he wants to go. Same thing with Donaldson, we’re getting these high-end kids now that we would never be able to. We still want to use our local resources, but the truth is, we have to look at those other markets … just to stay competitive.”