“Fearsome Young Sharks” Prospect Profile – Justin Sefton

Photo courtesy of Alexander Zimmermann {@Alex_Z_Sharkie}

With the 89th overall pick in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the San Jose Sharks selected defenseman Justin Sefton of the OHL Sudbury Wolves.

“I like to pattern myself after guys like {Dion} Phaneuf {of Toronto} and {Philadelphia‘s Chris} Pronger,” said Sefton in an interview with Tony Khing for a June 25 article on the Sharks website.  “I’m a big physical guy.  I like to move the puck quick with good hard passes.  I’m working on my speed to get my game quicker.”

Originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., Sefton knew at an early age that hockey was in his heart and didn’t hesitate to choose the game over soccer.

“When I was younger, watching a couple of games on television, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Sefton in an interview with Patrick Demers for a 2009 Sudbury Star article.  “I wanted to be the one playing on television.”

At age 11, Sefton was noticed by a few people and offered a chance to play hockey in western Canada, an opportunity that Sefton pounced on.  After a season in western Canada, Sefton played in Las Vegas, Duluth and Minneapolis.  

Rather than return home to Thunder Bay at the conclusion of his time in Minn., Sefton took his talents to the highly regarded Athol Murray College of Notre Dame of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in order to avoid costly off-ice distractions.

“Coming from Thunder Bay, people think of the Staal family,” said Sefton in an interview with Ryan Kennedy for an Oct. 2008 thehockeynews.com article.  “It’s a great place to be, but there are issues that I was glad to get away from, too – gangs and things like that.”

Located in the village of Wilcox, Saks. {population 200-plus}, and famous for producing NHLers such as Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Rod Brind’Amour and Curtis Joseph, Notre Dame provides rigid structure to teens such as Sefton with a three-pronged mandate that focuses on spirituality, education and hockey.

“Our college is bigger than the town, it’s what kids do here,” said Hounds coach and Director of Hockey Development Del Pedrick in the Kennedy article.  “It allows them to focus; there’s no mall, no 7-11 – it’s a bit of a throwback, just a nice prairie town.”

In addition to the rigors of hockey practice and attending classes, Sefton’s typical days at Notre Dame included hitting the gym after school, participating in mandatory study period after dinner, and hanging out at the rink until curfew, which was 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on weekends.

As a result of spending countless hours in and around the ice at Notre Dame, Sefton developed an all-around game that included shot-blocking, scoring and punishing anyone who crossed him.

Sefton’s two years at Notre Dame was highlighted by the Hounds winning the Telus Cup Canadian midget AAA Championship in 2009.

“That was, so far, my biggest accomplishment,” said Sefton in the Demers article.  “That taught me the drive and effort it took to win a championship.  It was a very emotional moment for us guys.  As a young team, we put our heads together and we pulled off what we’ve been working on all season.  We all had the same goal, from the players to the coaching staff right to the bus driver.”

A week after finishing final exams at Notre Dame, Sefton flew from Thunder Bay to Sudbury to be officially introduced to the Sudbury Wolves, who drafted Sefton fifth overall in the 2009 OHL Draft.

Lacking a solid defensive unit on the blue line at the time, Sefton’s size and physical play made him an easy selection for the Wolves, who were shocked that Sefton was still available at the fifth pick.

“We feel really fortunate that we have selected him in the first round and have a chance to bring him to Sudbury,” said then Wolves assistant coach Bryan Verreault in the Demers article.  “He’s a player that’s really going to help us and his teammates.”

In his rookie season for the Wolves, Sefton registered seven points on one goal and six assists in 65 games played to go along with 83 penalty minutes.  Unfortunately, the Wolves 2009-10 season ended on a downer as they were swept in the first round of the OHL Playoffs by the top seeded Barrie Colts.  While disappointed, Sefton used the four game sweep as a learning experience.

“We played Barrie six times during the season and only won once – which is a little discouraging,” said Sefton in an interview with The Mayor for a Sept. 2010 hockeyindependent.com article.  “We were clearly the underdogs.  I just tried to keep my composure and take it all in.  I learned as the playoffs go on the games only get harder.  You can’t take a shift off.  If you do, you’re going to get scored on or something bad is going to happen.”

Entering the 2010-11 season as a top prospect for the NHL Draft, Sefton took several large strides in his game that saw him register a career high 11 points on a career five goals and six assists in 66 games played while excelling as a shutdown defenseman alongside defensive partner Frank Corrado, who was drafted in the fifth round {150th overall} by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

“Yeah, when there’s only a few minutes left and the coach gives you that tap on the shoulder and says, ‘Get going,’ that’s a great feeling,” said Sefton in an interview with Ben Leeson for a June 23 Sudbury Star article.

A major reason for Sefton’s breakout season was that he felt he became a more well-rounded defenseman.

“I learned to pick my spots better, learned to make a better first pass,” said Sefton in the Leeson article.  “I think I was calmer with the puck and learned to show more poise, which you need if you want to make the next level.”

On a team that lacked grit and genuine tough guys, Sefton emerged as the Wolves physical force as he led all Wolves with 124 penalty minutes.

“We were a bit of a young team with a lot of young guys,” said Sefton in the Leeson article.  “We had Marcus Foligno {captain}, but you want a guy like him on the ice.  You don’t want him to have to do that all the time.  And you want the other older guys, like Mike Lomas and Eric O’Dell, on the ice, too.  I didn’t go looking for it, but if it has to be done, then it has to be done.”

Sefton’s hard work paid off as he cracked the NHL Central Scouting final rankings of North American skaters {89th} released in April after being passed over in both the preliminary and mid-term rankings which were released in Nov. and Jan. respectively.

“It’s nice to see that hard work pay off,” said Sefton in the Leeson article.  “Sure, I wish I was higher but you take what you can get and try to learn from whatever mistakes you made.”

Sefton’s hard work and improvement didn’t go unnoticed by the Wolves as he was the recipient of the Gord Ewin Most Improved honours award at the team luncheon on April 14.

Expected to return to the Wolves for the 2011-12 season along with fellow teammates and close friends Michael Sgarbossa {another Sharks prospect} and Corrado, Sefton told Leeson he has big expectations of himself and the team.

“I think this will fire all of us up even more, to comeback and put up big points as a team and work toward winning a championship in Sudbury.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Justin Sefton knocks out David Broll  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with David Broll of the Soo Greyhounds and knocks him out!  March 1, 2011.

Justin Sefton fights Mike Halmo  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Mike Halmo of the Owen Sound Attack on Jan. 16, 2010.

Justin Sefton fights Robert Farmer  {Courtesy of YouTuber user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Robert Farmer of the Ottawa 67’s on Sept. 25, 2010.

Justin Sefton fights Tom Wilson  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Tom Wilson of the Plymouth Whalers on  Nov. 5, 2010.

Justin Sefton fights Derek Schoenmakers  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Derek Schoenmakers of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors on Dec. 17, 2010.

Justin Sefton fights Stephon Thorne  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Stephon Thorne of the Brampton Battalion on Dec. 19, 2010.

Justin Sefton fights Michael Latta  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Michael Latta of the Guelph Storm on Jan. 29, 2011.

Justin Sefton fights Derek Mathers  {Courtesy of YouTube use “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Derek Mathers of the Peterborough Petes on Feb. 5, 2011.

Justin Sefton fights Craig Hottot  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JoeKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Craig Hottot of the Sarina Sting on Feb. 21, 2011.

Justin Sefton fights Austen Brassard  {Courtesy of YouTube user “JimKorn20”}
In this video clip, Sefton drops the gloves with Austen Brassard of the Belleville Bulls on March 19, 2011.

*Videos and information were used from sharks.nhl.com, www.hockeyindependent.com, www.thehockeynews.com, www.thesudburystar.com, www.hockeydb.com and www.youtube.com.*

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About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on July 10, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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