Barker, a power forward with great size, strength, will add bite to Flames’ attack


At 6-feet, 2-inches, 205 pounds, Ontario native Brad Barker, whose older brother Greg threw threw discus on Liberty’s Track & Field team, is a hard-hitting enforcer on the ice.

A bruising left wing on the ice for the Wellington Dukes in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), Liberty University ACHA Division I men’s hockey forward recruit Brad Barker — who committed to join the Flames in the fall during last week’s Select Camp at the LaHaye Ice Center — is also a power fast-pitch softball pitcher for the Simcoe Braves in southern Ontario.

“Softball has been great cross-training for me growing up, and it is definitely a nice change of scenery to play other sports and strengthen other muscles in my body to be best prepared for the hockey season,” he said. “I hit in fast-pitch, too, and that strengthens those muscles as well.”

Barker, 20, competed on Canada’s bronze-medal-winning U-18 National Team at the Pan America Championship in Colombia in September.

“That was a pretty cool experience, as we were down there for three weeks,” he said. “Men’s fast-pitch softball is not as big as girls, but it is pretty competitive at the world level.”

Brad Barker dons a Flames’ jersey after his verbal commitment.

However, hockey is still Barker’s first priority, noting that though he also plays baseball in the summer months, he will cut his season short to join the Flames’ preseason camp in August.

After being selected to the OJHL’s Top Prospects Game during his rookie year with the Markham Royals in 2021-22 and ending this past season with the Dukes, Barker is eager to launch his collegiate career with the Flames.

“I have always just loved the game, and being the youngest of four, both of my brothers played hockey when I was young, and I was always playing out in the streets with whoever I could play with,” Barker said. “Throughout my three years in the OJHL, I developed as a hockey player to get me to this next level to play in college. I am thankful to my parents and siblings for what great supporters they have been throughout my whole hockey career. I am definitely excited to play out my dream of playing university hockey, and it will be pretty cool to live out my dream at Liberty in a Christian environment.”

He visited Liberty’s Select Camp for the second consecutive spring and accepted Head Coach Kirk Handy‘s offer on Friday, after gaining a greater sense of anticipation for all that life at Liberty will afford him.

“It was awesome, really cool to tour the campus and attend Convocation,” said Barker, whose older brother, Greg, threw the discus for Liberty’s NCAA Division I Track & Field program for one season before switching to Liberty University Online Programs. “Camp was really competitive this year, and it was fun to get on the ice with those cool players and to get a chance to see the facilities and meet some of the associate coaches and other staff, who were all very nice and welcoming. I was only there for three days and I’ve made great friendships. The guys have welcomed me in and been nothing but great to me.”

That included Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Angie Witt and Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Performance Chris Kerr.

“I heard (Kerr) talk at the coaches’ panel last year, and it was very cool to listen to his knowledge of explosiveness training and other training needed to perform at the highest level,” said Barker, who is considering pursuing a degree through the School of Business or a B.S. in Strength & Conditioning.

At 6-foot, 2-inches tall, 205 pounds, size and strength are two of Barker’s greatest assets as a player.

“I bring a big, physical game, a big, physical presence on the ice,” he said. “I do have a very good, strong shot, but I mainly focus on playing hard and making plays. I like to finish my hits. I don’t take too many penalties. I like to make good plays at a high level in a physical game, and I am not afraid to go to the corners.”

He expects the transition from the OJHL to the ACHA game to be a smooth one.

“It will be a jump, playing at a higher pace with more skilled and older guys, but it will be a good jump for me as well, and I know I can play at this level,” Barker said. “I am hoping to do the best that I can and help the team win a national championship. That’s the end goal.”

More importantly, he is looking forward to being discipled in his spiritual walk and becoming a stronger man of God both on and off the ice.

“My family grew up in the church, and I am very strong in my faith, so I am excited to be led in the hockey world by a Christian coaching staff as well as Christian teammates,” Barker said. “Playing at a Christian school at such a high level of hockey, I am excited to grow in my faith here at Liberty and make some new Christian friends. The spiritual aspect of the sport is a huge encouragement.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer