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Seal brings northern and southern influence to LSSU
Jan. 8, 2003
By Lindsey Mechalik
LSSU Sports Information student intern
For most Canadian-born players on Lake Superior State hockey team, college is their first experience living in the United States. For sophomore forward Derek Seal, Sault Ste. Marie is the fifth American town in which he has lived.
Seal was born in Sudbury, Ont., and lived in Toronto from ages four through 11. His father changed jobs and moved the family to Dallas, Texas, where his family currently resides. When he first arrived in Dallas, he was confronted with a lower standard of hockey after having a wide range of programs to play for in Toronto.
The Dallas area offered only one or two teams per age group, but Seal quickly made new friends and loved playing hockey with his new teammates. When the National Hockey League moved the Stars from Minnesota to Dallas in 1992, hockey expanded in the area. There were more opportunities for youth players.
"When I moved to Dallas I wasn't sure where I was going to play hockey," Seal said. "They did not have the amount of teams I was used to in Toronto. At my first practice everyone made me feel welcome. They had heard that a Canadian guy was coming to play. I made friends, many of whom I still keep in contact."
Seal enjoys life in Dallas, especially the great weather and lack of snow to shovel. During the Christmas break he visited his family and former teammates, and welcomed the 70-degree temperatures. Although he has lived in the United States since he was 11 years old, he still considers himself Canadian. He retains Canadian citizenship, but holds permanent residency in the U.S.
Seal's father, Fred, works as a director of manufacturing for a roofing company. His mother, Penny, works for the Hyatt Regency. Seal has two older sisters who live in Dallas. All of Seal's extended family reside in Ontario.
Fred Seal played semi-pro hockey in the Ontario Hockey League and encouraged his son to play as a child. Hockey is a sport passed down through the generations in his family as his grandfather also played.
Seal has been playing hockey since he was four years old and hopes to keep playing hockey after he graduates from LSSU. His hockey highlight came at age 10 when his team won the Silverstick Tournament.
"Winning the Silverstick Tournament was really special because it happened the year before we moved to Dallas," Seal said. "It was something great to remember Toronto by. It's a really great honor to win the same tournament that hockey greats like Steve Yzerman also won as a child. I still have my pin."
Prior to playing for Lake Superior State, Seal played four years of Junior A hockey. He played his first two seasons with the Maine Snow Devils. During his third season, the team relocated to New Hampshire and Seal was named captain. Seal completed his junior career with the Walpole Junior Stars of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. He was named the 2000-01 offensive player of the year.
Seal chose Lake Superior State because of the reputation of its hockey program and the personal touch in academics. He enjoys the small class sizes and the ability to get to know and relate to his professors. One of the things he enjoys about Sault Ste. Marie is the weather in the late spring and summer. He finds the temperature refreshing compared to the extreme heat of the Dallas summers.
Last summer Seal played on a men's team in Dallas that won the league championship. He worked at a hockey camp established by retired Dallas Star player Brent Severyn and worked for his dad at the roofing company. Seal followed the Lakers' off-season workout plan and also had a personal trainer to help with encouragement. He wanted to come into his second season at LSSU in better shape.
"Last year I struggled defensively," Seal said. "I was used to the Eastern Junior Hockey League that mainly emphasizes offensive hockey. In order to play Division I college hockey I have really needed to improve my defensive game. I focused on that this summer and work on it every game."
When he's not playing hockey, Seal enjoys playing the drums and the guitar. Seal, along with former LSSU basketball player Quentin Hunt, put together a 12-song set and performed in the Peacock Cove on campus at the conclusion of the school year. Hunt played the guitar and Seal accompanied him on the drums.
Seal is majoring in business at Lake Superior State. His other hobbies are golf and working out. After graduation, he hopes to continue playing hockey and hopes to perhaps play in Europe. He knows that hockey will always be a large part of his life. After he concludes playing hockey, he will rely on his business degree to help him get a job perhaps similar to his father's.
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey