It’s tough to beat Riley Barber’s hockey pedigree. The Washington Capitals’ sixth-round pick (167th overall) in the 2012 draft, Barber was born to a figure skating coach and a former NHL player. With roots in hockey-crazed Pittsburgh, he grew up a rabid Penguins fan and was in the stands for their Stanley Cup-clinching victory in 2009. His mother, Stacy, coached figure skating for five hours a day. She would bring Riley, the oldest of her three children, to the rink with her every day. Though he was still honing his walking skills when he joined her on the ice for the first time, it wasn’t long before Riley was skating alongside, and even keeping up with, the “big kids.” But while his skating was comparable, Barber differed from his mother’s figure skating pupils in one significant way: “He always had a stick in his hand,” Stacy Barber said. That was his father Don’s territory. Like his son, Don Barber played college hockey (for Bowling Green) and was a sixth-round selection, taken 120th overall in the 1983 draft by the Edmonton Oilers. Also a right wing, he went on to play parts of four seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques and San Jose Sharks. Don helped Riley master the game as he ascended the youth ranks, giving him tutelage that helped him become the No. 1 overall pick in the junior U.S. Hockey League draft in 2010. When NHL draft day came around two years later, he had an important message for his son: “He told me on Day One, ‘It’s not where you’re drafted, it’s what you do after,’ ” Riley said. “I really took that to heart.” As his family exchanged their Penguins gear for rival Capitals colors (his mother said they still watch the Penguins, though “we’re Capitals fans now”), Riley got to work. A few months after the draft, he headed to camp with the U.S. national team’s development program and made the roster for the 2013 world junior championship in Russia. The 23-man roster featured 12 first- or second-round NHL draft picks. Playing on the top line along with Alex Galchenyuk, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft who saw time with the Montreal Canadiens last season, Barber scored three goals in the tournament. The Americans won the gold medal. From there Barber headed to Miami of Ohio, where Coach Rico Blasi saw enough in his 19-year-old freshman (young by college hockey standards) to feature him on the RedHawks’ top line. Barber became the nation’s top freshman scorer on his way to being named first-team all conference and his league’s rookie of the year.
Capitals prospect Riley Barber builds on hockey and skating pedigree
Washington Post | Jul 13