Not only is Hayden Hulton a distinguished hockey player with the Carleton Ravens men’s hockey team, he is also a positive person who looks on the bright side of life in terms of his success on and off the ice.
Growing up in Kingston, Ontario, on a horse farm, Hulton began skating as soon as he could walk.
“My parents said I instantly fell in love with the ice and with the game of hockey. I was always watching hockey on tv, trying to stay up late, catch every minute of the game as I could, always wanted to go to the rink, my dad played hockey too, so, it ran in the family, it was in my blood from the start,” Hulton said.
Prior to coming to Carleton, Hulton spent time with the Amsterview Jets of the former Empire B Junior C Hockey League (EBJCHL), before spending the majority of three seasons with the Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
While a part of the Jets, Hulton played in 47 career games, recording 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points.
While a part of the Braves, Hulton played in 180 games, recording 37 goals and 54 assists for 91 points.
“I loved my time in Brockville. It’s a small-town community, really tight knit, we had great fan support, and at the time, the owners, the Gill family, they were nothing but great to us. We never had any real successful seasons, but I grew up as a hockey player and as a person,” Hulton said about his time in Brockville.
“And I can’t speak enough great things about my billet family. They took me under their wing and they were a second family to me, and they really helped me develop as a person and as a hockey player,” he added.
In his final season on Brockville, Ravens coaches’ Ryan Medel and Marty Johnston noticed Hulton and began keeping tabs on him throughout the season.
“I had to prove myself, and at the end of the year they offered me a spot, so I weighed my options, came to a few Carleton games, looked at the university, saw a great hockey program, good facilities, and the coaching staff and the players were awesome, and it was also close to home, so it seemed like a really good fit for me as a player and as a person,” Hulton said about his decision to come to Carleton.
Throughout his five years at Carleton, Hulton played in 124 career games, recording 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points.
“Definitely both national appearances have been really special moments. Especially beating out McGill and UQTR this year, something that’s never been done, and previously beating out McGill again to win two bronze medals, not the color we wanted to win, but still an achievement of its own,” Hulton said about his most memorable moment as a Raven.
Despite not producing big numbers for the Ravens, Hulton’s successes and leadership led to him being named Ravens captain for the 2018-19 season.
“I was very honored. It was a very big honor for me to be named captain, especially when you look down the list at the previous captains at Carleton, I’m touched just to be in the same sentence as some of those guys,” Hulton said.
“And especially to come in as a junior A player. Most of these guys have played major junior, some have been to the Memorial Cup, won OHL championships, so to be given the opportunity to lead a group of major junior players is a great honor, and I’m really thankful that they did choose me, and it’s something that I will never forget,” he added.
Like many athletes, Hulton has faced many challenges and adversities in his hockey career, both mentally and physically.
One such adversity he faced was when he sustained a high ankle sprain in game one of the Queen’s Cup Eastern semi-final series against the Queen’s Gaels. This injury kept Hulton out of playing in his final few games as a Raven.
“It was definitely very tough. I mean, it’s not one of the toughest things I’ve gone through in my life, but it’s definitely one of them for sure. I mean, instantly you think you can play, but then once you can’t all the emotions run through your body. You’re thinking the worst, you know, when am I going to get back, and if I can get back,” Hulton said.
“And, as a leader of the boys, as a fifth-year captain, I felt like I was letting my teammates down by not being there, and it was very, very tough mentally to go through that,” he added.
Hulton has also faced many other challenges where he’s been told he’s too small, told he’s not good enough for a team, and told he’s not fast enough, but because of everyone telling him these things, Hulton has grown as a player and as a person to leap around these obstacles.
“I’ve gone through lots of ups and downs, battled lots of adversity with school, with family issues, with hockey as well, with injuries, winning, losing,” Hulton said.
“If you never battled through adversity you don’t know how to handle it, and there’s right and wrong ways to handle it, I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned throughout my career at Carleton, is how to appropriately act on and off the ice,” he added.
And in terms of all the adversities, the sport of hockey has taught Hulton many valuable life lessons that he will cherish.
“I think hockey has probably taught me everything. In my second year I went through some pretty tough times. I lost my mother, my dad also went through cancer treatments the same summer, and the support I had from my teammates, staff, and faculty members at Carleton, that’s something I will never forget,” Hulton said.
“Those lessons on how much friends and teammates mean to you, especially going through tough times, makes you be there for other people as well, and it really makes you realize how much of a family Carleton hockey is, and no matter what you’re going through, when you come to the rink, you’re still another guy and the people put a smile on your face and they help you battle any type of adversity,” he added.
Deciding to go down the student athlete road has helped out in the long run, because if hockey doesn’t turn into a career after Carleton, Hulton can always turn to his degree of Honors in Environmental Studies that he has in his pocket.
And as for the future in regards to hockey, Hulton is hoping he’ll get the chance to play pro.
“I hope to continue to stay in the game in one way or another as long as I possibly can. Whether I get the opportunity to be a pro hockey player and continue playing then that’s my number one priority. If not, I would love to start coaching, not sure at what level I will get the opportunity to,” Hulton said.
“And even at Carleton, I’d love to stay involved. I’ve learned things I’ve learned from coaching staff, from Shaun Van Allen and Mark Cavallin and Marty Johnston, Joey Manley, the things they’ve taught me. I’ve seen both sides of being on the ice and also in the coaching staff lately as well, they’ve kind of took me under their wing with my injury and allowed me to be a part of some decision making and see what goes on in the coaching side. So, it’s something that has definitely piqued interest for me, and something I hope to pursue later,” he added.