Big decision ahead for young hockey phenom

Kenn Oliver
Published on March 7, 2014

For most of his minor hockey career, Adam Dawe has been ahead of the curve.

In his first year of novice hockey over a decade ago, the Gander native scored 19 of his team’s 22 goals in a pair of tournament games against a team from Twillingate. He assisted on the other three goals.

“We were almost embarrassed,” says his father, Dwight. “It wasn’t fair to the kids he was playing with and the kids he was playing against.”

It wasn’t long after that young Dawe began playing in the Gander Minor Hockey Association’s atom house league — two years before he was of atom age — and before the season was out, he was promoted to the B team.

“He wasn’t allowed to play on the atom A team, even though he was ranked second in the association,” says Dwight.

Dawe went on to play four years of atom, and during that stretch signed up with Xtreme Hockey in St. John’s, which led to an invite to join the New Brunswick Novice Selects team.

“They only had a defenceman’s position for him, but he went up and played it. I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to him,” says Dwight. “He learned to skate backwards really quickly.”

After a return trip with the Selects the following season, Dawe was invited to join the Atlantic Hockey Group team headed to tournaments in the U.S.

Dawe’s obvious talents have been recognized at home as well. He made Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s High Performance Program under-14 team last season, and returned to the Atlantic Challenge Cup with the under-15 group, which finished third this past fall in Moncton.

“We did a lot better than we did the first year,” says the ginger-haired Dawe, who tied for the tournament lead in points with six in four games. “The first year, we lost to New Brunswick 7-2. This year, we beat them 6-2. Last year, we got smoked by Nova Scotia, and this year we tied them 4-4.”

Looking for spot

Next season, Dawe, who is part of the Central region boys’ hockey team at the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Clarenville, hopes to earn a spot on the under-16 team that will represent the province at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C.

But between now and then, there’s a big decision looming on the horizon for the 15-year-old, one who claimed Newfoundland Major Midget Hockey League rookie of the year honours after a 12-goal, 32-point season with the Central IcePak.

Does he stay home, play another season with the IcePak and wait for the 2015 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft? Or is it time to leave friends and family behind for prep school hockey, and a chance to perhaps one day play NCAA hockey?

Thus far, Dawe says school which have expressed interest include Ontario’s St. Andrew’s College, Newbridge Academy in Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick’s Rothesay Netherwood School, which actually asked him to join their ranks this season.

Doug Shepherd of Andrews Hockey Growth Programs in Prince Edward Island is advising the family on the best course of action.

“He’s got his ear to the ground … he knows he can get (Adam) into any prep school he wants, so right now it’s up to Adam,” explains Dwight, who would like to see his son take the NCAA route as opposed to major junior.

“Doug thinks he’s custom built for it. He’s small, but highly skilled, so it will give him a little longer to develop.”

With the IcePak losing a bevy of players from this year’s roster — including midget league-leading scorer and longtime teammate Jordan Maher, projected as a top pick in the 2014 Q draft this summer — Dawe says he is leaning towards prep school next season.

But from there, he’s of two minds when it comes to his hockey future.

“I want to play in the Q because it’s a better league, but I also want a good education,” he says.

“I don’t want to look back and say ‘what if?’ It’s a big decision.”

Twitter: @telykenn