When University of Maine junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen was 8 years old, one of his friends quit soccer to play hockey.
Dimmen wanted to follow suit so “I kept begging my mom [Nancy] to let me play hockey. It took off from there. But it wasn’t until a year later. And I quit everything else I did, soccer, swimming. …”
“My parents [Robert and Nancy] didn’t think I’d like it or that I would stick with it,” added Dimmen. “They bought me a pair of sweatpants in place of hockey socks [at the outset]. Just the bare essentials. But they supported me all along.”
Dimmen is from Colorado Springs and there isn’t a high-level junior hockey team there so his junior hockey travels took him to places like Wasilla, Alaska and St. Louis, Mo.
“Sarah Palin is from Wasilla. I met her kids,” said Dimmen who won a Junior A National Championship with the St. Louis Bandits in 2007.
“If you want to play college hockey, you’ve got to play junior hockey,” said Dimmen. “I’ve been around the block [travel-wise].”
He has been a solid two-way workhorse defenseman throughout his career at Maine and enters this weekend’s home series with Providence with two goals and five assists in 14 games this season.
“He exudes a lot of quiet confidence out there,” said UMass Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald. “He’s real strong on his feet, he plays with his eyes up and he does a really good job in terms of making decisions.
“He seems like a key guy for their whole defense corps and they feed off his presence,” MacDonald added.
“He’s a good player. He’s solid, both ways,” said Providence coach Tim Army.
Dimmen plays in every situation and said, “It’s great that the coaching staff has enough confidence in you to put you out there in all situations.”
“He’s a tremendous role model,” said Maine redshirt freshman defenseman Mark Nemec. “He works at every aspect of his game, day in and day out. He does all the little things you need to do to become a better defenseman.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead added, “His toughness resonates among the team. He’s a great leader. He works extremely hard on and off the ice. and is a very steady performer. He keeps getting better every week. He’s a fierce competitor.”
Dimmen said he has become a better skater and is a “lot more confident now.”
“You just know what to expect every night. You know how to prepare and you know you can’t take a shift off,” said Dimmen, who had 6 goals and 9 assists in 37 games last year and 2 & 4 in 31 games as a freshman.
He said he works out “all the time” while seeking constant improvement.
“I’ve worked on my strength, particularly my leg strength. You can always become a better skater and by becoming a better skater, that will help you in all areas of your game,” said the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Dimmen who also enjoys being an assistant captain.
“The guys look up to you so you’ve got to be a little more vocal. There’s a little more pressure but it’s a nice pressure to have,” said Dimmen who expects a tough series from Providence.
“They want to prove they’re having a great season and we just want to establish ourselves in Hockey East,” said Dimmen, who has been happy with his career to date. “It’s important for us to close out the first half [well].”