University of Maine men's ice hockey player Adam Dawe during a recent game. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

University of Maine hockey left winger Adam Dawe is 5-foot-8 and 161 pounds and quiet by nature.

But he loves to throw his weight around.

Dawe was the Black Bears’ leading scorer last season and had a goal and an assist in the team’s losses to Nebraska Omaha last weekend.

“He shows a lot of leadership in the way he plays. He sets an example for everyone,” said graduate student defenseman Cam Spicer. “He doesn’t have much size but he uses every inch of what he has.”

Dawe’s fearless nature and gritty play, paired with his small size, has had its consequences. Dawe has suffered several concussions throughout his career, including one at UMaine that sidelined him for the rest of his freshman season after 17 games.

“That was the worst one I’ve had,” said Dawe, who admitted that when you suffer an injury like that, you wonder about your future.

He was told by a friend of his back home in Gander, Newfoundland, and his father Andrew McKim, who had his NHL career cut short by concussions, that he shouldn’t make a decision about hockey while he was still hurt and that he wasn’t in the right mindset.

He recovered and returned to the ice his sophomore year and finished fourth on the team in scoring with nine goals and 11 assists in 34 games. He shared the team lead with Tim Doherty in power play goals with six. Last year Dawe had five goals and nine assists in 16 games, and his three power play goals tied him with Emil Westerlund for most on the team.

Late UMaine head coach Red Gendron and his staff didn’t deter him from playing his physical game but they told him they wanted him to do a better job protecting himself when he had the puck. Which he has done.

“When I’m playing with an edge, that’s when I’m playing my best,” Dawe said.

He has always been a hard-nosed player. He used to enjoy watching NHL players finishing their checks on TV so he instituted that in his game at a young age.

“It looked like fun. And my friends back home love seeing me finish my hits,” he said.

Besides overcoming his concussion, Dawe and his veteran teammates have also had to deal with playing all of their regular season games on the road last season due to COVID-19 restrictions in the state and at the university and the sudden death of Gendron on April 9 after he collapsed on the golf course at the Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.

“I had never lost someone I was close to before. It was different. I didn’t know how to handle it. We have his jersey in our locker room,” Dawe said.

Dawe has been impressed with new head coach Ben Barr, saying “he has us going in the right direction”, and added that there were a lot of positives to take out of last weekend’s games at Omaha despite the losses.

“I thought we outplayed them for the majority of both games,” Dawe said. “But we came out sloppy in the third periods and took some unnecessary penalties which killed our momentum. But we did really well on our forecheck, especially when we finished our hits. We kept the puck in the offensive zone.”

Dawe, who has 16 goals and 27 assists in 69 career games including 11 power play goals, said he would like to continue improving the defensive aspect of his game.

“Ever since I got to Maine, my defensive game has been a lot better,” he said.

Even though Dawe doesn’t talk much, Barr said he is a leader that everyone looks up to.

“He means a lot to the team. He is a pretty cerebral player. He likes to slow the game down when he has the puck and we’re asking him to play at a little higher pace without the puck and stuff, and he took a big step last weekend,” Barr said.

“If we need him to kill penalties, he can kill penalties. If we need him to finish a hit, he can finish a hit.”

Dawe is optimistic about the season and is looking forward to finally playing in front of the fans at Alfond Arena. UMaine played one home game a year ago but it was without fans, a 7-2 Hockey East playoff loss to New Hampshire.

UMaine plays its home openers against Atlantic Hockey team Sacred Heart (Conn.) on Oct. 22-23 at 7:30 and 5 p.m., respectively.