Earlier this week, the Sydney Bears announced a trio of signings, which included former CBR Brave and Sydney Ice Dogs forward Hayden Dawes. Dawes has revealed how the move came together, why he chose the Bears, and what the goals are for the season.
It’s been a tough year for Dawes since playing for the Melbourne Ducks in the PHL last year. Like many others, the landscape of society and the economy since COVID first appeared has had an impact.
“I didn’t have hockey on the mind too much,” Dawes revealed. “I’ve had a lot going on outside of hockey.”
Waiting until after the AIHL season started before deciding whether to play and where was the best option for Dawes. With the goal of another Goodall Cup firmly in mind, signing with the Bears made sense.
“It gives me a good chance to play for a winning team and to lift the cup. I’ve either won the cup by beating the Bears or lost by being beaten by the Bears,” Dawes laughed.
“I had some good chats with [Bears Head Coach] Ron [Kuprowsky] about the team and organisation. It seemed like a good fit on both sides.”
The success that the Bears had recently in Melbourne, despite icing an understrength team for the trip, convinced Dawes that the team was special.
“It’s usually a good indicator to see what a team is made of when they’re backed against the wall and put into a difficult situation,” Dawes noted.
In a scouting report on the team, Dawes mentioned, “They [the Bears] play a similar, repeatable style of hockey and are one of the top defensive teams. Having Kimlin in there, too, it’s a steady ship that keeps on trucking.
“It makes it an easier transition to jump on the moving train with everyone moving in the same direction. Everyone is dependable; they play the right way.”
At 29 years old, Dawes has plenty left in the tank and is keen to contribute to a championship contender.
“Winning is obviously the driving factor,” Dawes answered when asked about his personal goals. “I’m a very competitive guy, and I hate to lose.
“In the short term, I just want to get my feet wet, get my feet under me and see where I fit, get to know the guys and catch up with some of the guys I know from past experiences. [I want to] be a good teammate and positively impact the team and the game wherever possible.
“It’s a cup or bust situation. Hopefully, I can be another piece of the puzzle.”
Dawes is looking to improve his game this season by focusing on the fundamentals.
“I think of myself as being well-travelled,” Dawes mused. “I’m focusing on gameplay in general. Getting up to speed on a team side of things. Being a physical presence out there.
“I’d like to think the skill side of the game is also something I possess. [I'm looking to] get some chemistry with my linemates and become a dominant force.
Dawes, standing 195 cm tall, is unmissable on the ice. Imposing his size is important to Dawes for the rest of his game to flourish.
Dawes commented, “Being as big as I am, I want to keep my feet moving and positively impact the game. That includes working hard and getting my feet under me. As long as I’m doing the right things, the skill side of my game will come out.”
Dawes hasn’t had a chance yet to practice with the team, but he is looking forward to joining the team this weekend for the home game against the Adelaide Adrenaline.
The match takes on added meaning for Dawes, part of a Melbourne Ducks squad defeated by the Adelaide Avalanche in the PHL finals.
“There’s always a little bit of nerves when there’s been some time between playing games,” Dawes said, referring to the nine months between competitive games.
“Last time I played some of those guys [players from the Avalanche who are now playing for the Adrenaline], they ended my season. I just want to make sure I’m playing the right way, and hopefully, we can end up on the winning side of things on Saturday.”
You can welcome Dawes at the Bears' next home game on Saturday, June 3, at 5 pm against the Adelaide Adrenaline. The team needs you, our seventh player, at the rink to lift the team. Click here to get your tickets, check out our membership packages, and see you at the rink!
- Article by Gordon Goodenough
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