LONDON, UK – There are few players in the National Ice Hockey League that command a mutual respect from opposition players and fans that veteran blue-liner Dwayne Newman does. Pro Hockey News speaks to the man affectionately known as Dog.
It is now over two years since the 6’ 2” battle scarred frame of Dwayne Newman appeared in the NIHL, after almost fifteen years of loyal service in Britain’s higher leagues.
In that time, the Canadian defenseman has experienced the highs of Captaining the Chelmsford Chieftains to a Play-Off Championship, to the lows of a season struggling at the wrong end of the league table with the Milton Keynes Thunder.
In both jerseys, and those of Peterborough Phantoms, MK Lightning, Telford Tigers and Basingstoke Bison before them, Newman has given sweat, blood and passion like few others. He is in short, a skint dentist’s dream.
“It’s the way I know how to play” says the 42 year old quite simply, when asked why he puts his face and body on the line with his trademark shot blocks.
Despite a reputation as a rock at the back, there was still some surprise that Newman switched to London Raiders in the summer, to take up the spot of departed Slovak sniper Juraj Huska.
“I always give the team that signed me the season before the opportunity to re-sign me” admitted Newman, who predictably captained the Buckinghamshire side in 2012/13.
“I loved MK Thunder and manager Dave Fairhurst, but at the time import jobs were drying up fast and they didn’t have a rink to play in – I wanted to play one more year, rightly or wrongly”
“It’s always a challenge when you are regarded as an ‘older player’ to justify your choice in the line-up. On the basis of it, yes my presence in anyone’s line-up takes a spot away from a younger guy, could be British or Import”
“To myself, I have to feel that I am worthy of my spot in the line-up, that I make a real contribution to a team. That means that my work ethic has to make up for anything that age has taken away”
“As we grow older and time takes away a lot of the things as players we sometimes take for granted, the only thing that doesn’t go is a guy’s heart and willingness to work”
On a weaker Raiders roster compared to last season, many Raiders fans probably questioned Player Coach Danny Marshall’s signing of a stay at home blue liner, who rarely drops the gloves and does his job with the minimum of fuss.
Newman may be a tough cookie but he is far removed from the explosive and aggressive hockey lapped up by many of the Raiders faithful.
Up the A12 in Essex, Newman’s former fans in Chelmsford also expressed surprise that their former Captain could contemplate a season with their bitter rivals, and speculated how he would fit in with his new team mates.
“Every dressing room you go into is comprised of different characters, and it’s that blend of characters that will make any team sink or swim” explained Newman, who was first brought to these shores by Basingstoke to play in the Superleague.
“Ultimately, it’s the question that is asked of any professional is to bring what you are to whatever environment chooses to have you”
“I had spoken to Marsh on more than a few occasions over the last little while about possibly playing for Romford/London and we had never managed to get something sorted that worked for us both – this year we did”
Despite a solid start to the campaign, London have found themselves already drifting away from title contention, however after Lithuanian Andrius Kaminskas left the club in November, the signing of free scoring Czech Jakub Klima made them one of the form teams over the last four weeks. The team have a spine of quality players but injuries and illness have left them short at times.
Newman himself has rolled back the years with some vintage displays at the back, earning him a deserved ‘Player of the Month’ award for November. Marshall’s nous in recruiting such a presence at the back to steady his defense has proven a smart move.
“It’s no secret that we have struggled for goals this year” admitted Newman, who is based in Peterborough.
“With the loss of Bomber (who is also a player I hold in great respect) – to have a guy like Jakub step in and be the answer that we require, could be just what we need to bring us back into contention for silverware”
“Not to mention, it is nice to be playing with an old friend”
Newman and his blue line corps have seen plenty of ice time this season and are back in action this coming weekend against Wightlink Raiders at Lee Valley Centre, but before we go there is just one question left to ask Mr Newman… What advice would he give any youngsters breaking into the game?
“Be there for the boys – because they will be there for you” is the simple and honest reply from a player many of London’s youngsters would do well to learn as much as possible from this season.
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