April 11, 2022 | Bill Hunt – The Daily Gleaner
In Fredericton, she might have become an icon. But in the end, she couldn’t refuse UConn.
Seventeen-year-old hockey player Livvy Dewar, who will graduate from Rothesay Netherwood School in June, has committed to continue her university hockey career with the NCAA Division 1 University of Connecticut Huskies of Hockey East, earning a scholarship beginning with the 2023-24 season.
The five-foot-10, 150-pound forward was sought after by several schools, including her hometown University of New Brunswick Reds. But she said she was “blown away by everything” in a February visit to the UConn campus in Storrs, Conn., and committed quickly.
“Their facilities were beautiful,” she said. “All the people were amazing there. Everything just felt right. I knew it was the place for me.”
“She always had her sights set on the NCAA,” said her father, Kristian Dewar. “That’s where a lot of the top-level players go, and she wanted to experience that and challenge herself to play at that level.”
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult, Livvy Dewar said. She had worked with UNB Reds coaches Sarah and Cassidy Hilworth almost from the time Sarah was hired to run the Reds five years ago.
“That was definitely a tough one for sure,” said Livvy of rejecting the Reds. “They were obviously up there with my top choices. The Hilworths have really been big guides for me growing up. They’ve given a lot of opportunities to me particularly, but also for female hockey in Fredericton. They’ve helped shape female hockey, and Cassidy has helped me a lot with the skating aspect. They’ve really just built me into the player I am today. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Reds have had a handful of New Brunswick-born players on their roster since their rebirth in 2018-19, but Dewar would have been their best local recruit. Her coach at Rothesay Netherwood, Kayla Blackmore – who had a great career of her own the St. Thomas Tommies – said Dewar “is a power forward with high skills. She is physically dominant on the ice, her speed makes her a threat all over the ice and she has a heavy shot. UConn is getting a versatile player who can make a physical impact.”
Blackmore lauded her leadership skills, too.
“As a person and a leader, Livvy is pretty extraordinary,” Blackmore said. “She is selfless and always willing to put the team first. UConn is getting a player who understands every player has a role to play on the team and is willing to do whatever is needed of her to help make the team successful.”
UConn will get that player eventually. But it won’t be next year. Dewar will graduate from Rothesay Netherwood in June but, with the impact of COVID and then a right knee sprain which kept her off the ice for the last half of the season this year, she’ll play a season at the North American Hockey Academy in Wellesley, Mass., while taking first-year university courses online. She will live with her aunt Kandyce and uncle Andy and two cousins, Xavier and Oliver, who live in Burlington, Mass.
“They play a bunch of games, so it will be good for my development,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll come in 2023 and be ready to go. Obviously, playing at that level, I’m going to have to put the work in and work my way into the lineup. But I know that. I’m going to go in and put my best effort into everything.”
Dewar describes herself as “a 200-foot forward … just playing 200 feet of the ice all the time and giving 100 per cent effort.”
“I, for one, can’t wait to watch her continue to blossom,” Blackmore said. “From the moment she stepped on the hill, she has gone to work. She can often be seen with a small group training in the morning and then hopping on early to stay late after practices.”
Dewar looks forward to joining a program which is on the rise. The Huskies finished third in Hockey East this past season, trailing first-place Northeastern and second-place Vermont. Overall, they finished 24-9-4, including exhibitions. UConn fell 3-1 to Northeastern in the final of the championship tournament.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of playing the highest level of hockey,” said Dewar, who played with boys up to the peewee level, switched to competitive girls play at the bantam level and went to RNS beginning in her Grade 10 year.
“Kayla has built that program from the ground up, and she’s given me opportunities to get better each and every day,” Dewar said. “I really love her as a coach. She really cares about her players. She’s been a big part of this journey.”