Hannah Dineen of Cape Elizabeth High School and junior Spencer

Shoebottom of Scarborough High School follow in the footsteps of

their well-known hockey-playing fathers.

The idea of the “family business,” though perhaps diminished in the past two decades, is still a powerful concept, as American as apple pie. But what if the family business is a sport played at the highest possible level? How does a father pass that legacy onto the next generation?

In the case of sophomore Hannah Dineen of Cape Elizabeth High School and junior Spencer Shoebottom of Scarborough High School, the answer to that question is, pretty darned well. Both girls have fathers who made it all the way to the National Hockey League.

Dineen’s father, Kevin, now head coach of the Portland Pirates, played with several teams in the NHL from 1984-2003. Shoebottom’s father, Bruce, has a strong local connection, playing for the Boston Bruins in the late 1980s and ’90s, as well as the Maine Mariners, a minor league team formerly located in Portland.

With a family history like that, one might imagine that the stresses of trying to live up to expectations would be a lot to deal with. In reality, though, both girls remain relatively unfazed by their fathers’ professional pedigrees. They’re so busy carving up defenses and shutting down rival offenses that there’s little time to be held in awe by what their fathers accomplished. Aside from receiving the occasional tip or tidbit of helpful advice – the same you might expect from any father who takes an interest in his child’s sport – these young woman are working hard to cultivate a new legacy that is all their own.

“I guess you could say that it’s in my blood,” Hannah Dineen said. “It’s not so much that, though, because I don’t think that skill can really be passed through blood, but hockey has always been such a huge part of the lifestyle of my family, whether it was watching it on TV or playing pond hockey together over Christmas. It’s just a common interest and passion that me and my dad share.”

“I can remember the first time Hannah skated,” said her father. “It was at one of our team Christmas parties at the Spectrum (in Philadelphia) – (those parties) are a great tradition in the NHL – and Hannah would have been probably about 2 years old. Those little skates that she wore have now been passed down through four children. All our children’s hockey gear always started with Hannah.”

Shoebottom’s start on the ice was almost a mirror image of Dineen’s.

“There are pictures of us when I was like 3 years old in hockey skates at arenas when my dad was playing,” Shoebottom said. “I was really, really young when I first got into skating.”

“Hockey is a family tradition,” her father said. “I think she first started playing it in outdoor rinks in our yard when she way younger. She picked it up pretty quickly.”

With dads like these, though, it would be difficult not to get stung by the hockey bug.

Kevin Dineen was chosen by the Hartford Whalers in the 1982 NHL draft. After playing for the University of Denver in 1983-’84, Dineen played for the Whalers two times (he scored the final goal for the Whalers before the team moved to North Carolina), spent time playing for his father Bill Dineen with the Philadelphia Flyers from 1992-1995, then moved on to play for the Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators before finishing his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bruce Shoebottom was more of a journeyman player than Dineen, playing for 14 different teams over a 22-year career that spanned 1982 through 2003. From 1988 through 1991, Shoebottom spent time playing for both the Bruins and their farm team, the Maine Mariners, although he skated for teams as far away as Austin, San Diego and Oklahoma during that period, and was a standout player in the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League, International Hockey League, West Coast Hockey League and Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League.

So with a vast reservoir of experience like that to tap, how often do their daughters seek them out for advice?

“Very seldomly,” Bruce Shoebottom said with a laugh. “With the exception of me just telling her to shoot the puck more often, she does everything on her own. She goes out and plays hockey for fun, and seems to really enjoy herself with her teammates. What she does out there on the ice is all her doing. I give her a few pieces of advice here and there, but that is really it.”

Dineen, mindful of her father’s history not only as a player but also as a respected coach, says that she frequently looks to him to evaluate what she’s doing on the ice.

“I speak to him about hockey every day,” she said. “He is always my personal coach, and even when I don’t ask for advice, I get it. I think his time as both a player and a coach are equally valuable in terms of his hockey knowledge. Obviously, I think every player gets advice from their parents about their game, but I get the benefit of the extra experience that he has. But mostly what I hear from him is all compliments. If I have a bad game, I don’t hear it from him. He knows that I am my own toughest critic.”

Both girls maintain fond, albeit fuzzy, memories of their fathers’ playing time.

Dineen describes her dad coming up to the boards during games and waving at her and her mother, and going down to the locker room after games to get candy.

“My mom always talks about how hard-working he is,” Dineen said. “He wasn’t the biggest player, but he always had his feet moving. That is something – more than anything – that he did that I try to imitate.”

Shoebottom goes further, crediting her dad’s playing as giving her the motivation to start playing herself.

“I don’t know if I would have ever started if he wasn’t involved,” she said. “But I would certainly thank him for it now.”

Hockey can be a dangerous sport, though. So how do these dads feel about the risks involved when their daughters step onto the ice?

“It’s probably just because with every kid it’s different, but with Spencer, it just wasn’t ever much of a concern,” Bruce Shoebottom said. “Youth hockey really isn’t that physical, and then when she moved up to high school, it never really crossed my mind. I have always looked at her playing as just a positive thing.”

According to Kevin Dineen, the girls game is different from the boys game, adding that there’s just not a lot of worry over the danger.

“That’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about following Hannah’s athletic endeavors over the past six years,” he said. “Women’s sports in general are just excellent, because you see the polite and friendly qualities of young ladies, but they also have this incredible, competitive gene as well. That doesn’t just pertain to Hannah – these girls are just enthusiastic about the game. The boys are bigger, stronger, faster, defter… and dumber. The boys are stubborn – they love to go out and hit each other. With the girls, I don’t think that’s ingrained in them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not competitive. They just compete in a different way.”

What does the future hold for Dineen and Shoebottom? Although the possibility of the NHL is out of the question, they’re still hoping to keep playing beyond high school.?”I really want to keep playing,” Shoebottom said. “I applied to a college in Canada, the University of Western Ontario. If I get in there, I would definitely try to walk onto that team. That would be pretty awesome.”

“I would love to play in college,” agreed Dineen. “I have been to see a bunch of college teams play, and I have worked with a lot of college coaches at different national and regional camps. To play at that level is about the highest you can go for a girl in hockey, so to achieve a spot on a college team would be amazing.”

With his daughter Hannah, right, at his side, Kevin Dineen celebrates his final game in the National Hockey League after retiring in 2003 as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kevin is now the head coach of the Portland Pirates, while Hannah is a sophomore on the Cape Elizabeth girls hockey team. (Courtesy photo)


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