When you look around for Swift Current Broncos forward Adam Lowry
, he's not a hard guy to find. At 6-foot-4 and 186 pounds, he tends to stand out from the crowd.
It wasn't always like that, however.
"I'm playing with some of my bantam teammates that are on Swift Current now," Lowry told NHL.com, "and we have a picture where I'm actually a couple inches smaller than them. Now I'm probably five or six inches bigger. The last few years I've grown eight or nine inches. It's been a bit of a process learning to get coordinated again."
As Lowry has grown, his skill level has grown along with him. It may not match the rocket-ride his body has gone through, but his learning curve definitely is climbing.
This past season, his second with the Broncos, he had 18 goals and 27 assists in 66 games. Those numbers all are improvements from his first season, when he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 61 games.
That constant climb was slowed a bit, however, by a bout of mononucleosis he came down with just prior to training camp starting in August.
"I got off to a slow start because I missed the first month and a half because of mono," Lowry told Yahoo! Sports. "I came into camp in pretty good shape and I was really excited to start the season and then it kind of just hit me. I had to take the whole month of September off."
When he got back he returned to being a strong, physical presence that's still learning how to use his size to his advantage.
"I like to play pretty physical," Lowry said. "I'm good around the net. I try to score a lot of tip-in goals or rebound goals. I wouldn't say I'm a very flashy player, I like to keep my game simple."
Lowry said he likes to pattern his game after San Jose Sharks
power forward Ryane Clowe
plays a similar style of game to me," Lowry said. "He's big forward and I know people have questioned his skating, but I think he's a pretty effective player at what he does. He likes to mix it up, he can add a little bit of offense, he's strong in the defensive zone, he's hard on the forecheck."
Lowry might see Clowe in his game, but others see a Lowry of the past -- Dave Lowry
, Adam's father. Dave Lowry
played 19 NHL seasons with the Canucks, Blues, Panthers, Sharks and Flames. He had 351 points in 1,084 games, but played in a pair of Stanley Cup Finals -- 1996 with the Panthers and 2004 with the Flames, his final season. His run with the '96 Panthers was the best of his career, as he led the team with 10 goals.
"He (Adam) is a lot like his father in the fact that he establishes position in front of the goal and looks for deflections," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald -- who coached Dave Lowry
for one season in the American Hockey League -- told NHL.com.
"I see some similarities," Adam said. "We're both good two-way players. We're both really responsible defensively and we both think the game pretty well. I feel like I've learned a lot from watching him growing up, and growing up with him, he was able to teach me a lot."
"I think he's a better player than I was," Dave Lowry
told NHL.com. "He's a smart player. He knows that for him to be a successful player he has to be in and around the net. … I was limited offensively and I realized that early on in my career. I said you know what, you get to the front of the net, there are opportunities there. He's a big fellow and he likes to play a physical game, and he's got some skill, too."
MacDonald said he sees that same skill set in Adam, and believed more would have seen it had the bout with mono not put him behind all season.
"Lowry improved and was more effective in the latter part of the season due to the fact that he had mono and maybe returned to play too soon," MacDonald said. "He does play a physical style and is strong on the puck in the corners. He can be effective on the forecheck. He's a big winger and sets up well in front of the opposition net. … He needs to learn to control puck more and also maybe protect it better using his size, which he should learn to do naturally at the next level. I think you will see a much better player next year when he is healthy."
Health will help, as will improvements in his strength and skating. Growing as fast he did, Lowry said he's still trying to get used to his big body.
"As I've gotten taller I believe my skating has improved," he said. "It's allowed my stride to lengthen out. As I've gotten taller I've gotten a little bit stronger, and that's helped my skating as well. I feel that with my reach, it really helps me around the net. I can have the puck a couple feet away from the defenseman and still be able to make a play as well as be able to wrap it around, and I can reach and beat defensemen to the pucks in front of the net as well."
According to his father, however, Lowry also needs to ease up on the self-criticism.
"He's very hard on himself and really critiques his game," Dave Lowry
said. "He really evaluates his game and he's brutally honest, and sometimes I think he's too hard on himself. He'll say, 'I [stunk] tonight,' and I'll say, 'What do you mean you [stunk], I thought you did OK, did a lot of good things.'"
Lowry, currently an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames
, said he's able to be honest with as well as supportive of Adam when they talk hockey.
"You try to talk to him and try to find out why he didn't have a good game," Dave Lowry
said. "Was there an event in the game you could have changed? Some nights you just don't have it, you're tired. I enjoy that part."
Adam also enjoys the conversations.
"He gives me a lot of advice," he said. "We usually talk after every game. He tries, even if (the Flames) are playing that night, he tries to catch the games at intermission on the webcast. He reminds me to stick to the little habits, keep doing the little things right, that's what makes me an important player. He always tells me hang around the net, that's where you score goals. Got to keep your feet moving and got to be physical."
Adam takes all the advice and tries to add it to his game, continuing his ascent to the professional ranks.
"I've been constantly working and improving," he said. "As I get a little older and a little stronger, that'll start to come."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK