Ryan’s fancy

Os­prey cap­tain re­flects on break­out year

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Bay Roberts’ Ryan Daw­son is known for his flashy puck han­dling abil­ity.

He has a pen­chant for mak­ing de­fend­ers miss with his vast arse­nal of puck wiz­ardry that in­cludes toe drags, shoul­der shim­mies and spino-ramas.

Watch the Tri Pen Os­prey of the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Mid­get Hockey League and you’ll see Daw­son dart­ing in and out of space with the puck, look­ing to put it in the net or set up a team­mate with a pin­point pass.

“That comes from hours and hours in the drive­way shoot­ing and han­dling the puck,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

While his abil­ity to han­dle the puck is what jumps out at you, there is a sub­tle part of the 17-year-old’s game ob­servers don’t ini­tially no­tice.

That is his abil­ity to pro­tect him­self.

Stand­ing at just five-foot-eight­inches, Daw­son is not the tallest player on the ice, but he has no sec­ond thoughts about mix­ing it up in the cor­ners with de­fend­ers who have two or three inches on him. Why is that? It is be­cause of his un­canny abil­ity to pro­tect him­self and the puck.

“It is some­thing I started de­vel­op­ing my first year in mid­get,” said Daw­son. “The play­ers were big­ger and I needed some­thing.”

How he does it is sim­ple. Daw­son will see his de­fendor com­ing and in­stead of be­ing hit, he ini­ti­ates the con­tact.

A low cen­tre of grav­ity al­lows Daw­son to main­tain his bal­ance after the ini­tial con­tact and throw his op­po­nent off bal­ance.

“They think I am not look­ing and then I lower the shoul­der,” he said. “I like to ini­ti­ate the con­tact.”

Daw­son has also looked to the pro­fes­sional ranks for in­spi­ra­tion. Play­ers like Chicago Black­hawk Pa­trick Kane, who is five-foot-11inches, have pro­vided him with an idea of how to bet­ter pro­tect him­self.

“I like to do the but­ton hook,” said Daw­son, the son of Kelly and An­nette Daw­son. “I speed down the boards and then jam the breaks on. The de­fence­man can’t keep up.”

Great sea­son

Al­ways known as a scorer, Daw­son has had a strong sea­son so far when it comes to putting the puck in the net.

The young ath­lete is sec­ond on the Os­prey’s roster with 24 points (14 goals, 10 as­sists) in 16 games. That is up from the pre­vi­ous sea­son where he tal­lied 17 points in 23 con­tests.

Daw­son got off to a slow start of­fen­sively, notch­ing only two points in the team’s first four games, but he got things go­ing after that, tal­ly­ing 22 points over his next 12.

In that span, he is av­er­ag­ing close to two points a game and has made it on the score sheet in nine games.

“My line is re­ally com­ing to­gether,” said Daw­son.

Lyn­don Thorne (20 points) and Cameron Simms (14 points) have been ex­cel­lent foils for Daw­son’s of­fen­sive abil­i­ties.

“We work well to­gether,” he said.

Grow­ing into a cap­tain

Daw­son serves as the cap­tain for Tri Pen and has done so for the last two sea­sons. It is a role he takes great pride in.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it at all,” said Daw­son, re­flect­ing on when he was named cap­tain at the start of last sea­son. “I thought maybe an as­sis­tant cap­tain or some­thing like that, but not cap­tain.”

He took the pro­mo­tion in stride and led the team as best he could, learn­ing as the sea­son pro­gressed.

“I was look­ing to learn from some­one last year,” said Daw­son.

That is not the case this year, where he has be­come the cap­tain then-coach By­ron Vatcher en­vi­sioned.

“I’m a lot more com­fort­able in the league and I know what it takes to win,” said Daw­son.

Com­ing to­gether

This sea­son Daw­son has watched his team come to­gether and the re­sults are show­ing. Head­ing into last week­end, the Os­prey were first in the five-team league with 24 points.

He sees it as a re­sult of the team and play­ers com­ing to­gether off and on the ice.

“Ev­ery­one is more con­fi­dent and com­fort­able in the league,” said Daw­son.

His par­ents make a habit of record­ing most of Daw­son’s games, ei­ther on a handy Go-Pro cam­era or a dig­i­tal recorder.

It makes for a handy learn­ing tool where he can watch the tape and learn from the mis­takes he made dur­ing any par­tic­u­lar game.

Daw­son has a li­brary of games from which to pull in­for­ma­tion from.

Com­pass file photo

Tri Pen Os­prey cap­tain Ryan Daw­son has an im­pres­sive abil­ity with the puck.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Tri Pen Os­prey cap­tain Ryan Daw­son.

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