Daw­son Mercer takes his game to Que­bec

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Bay Roberts na­tive Daw­son Mercer has pro­duced steadily for the Tri Pen ban­tam Ice over the last two sea­sons. This year, the 15-year-old is get­ting a taste of prep school hockey at Bishop’s Col­lege in Sher­brooke, Que­bec. He’s not alone on the main­land, get­ting to play on a team along­side his older cousin Zachary Ben­nett.

This Septem­ber rep­re­sented a big change for Daw­son Mercer.

Not only was the 15-yearold Bay Roberts na­tive head­ing into his first year at Bishop’s Col­lege School in Sher­brooke, Que­bec, but it was go­ing to the first sea­son in a long time when his dad Craig, an out­stand­ing ath­lete in his own right, was not go­ing to be on the bench with him.

Sud­denly, there were a cou­ple of holes to fill, in­clud­ing the post- game anal­y­sis ses­sions be­tween father and son on the ride home.

“When I was home, I’d al­ways ask for his opin­ion on how I played,” Mercer told The Com­pass. “It’s a big change. He’s ba­si­cally been coach­ing me since I can re­mem­ber.”

De­spite that, the over 2,000 kilo­me­tres be­tween Bay Roberts and Sher­brooke is eas­ily nav­i­gated with a cell phone and de­cent long dis­tance pack­age. Bishop’s games are sometimes streamed on­line, giv­ing the folks back home easy ac­cess to Mercer and his team­mates.

That’s when he gets some ad­vice.

“I talk to ( my par­ents) ev­ery night and if they watch the games, I’ll al­ways ask if he did,” he said. “He’ll al­ways give me pointers and tell me things I can work on.”

Com­ing off a pair of out­stand­ing sea­sons in the provin­cial ban­tam AAA league with the Tri Pen Ice — last sea­son with the Tri Pen ban­tam Ice, Daw­son had 68 points ( 42 goals, 26 as­sists) in just 24 games. In the play­offs, he added 10 points ( eight goals, two as­sists) in four games — it was time for Mercer to make the move to the main­land and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of where he stands at this point in his ca­reer.

“I had to know I was mak­ing the right choice and ev­ery­thing,” he said of his de­ci­sion to leave. “I think I made the right choice.”

So far, it’s been pretty good for the young player. The Bears just started their sea­son in the Mid­west Prep School Hockey League and in five games Mercer is al- most a point-a-game player reg­is­ter­ing four points (two goals, two as­sists) in those con­tests. Cou­ple that with the pre-sea­son games and he was 14 points in 23 games.

“I find the hockey good up here,” said Mercer. “The game is quicker and it puts you in the mind­set that you just want to play.

“I’m en­joy­ing it.”

The game

Mercer’s game is pred­i­cated on cre­at­ing space through a com­bi­na­tion of skat­ing and stick­han­dling. Nick­named “The Ma­trix” back on the is­land, Mercer is as smooth a skater as he is at han­dling the puck.

This com­bi­na­tion of skat­ing and abil­ity to con­trol the puck al­lows him to bend time and space to his will as his nick­name would sug­gest.

Mercer never ap­pears out of con­trol, usu­ally dic­tat­ing the speed of the game around him. It’s an in­nate un­der­stand­ing of his own abil­i­ties that puts him in spa­ces where he can suc­ceed.

Mak­ing Mercer’s tran­si­tion to Sher­brooke go smoothly was the pres­ence of his older cousin, Zachary Ben­nett.

Ben­nett is in his sec­ond year with Bishop’s Col­lege and was sure to show Mercer the ropes at the prep school. This meant the eas­ing in process of mov­ing to a new school and meet­ing new peo­ple was a bit eas­ier for the young ath­lete.

The cousins play on the var­sity un­der- 18 team to­gether and even room to­gether in the dorms. The provin­cial flag hangs on their wall.

“( Zack) re­ally made it more com­fort­able,” said Mercer. “Be­ing in a room to­gether, I’m mov­ing in with some­one that I’ve known my whole life.

“I’m en­joy­ing it. I sort of fell into it right away and I never had any prob­lems start­ing off.”

I’m en­joy­ing it. I sort of fell into it right away and I never had any prob­lems start­ing off. Daw­son Mercer


Daw­son Mercer (left) and his cousin Zachary Ben­nett play on the un­der-18 var­sity team for Bishop’s Col­lege School.


Daw­son Mercer is in his first year at Bishop’s Col­lege School in Sher­brooke, Que.

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