Generals defenceman looking to build off of great rookie campaign
Dawson Davidson took some big steps forward in his hockey career so far in 2014.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Dawson Davidson from the Moose Jaw Generals, left, makes a move on Jared Dmytriw before scoring Friday during a scrimmage on the opening day of training camp.
He is hoping to make another big leap this fall.
After a strong rookie season with the Moose Jaw Generals, Davidson was named the top defenceman at the Telus Cup midget AAA national championship and was invited to the Canadian national under-17 camp this summer. The 16-year-old is attending Generals main camp which began Friday, but has his eyes on cracking the roster with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers.
"He was good when he came to us, but he's at a point now where he might not come back to us at 16," said Generals head coach and general manager Ray Wareham.
Davidson was drafted in the third round, 58th overall, by the Blazers after scoring 20 goals and putting up 49 points in 25 games in his final season of bantam AA in Melville.
"In his bantam years he was always on the rush — and I loved the way he played — but I think last year the defensive side of his game came a long way. He's still going to be an offensive guy, but you have to be able to play in your own end if you want to play at the next level," said Wareham.
Davidson has worked on picking his spots to rush the puck and isn't afraid to admit his game can always get better.
"I was a lot more offensive when I was younger. Now that I'm playing at a more mature level I think I'm more of an all-around player. My defensive game definitely needs work, but so does the offensive side too," said Davidson.
He was working hard all summer to improve his game and get stronger physically. The invitation from Hockey Canada helped focus his off-season work.
"It definitely got amped up for U17 camp. I knew I had to get on the ice before that camp. It was a lot of training to get ready," said Davidson who was able to get summer ice at the new rink in Ochapawace which isn't far from his home in Moosomin.
Hockey Canada will send three teams to the World Under-17 Challenge instead of the five regional teams that used to take part. At the start of the month, they held an under-17 development camp that featured 108 of the top 1998-born players in the country.
"It went really well, I learned so much," said Davidson. "It was one of the greatest experiences in my hockey career. With that and Telus it's been a great year of learning."
In previous years he would have been at a summer camp for Team West at the U17 level, but the new format allowed him to test himself against even higher competition.
"It was really nice to see how good everyone is across the country and the level I want to be at," said Davidson. "After going there I know what I'm good at and what I need to work on. I'm really motivated to improve now that I've seen what's out there. I think I really need to work on my skating. Your skating can never be good enough. I'm not saying I'm a weak skater, but it can always be better. I want to faster and I want to get stronger in the corners. I want to be better defensively."
Between the Telus and the Hockey Canada camp in August, it has been a short off-season for Davidson.
"I put in a lot of preparation for that and now we're pretty much in the full swing of things here," he said. "I'm hoping to make Kamloops, but I wouldn't be mad to come back here. It's a great organization to come back to. This is a high-end league for AAA. Kamloops is my main focus now. I'm going to do everything in my power to make that team."
Davidson had five goals and 34 assists in 42 regular season games in his rookie season with the Generals. He took his game to another level when the Generals hosted the Telus Cup. He scored three of his team's nine goals in the tournament to earn top defenceman honours.
"We had a month to prepare. I didn't have to worry about anything else, all that was on my mind was the Telus Cup. When the tournament came around I was focused, I was in good shape and I was ready to go," he said.
Davidson worked hard to get to 170 pounds on his frame which is just over 5-foot-10. Yet, he still knows he needs to keep getting stronger. Wareham said his lack of size might be all that would keep him from sticking in Kamloops this season.
"He can definitely skate at that level and he thinks the game well enough, but size is going to be the big thing. Can he handle those guys who are 19 and 20 years old? He's a competitive kid and he's not afraid. He's not going to back down," said Wareham. "If we do get him back he's going to be a leader and he would be a big key without too many returning players."