Martin speeding his way into top minutes with Red Deer Rebels

Red Deer Rebels forward Dawson Martin may not have a point in his past four games, but you’d never notice.

The 18-year-old, who’s been given an opportunity as a top-six forward in the past few weeks comes to the rink with smile, regardless of what’s happening on the ice.

“He’s got a great sense of humour. He’s got a great personality,” said Jeff Truitt, Rebels associate coach.

“He’s got a smile on his face. It’s good to have that around the dressing room. He likes to have fun. That’s just his makeup and it’s great to see.”

The Rebels left winger said it’s just something that comes naturally to him – helps him get ready for any given game situation.

“I think I’ve always had a goofy personality. I’m pretty laid back. I don’t like to get tight up in the room. I dance around a little bit,” said Martin.

“I’ve always been like that. That’s how I prepare. I just have to be light and loose like that.”

The Winnipeg, Man., native was traded to the Rebels from Calgary on Sept. 29 for a sixth round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft. With only nine points in 60 games last season, Martin said he felt he had earned a bigger role with the Hitmen, but added he holds no ill will towards the team.

“I liked my time in Calgary. I wasn’t getting the opportunity I felt I deserved in my opinion,” he added. “I was really happy to come here … it’s been a lot better for me personally.”

In 20 less games this year, Martin has already surpassed his point totals from 2015-2016 with six goals and four assists.

The change in scenery has helped quietly carve out a niche for him in the Rebels forward group playing top line minutes, while also serving on the penalty kill and power play.

“Dawson has come in here and provided some energy. Some structure and some depth obviously for our forward group,” Truitt said.

“He’s getting an opportunity to play with top-six guys right now so, (We’d) like to see him contribute some offensive numbers here in the short term. He’s a good utility guy for us, penalty-killer – he’s playing a little bit on the power play.”

Most recently, Martin struck up some chemistry with the team’s leading point producer in Michael Spacek and new addition Lane Zablocki. Playing with those two talented forwards, Martin explained he really tries to keep his game simple.

“It’s super nice playing with Spacek obviously. He’s an unbelievable player. It’s nice to get Zabs on the right wing, too. Get a little grittiness to our line. I’m excited to get those minutes in, and I like playing with both those guys,” he said.

“I think I can use my speed a lot. With my speed, I can open up some space for those guys and get in quick on the forecheck and … create some energy. Hopefully I can create lanes for Spac and try and give him someone to pass to or feed him a little bit.”

Speed is a critical aspect of the game for Martin, who at five-foot-11 and only 161-pounds is easily the smallest player Red Deer dresses on a nightly basis.

“I have to use my speed a lot otherwise I’ll get crunched. Sometimes I will get crunched,” Martin said.

“I have to use my speed and shimmy-shake off guys and I have to use my quickness. That’s something that I do pretty well. I also have to play with an edge, I can’t let guys push me around. I gotta throw a check here and there.”

Regardless of his point totals, using a 90s pop song (Shimmy Shake by the 740 Boyz) or the more well known nursery rhyme version by The Wiggles to describe his play on the ice says everything you need to know about the Rebels winger.

byron.hackett@bprda.wpengine.com

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