It didn’t take long for Dawson Martin to fit in with the Red Deer Rebels.
It was announced last Thursday the Rebels acquired Martin in a trade with the Calgary Hitmen and by Friday the 18-year-old native of Winnipeg was in their lineup.
“It was a whirl-wind few days,” he said. “I was traded and jumped in for three (games)-in-three (days), and I’m starting to get comfortable. They’re treating me really well and I’m enjoying it.”
All Martin did was pick up a pair of assists in the three-game road trip through Moose Jaw, Brandon and Regina. He should be even more comfortable when the Rebels return to action Wednesday at the Centrium against the Kamloops Blazers. They host the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday and the Kelowna Rockets Saturday. All three games are at 7 p.m.
“I didn’t have any specific line, kind of bounced around a bit, but that’s fine,” he said. “Getting a couple of points for your new team made it easier to make a first impression.”
The six-foot, 165-pound Martin also made an impression with the Rebels coaching staff.
“It wasn’t easy to fly in and jump right in with no concept of our systems. That’s a challenge but he made an impression in the first game in Moose Jaw and definitely added to the group,” said Rebels assistant coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux.
Outside of playing against them, Martin didn’t know anyone on the Rebels.
“They’re great guys and they’re trying to make me feel comfortable,” he said.”It’s been a good transition and I’m looking forward to the future.”
The Rebels and Hitmen have always had a heated rivalry, which Martin had to laugh about when asked about now being on the other side.
“It will be kind of weird. I had some good friends there, but there’s no friends on the ice. It will be a battle.”
Martin was born and raised in Winnipeg, playing two years of bantam AAA and two years of midget AAA with the Winnipeg Wild. He helped the Wild win the provincial title in the 2013-14 season and played with Team Manitoba in the 2013-14 Western Canada Challenge Cup, finishing third.
He was a second-round pick (40th overall) in the 2013 WHL bantam draft by the Hitmen.
He joined the Hitmen full time for the 2015-16 season, playing in 60 games and finishing with two goals and seven assists while playing mainly on the third and fourth lines.
“When I was younger I thought a bit about going to school, but mainly my plan all along was to play in the Western League … it seemed the best route for me,” he said.
He had no clue he would be traded.
“No idea,” he said. “It came out of the blue. I received a call one day and was on the plane the next. Calgary had some younger guys they wanted to develop, so this is a new opportunity for me, one I’m looking forward to.
“I’ve loved everything about the league, even the trade is a new experience, and I hope to love it even more here. Head coach Mark French gave me an opportunity in Calgary and I tried to make the most of it. But they felt I would prosper better here and I’m looking forward to working with Brent (Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter).”
Martin plays mainly at centre or left wing and is noted for his passing ability.
“I’ve been considered a playmaker Since I was young, but I’ve been working trying to improve my goal scoring.”
“At the end of the day you need to score goals and we expect everyone to contribute and he’s part of that,” said Lamoureux. “His strength is his skating. He definitely has some skill and playmaking ability and adds depth to our lineup.
But while Martin has impressed he knows he still has some work to do.
“I need to work on my strength,” he said. “I’m not the biggest guy and you need that strength in this league. I need to continue to develop, by lifting weighs and running and doing the extra work.”• Two members of the Rebels — Jeff de Wit and Austin Pratt — have been listed by Central Scouting among 53 WHL players to watch this season. Both are in the C group.• Goaltending prospect Byron Fancy of Lethbridge was named to Team Alberta to compete in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, beginning Oct. 19 in Calgary. Forward Justin Svenson is on Team Manitoba.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca