Prospect Profile: Dawson Gerwing

Dawson Gerwing’s happy place has always been inside a rink. Growing up in Meadow Lake, Gerwing spent a lot of time inside the Meadow Lake & District Rink, taking in any hockey that he could.

“We had a senior team there and my dad played on it,” Gerwing recalled. “I was young and they all just seemed so good. I loved going to the local rink and watching whatever hockey that was going on. My parents asked me if I wanted to play and I was so excited.”

Gerwing says that, combined with watching NHL playoffs on TV, is what solidified his love for hockey. He also had a family connection to junior hockey, watching his uncle Brett Miller play in the WHL and SJHL.

When he got to the U15 age level, Gerwing had to take his on-ice talents to a bigger centre and drove to North Battleford multiple times a week to practice and play with the U15 Battlefords Barons.

“I had never really played against any of the best players in the province growing up,” he said. “I thought I would give it a shot to sort of see where I was at. After the start of the season I thought that maybe getting drafted into the WHL was a possibility for me and it just really pushed me to keep working. It was for sure tiring, driving back and forth a few times a week, but if I wanted to pursue my goals, I knew that I had to.”

Gerwing’s first year of U15 saw him post 27 points (12-15-27) in 31 games.

Limited to just two games during 2020-21, Gerwing looked on the bright side of the cancelled hockey season.

“It was disappointing for me, but we were still practicing and I was able to keep working,” he said. “I think it actually kind of benefitted me. I had a home gym and I was able to really focus on my fitness and helped me separate myself from my opponents who maybe weren’t working as hard.”

All that hard work paid off as Gerwing made a seamless transition to U18 as a 15-year-old, putting up 35 points (16-19-35) in 39 games with the Battlefords Stars in 2021-22, good for 11th amongst 15-year-old skaters in the SMAAAHL.

The 2021 WHL Prospects Draft also took part in the middle of that season, something Gerwing admits was tough not to think about in the time leading up to it.

“Going into the year I had no expectations, which I think helped me because I was just working hard,” he said. “I had never played in that league (SMAAAHL) and I didn’t know how I was going to adjust. I wasn’t totally focused on the draft but it was definitely a thought in the back of my head. I think after the first few games I really felt like I belonged and I could play at that level. It was almost just a relief when it happened because I achieved a goal I had set a few years before.”

Gerwing was at his grandparents’ house in North Battleford during the draft, and was able to soak in the day with them and his dad who had come down from Meadow Lake.

The Broncos drafted Gerwing 48th overall in the third round.

The most noticeable attribute to Gerwing’s game is undoubtedly his size, coming to Broncos training camp in the fall of 2022 and clocking in at 6’2’’ and 208 pounds at just 16 years old.

He says he has always been one of the “big kids” growing up.

“I didn’t grow all in one year, I’ve always just been one of the taller and thicker guys,” he said. “When I was around 13 years old, I really started paying attention to my diet and working out religiously. I started thinking that I wanted to be a good athlete and maximize that.”

That size allowed Gerwing to feel more comfortable than the average first-year player attending a WHL training camp.

“There are guys that go to camp like that who are smaller and that size discrepancy is something that’s in the back of their mind,” he said. “It’s nice having always been a bigger guy and having that confidence knowing you’re big enough and strong enough to be out there with anyone.”

Gerwing was able to join the Broncos for a few practices at the tail end of the 2021-22 season to give him an indication of what the pace would be like for his first training camp.

He had a goal in mind when heading to Swift Current, and that was to show well enough to earn a Scholarship and Development Agreement.

“I just wanted to show them everything I had,” he said. “I was hoping (getting signed) was going to be in the cards and sure enough it was. It was awesome to be able to come in and just achieve another goal that I had. I got to play a few exhibition games and you can tell that there are some guys who are just different. The NHL guys and guys who just play the right way. Everything is done just a little better than you’re used to, which is eye opening, but it’s good because it showed me where I need to be.”

The Broncos signed Gerwing on September 7 and saw him dress for three pre-season games, picking up one assist.

After his family moved from Meadow Lake to Saskatoon, Gerwing elected to play U18 closer to home and joined the Warman Wildcats for the 2022-23 season.

The Wildcats were hosting the 2023 Telus Cup Western Regionals, which played a factor in Gerwing’s decision to join them.

“That was definitely a factor in going to Warman because I knew we were going to have an opportunity in Westerns,” he said. “Of course, we were trying to win the league as well, but having Westerns just sort of added another layer of motivation. I think we progressed as a team as the season went along. We ended up finishing fifth and played the Swift Current Legionnaires in the first round, coming back from down 2-0 in the series to win. We played the Saskatoon Blazers in the second round and they had our number all season long. Feels like we sort of ran out of gas after the five-game series before that.”

Gerwing finished 2022-23 with 31 points (13-18-31) in 44 games, adding another three points (1-2-3) in eight playoff games. He would then put up a strong performance during the Western Regionals by posting five points (2-3-5) in three games as the Wildcats ultimately fell 4-3 in overtime in the final game, seeing the Saskatoon Blazers advance to the Telus Cup.

The Wildcats had a few weeks between their playoffs ending and Western Regionals starting, allowing Gerwing to join the Broncos for the final week of the regular season.

Seeing their playoff push up close provided Gerwing with invaluable experience about the intensity of the WHL.

“I think it was great, because that’s where I want to be and it gives you an indication of what it’s going to be like,” he said. “It’s nice seeing the intensity of those players and where I’ve got to be if I want to be able to make an impact at that level.”

Gerwing knows how important this summer is for him as he looks to become a full-time WHL player in 2023-24.

“This offseason is as important as ever,” he said. “My goal is I want to be a Bronco. I want to be able to impact the team and help the team in any way that I can. I don’t want to leave any doubts for myself. I want to go to camp knowing I did everything I could to prepare myself. I want to fit in out there. I want to be able to make plays for my team and bring that energy and physicality. I just want to grind it out for my team and do whatever is needed.”

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