We knew we were expected to win it all: Dawes

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- It seems like only yesterday that Nigel Dawes was trying to find a way to keep warm during what was essentially a working vacation in his hometown last December.

"I remember freezing while walking downtown (from the MTS Centre) to the hotel," Dawes, a Winnipegger and key cog with Canada's 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship team, said from Hartford, Conn., this week. "It's hard to believe it's that time of the year again."

LOADED WITH TALENT

Everybody knew that Canada was loaded with talent, but Dawes credits head coach Brent Sutter for finding the perfect mix of players who accepted their roles.

"(I'd) by lying if I said we didn't know that we were expected to win," said Dawes, a fifth round pick (149th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2003 NHL entry draft. "Everyone in the dressing room expected us to win, along with the whole country. It was a very talented team. Our mindset was just to go out and play the game and at times, we were so focused we didn't realize how dominant we were. We wanted to go out and win every shift."

Dawes was a prolific scorer during his Western Hockey League career with the Kootenay Ice, but some wondered how long it would take to be an offensive contributor at the professional level.

While it's still early, Dawes has given the answer by producing 10 goals and 17 points in 22 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack.

CONSISTENCY

"It took some time to get adjusted to the league and the speed and what-not," said Dawes, who scored 50 goals and 76 points in 63 games for the Ice last season. "You always want to try to work on your consistency. You always want to try and do better but I can't complain with the way things have gone so far."

One of the highlights was attending his first camp with the Rangers and sharing the ice with Jaromir Jagr and company.

"It was definitely exciting," said Dawes. "I got into one exhibition game against Boston. I was hoping to get a longer look and play a little more during the game, but the spots that were open on the team were more checking roles and the guys they have up there right now are doing a great job."

Dawes has impressed Wolf Pack head coach and general manager Jim Schoenfeld with the way he's handled the transition from junior to the professional ranks.

"Overall, we've been absolutely thrilled," Schoenfeld said Thursday night. "He doesn't get his goals in any one fashion. He has a lot of weapons because his mind is always working.

"He's an intelligent hockey player, with very good anticipation and good instincts, both offensively and defensively. Plus, he has a set of hand and foot skills."


Videos

Photos