Port Alberni minor hockey product Edward Dyson has had an award-winning year in his first season with the Dawson Creek Rage. Dyson was named the team’s rookie of the year during a ceremony last week.
For coach Scott Robinson, the decision was difficult to make. The Rage are an expansion team in the North American Hockey League, and their roster included 18 rookies this season.
“We needed contributions from all of them,” Robinson said. “The reason Edward was chosen was we felt he contributed the most to us teamwise. He had probably the best first game ever that I’ve seen a Jr. A team goalie have.”
Dyson made 47 saves in a 2-1 win, and caught the eye of several National Hockey League representatives at the same time. He finished the season with a 15-12-2 record and a .912 save percentage as the Rage finished fifth in their division, just out of the playoffs. Dawson Creek was one of six expansion teams in the NAHL this year.
Robinson was no stranger to Dyson’s abilities between the pipes when he played with the Kerry Park Islanders of the Jr. B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League last year. Robinson spent nine years coaching in the B.C. Hockey League, most recently with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, just up the highway from Kerry Park.
Dyson was originally recruited by the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, but when he learned that he would have to battle for playing time and may not be guaranteed a spot with the Shipmen, he decided to look around. He called Robinson, who had talked to him last February about joining the Rage, and found out there was room left on the expansion team for a goaltender.
Robinson didn’t hesitate to sign Dyson.
“I knew what he was going to look like; he was consistent,” the coach said.
There are 25 teams in the growing NAHL, and the Rage played as far south as Fresno, Calif. and as far east as Chicago. Travel was interesting, Dyson said: the team usually takes a six-hour bus ride to Edmonton before flying out to their destinations.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was really neat to travel around the States and go to places you wouldn’t normally go to and experience hockey there.”
Dyson took some time before answering where his favourite road trip was. “Probably Minnesota,” he said. “I thought it was a really neat place and had a great atmosphere. The scenery…was a lot like the West Coast.”
Robinson said one reason he likes coaching in the NAHL is the players have a chance to become more worldly because they travel all over western Canada and the United States.
“Our team’s made it a policy to experience things in those cities, not just the arena,” he said. For instance, during one road trip to California he made sure the players went to and Oakland Raiders National Football League game.
“That part of it, for me, is quite exciting.”
Dyson will return to Port Alberni this weekend and spend the off-season finishing Grade 12 in a distance education program, working out “and getting as much ice time as possible.”
ICE CHIPS…Dyson is not the only Port Alberni hockey player on the Rage: Jared Crema also played in Dawson Creek this season, although he had a couple of injuries to overcome. “It was really neat being able to play so far from home with another guy from Port Alberni,” Dyson said of Crema.