Winnipeg, MB - Nigel Dawes has been a World Champion and gold medalist for almost three weeks now, but it isn’t getting old.
On January 5th, Dawes became a World Junior Champion. On January 7th, he was back in his familiar digs with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, along with Team Canada goaltender Jeff Glass. As they say: ‘No rest for the weary’.
Dawes and Glass kept up their Team Canada winning ways, helping Kootenay register six straight wins before getting a much-deserved break. All Dawes did was contribute 5 goals and 5 assists. The Winnipeg native clearly still has the golden touch.
While Dawes was reacquainting himself with his Ice teammates, he also had to face off against his former teammates. In chronological order, over the course of ten days, his new-found ‘enemies’ included fellow gold medalists Clarke MacArthur (Medicine Hat), Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd (Calgary) and Braydon Coburn (Portland).
“It’s neat but you know what? It’s business when the game starts. I got to play against a couple of the guys, but on the ice there are no friends. We got to catch up after the game and talk a bit. It’s something that we’ll always have, that’s for sure.”
Dawes has been off since Sunday night, and back home in Winnipeg since Monday morning.
“I’ve been trying to take some time to rest, relax and spend time with family and friends. This afternoon, I helped with a charity at Dakota Minor Hockey … which I’ve been involved with quite a bit.”
Dawes was on hand at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre Thursday night for the ceremonial puck drop prior to an AHL game between the Manitoba Moose and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. And as he dropped the puck, two of his National Junior Team teammates from a year ago in Helsinki, Marc-André Fleury and Maxime Talbot were there, pursuing the professional dream with the AHL Penguins. After the game, both admitted to being particularly proud of Canada’s victory.
“I kept on calling home to find out how it was going because in the States, there wasn’t much interest,” said Fleury. “It was a little tough to follow, but with the internet, and calls back home, we got to see how Canada was doing.”
“I was really happy for the guys. I got to go twice, and came away with silver both times. So I can only imagine what it’s like to get a gold medal.”
“You can’t say that it was as if I was there, but I was really proud for the guys,” said Talbot. “I know how hard it is to build team chemistry and that. It’s a fantastic thing to experience as a team. So you really hope that it’s going to happen for Canada and for the guys that I got to know last year.”
“I don’t know if we would have won without last year’s experience,” said Dawes. “It’s too bad for Marc-André and Max that we couldn’t do it last year. But we learned a lot and got to finish things off this year.”
“It’s really disappointing to not get the gold,” added Fleury. “But there’s always a lesson to learn from those experiences. I think that’s what helps you learn and win the next time.”
“It’s really tough to put into words,” concludes Dawes. “It’s been so great to be able to get such a reaction from all kinds of people, especially kids. It’s been three weeks already, but still people stop me and congratulate me. I’m really honored to have been part of winning that gold medal.”