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Dewar on cusp of NHL dream

  • In Sports
  • June 7, 2021
  • By

It seems it’s only a matter of when – not if – that The Pas product Connor Dewar makes his National Hockey League debut.
The left-shot forward has been lights out this year, brushing off the distractions of a worldwide pandemic to really make his mark with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild, the top affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.
Dewar, just 21, is second in scoring with the Wild with 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) in 29 games this year. That beats his point total from last season in his rookie campaign – though it took him 52 games to reach 19 points. His 12 goals ties him for the team lead as well.
The talented forward, like so many in the hockey world, was just thankful he got a season to play, as it wasn’t always obvious that pro hockey was going to take place when the pandemic was wreaking havoc across North America.
“I find it’s been easier to go to the rink and play hockey when we sat around and waited for so long, and were uncertain when hockey would start up again, and when we would get some semblance of normalcy back,” says Dewar, who shone as the captain of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips before making the jump to the pro ranks. “It’s been nice be to here in Des Moines because we are allowed to have some fans in the building, so Friday and Saturday night you go to the rink and it feels like normal life to me.
“It’s been fun, easy to play, and I’ve got no complaints.”
That said, staying healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic requires some sacrifices to be made. Dewar and his teammates do everything that is required of them to keep not only themselves safe and healthy, but all those around them as well.
“We test every day – it gets old, our testing is set every day at 8 a.m. – so even on a day off like today there’s no sleeping in, you have to get up at 7:30 a.m. and go into the rink to get tested. You adapt to it, but it still feels weird wearing a mask all the time, and getting tested all the time.”
Building off his impressive sophomore season, Dewar caught the eye of the brass with the main club in Minnesota, and back in March was called up to be part of the taxi squad – the closest you can get to playing in the NHL without actually making your debut. So while he did get to spend some time with the NHL’s Wild this year, he didn’t actually get to make his NHL debut – yet.
“It’s a step in the right direction to see that they’re giving me that nod,” says Dewar. “But again, when I’m up there, I want to play in the NHL. It’s my goal. It’s my lifelong goal to play in the NHL. So I guess it fueled the fire a bit more for me, to get that close.”
One of Dewar’s teammates this year is NHL veteran Cody McLeod, and the two actually have a lot in common. Both grew up in western Manitoba (McLeod is from Binscarth). Both played midget AAA in Manitoba (Dewar suited up for the Parkland Rangers), and both played their WHL hockey on the west coast in an American market before starting their professional career in the minors.
As one of the young guns in the Wild system, Dewar is always open to feedback from his veteran peers.
“I’ve been lucky here to have been on a bit of an older team the last two years, with a lot of great leaders,” says Dewar. “Guys who have played in the NHL, guys who have played in the minors, and guys who got there the hard way, who really had to earn it. So Cody is definitely a guy I look up to.”
The Iowa Wild season will soon end with three straight home games against the Texas Stars. Because of COVID there won’t be any AHL playoffs this year, so that’s a lost opportunity for Dewar and his teammates.
That said, he’s eternally grateful for the chance to play this year at all.
“Down here it’s felt like normal life, and I’ve had purpose this year,” he said. “Elsewhere people are unemployed, or struggling with mental health (due to the pandemic), so I just feel great that I’ve had a purpose here.”