A Look At: Rockets’ Goaltender Dan Davies – by C. Scott Holland

Sometimes the path taken can take you far away only to make it seem like you’re back at the beginning. Such has to be the feeling for Strathroy Rockets’ goalie Dan Davies who recently sat down for a chat with 105.7 MyFM’s Chris Soares.

The 6′ 1″ Dundas, Ont. native and 19 year-old netminder can boast that both his mom and dad are accountants and his sister is studying neurology at the University of Guelph. One parent works in Toronto while the other heads to Hamilton. He began his hockey career as a member of the Ancaster Avalanche AA then played major midget AAA with the Hamilton Bulldogs before signing with Iroquois Falls of the NOJHL.

Regarding how he began playing goal, he said, “Ever since I was 10 years old, I played goal.” Why? “Dan chuckled and said, “To upset my dad!” It seems that his father didn’t like him playing goal. “He’d often say, “You gotta be a forward and you gotta be score goals, be an impact player.” Well it with the Rockets Davies certainly has been an impact player. Although he’s been with Strathroy for a short time, he’s 2-3-1 and has a 4.08 gaa.

He explained his journey to becoming a Strathroy Rocket. “I’ve been a part of Steve McKichan’s (former Strathroy Blades player and NHL Vancouver Canuck) hockey school for about 10 years. My dad had found him (and the school) while searching online. There’s lots of turnover as the older guys move on to further their careers, plus there’s lots of quality people working there. The school’s a good experience and Steve used to billet players once during the week at his house, so I got to know Strathroy pretty well.

“Something clicked when I was at the school and working with Steve then after I turned 13, he took me under his wing into his mentorship program. He pushes you along in your hockey career.”

“While I was with Iroquois Falls I didn’t like it and wanted to come home. I talk to Steve about it and he said you can come home and we’ll find a place for you.”

Dan realized that he was in a difficult position. He was playing for a team which was eight hours away from his home and he wasn’t enjoying it. About two weeks after, he got a call from Strathroy GM Mike Bondy. “He asked me to come out to practice for a skate. At first, it was just a couple of casual skates, but once Mat Ouellet left to play Jr. C in Mount Forest, Mike asked me to join the team and I jumped at the opportunity.”

How does he regard the Rockets’ team?

“It’s a young team which I really like. The staff was really friendly when I first arrived and made it an easy transition.”

“It’s lots of fun playing goal,” Dan stated, “Obviously my mom doesn’t like it because it scares her. It makes her nervous especially when guys come in on breakaway …It’s a position that the game can swing around you. The pressure, the control really appeal to me.”

The 180-pound goalie knows exactly what assets he brings to the team. “Maturity and experience,” he said. “We have many young guys and for most of them it’s their first time playing on a junior team. It’s different than being on a minor hockey squad. You don’t have that safety net of once you’re on the team, you’re on the team. We play some tough games and guys are not understanding what’s going on. I am a calming presence and I tell them that this isn’t anything new. Just go about your own business and it will get better.”

The recent spate of seven consecutive overtimes as well as a turnaround in the month of December have some fans noticing the difference from the start Strathroy had. “We’re a small team and we work hard,” Davis stated. “We’re not afraid to get into the rough and dirty areas. Whenever we’re behind in a game it never really seems like we’re out of it. The guys just grit their teeth and dig down a little harder.

“The OTs are tough to explain. They’re fun to play in but stressful.”

He loves the new three-on-three format and knows that goalies can make some big saves, but he’d rather have his team win it in regulation.

The hometown crowds play a big part too. “It gets pretty wild sometimes. It’s awesome whenever there’s a big hit or someone on the PK (penalty-kill) blocks a shot, the fans really go nuts!”

The young Strathroy coaching staff is one aspect which he noted, “They’re closer in age to the players so the messages they get across are coming from guys who just experienced those messages not too long ago. It makes them easier to accept. Plus they’ve got an open-door policy where you can see them and talk about anything.”

It’s been a long journey but one that is starting to see some results, not only for Dan, himself, but for the Strathroy Rockets as well.

(photo credit – Colleen Wiendels Photography – Strathroy Rockets facebook)

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