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Newfoundlander Dawson Mercer shooting for the top

Of the Drummondville Voltigeurs’ five leading scorers last season, Bay Roberts’ native Dawson Mercer is the only player back with the team this fall. Mercer, who had 64 points in 2018-19, has picked up the scoring pace in his third QMJHL season, with a team-leading 17 points in his first 11 games. — Drummondville Voltigeurs photo
Of the Drummondville Voltigeurs’ five leading scorers last season, Bay Roberts’ native Dawson Mercer is the only player back with the team this fall. Mercer, who had 64 points in 2018-19, has picked up the scoring pace in his third QMJHL season, with a team-leading 17 points in his first 11 games. — Drummondville Voltigeurs photo

Draft-eligible Bay Roberts native has had a fine start to his QMJHL season in Drummondville

After chasing the pretty play and looking to make the nice dangle for much of his career, soon-to-be 18-year-old junior hockey sniper Dawson Mercer has learned what a lot of kids grasp early on.

It’s nice to score goals.

“Ha! Yah,” Mercer chuckled over the phone this week. “I was always more of a playmaker. It was always one of those things where I never really had an idea of shooting first. Instead (I was) looking to set up a play.

“Now I like to score.”

And he’s doing a darn fine job of it.

Mercer, who is from Bay Roberts, is enjoying a tidy third Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, leading the Volts with nine goals and 17 points in 11 games. Heading into Friday. He was tied for the Drummondville points lead and sitting seventh overall in QMJHL scoring parade.

Say one thing for Mercer, his timing couldn’t be any better. That’s because the right-shot sniper is in his NHL draft year.

Despite going eighth overall in the QMJHL draft in 2017, Mercer might be one of those players who flew a bit under the radar, the youngest player on the Bishop’s College under-18 varsity squad, a team from Quebec’s Eastern Townships that played a prep school schedule against teams in Canada and the United States.

Not anymore.

What some pundits might not understand, either, is Mercer’s doing it this season minus the support he had last year when the Volts opted to go for it, to a President’s Cup league championship, trading for junior star Joe Veleno.

“I was always more of a playmaker. It was always one of those things where I never really had an idea of shooting first. Instead, (I was) looking to set up a play. Now I like to score.”

Dawson Mercer

He had 30 goals and 34 assists in the regular season to finish fifth on a Drummondville team whose playoff run ended after three rounds with a loss to eventual league finalists Halifax Mooseheads.

The four players who were ahead of him on the Voltigeurs’ scoring list last season are no longer with the team, either turned pro or playing elsewhere in the QMJHL. It was part of a massive off-season roster turnover. What’s left from the 2018-19 squad are a goalie, a defenceman, and a pair of forward lines.

One of the team’s rookie defencemen, by the way, is St. John’s native Noah Wilson.

It’s a very young team, with a season-starting average age that was less than 18. However, the play of Mercer, who turns 18 a week from Sunday, is a large reason why Drummondville’s record through its first 11 games was well above .500, at 7-4.

A snippet of Mercer’s scouting report indicates the 6-0, 180-pound winger is a power skater, who does strong work in the corners.

Dawson Mercer (19) is one of the Voltigeurs’ three assistant captains this season, joining Thomas Pelletier (left) and Brandon Skubel (right) in wearing an ‘A.’ Xavier Simoneau is the team’s captain. — Drummondville Voltigeurs photo
Dawson Mercer (19) is one of the Voltigeurs’ three assistant captains this season, joining Thomas Pelletier (left) and Brandon Skubel (right) in wearing an ‘A.’ Xavier Simoneau is the team’s captain. — Drummondville Voltigeurs photo

He appears to come by some of his talent honestly. His father, Craig Mercer, was a decent senior hockey player in Conception Bay North back in the day, and one of the handful of locals who tried out for the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the middle of the 1995-96 American Hockey League season when that Tom Watt-coached team ran into a roster shortfall.

Earlier this week, Dawson Mercer was named to the QMJHL team that will play a pair of games against touring Russian juniors in New Brunswick early next month.

The games Nov. 4 in Saint John and Nov 5 Moncton, N.B., are part of a six-game CIBC Canada-Russia series that also involves all-star entries from the Ontario and Western junior leagues.

After learning of that assignment this week, Mercer went out Wednesday night in Drummondville and registered a goal and assist ten route to earning second-star honours in a 5-2 win over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

“Any time you get a chance to play for Canada against Russia in hockey, it’s a special moment … exciting news,” he said.

“I played in the world U17 challenge (in 2017) and that was fun. This will be an honour, too.”


robin.short@thetelegram.com

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