Dawson Holt (Saskatoon, SK) was selected eighth overall by the Vancouver Giants in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Despite some twists and turns through the first three seasons of his career, Holt had a lot to feel good about in 2017-18. He achieved new season highs in goals, assists and points and was a star in the playoffs alongside linemates Tyler Benson and Davis Koch. In this offseason Q & A feature, Dawson Holt chats with Dan O’Connor about his offseason plans, why he feels he’s a ‘big-game’ player and he also mentions what type of professional ventures he’d like to pursue if hockey weren’t an option. This conversation took place on June 14, 2018 and it’s all below in our latest Vancouver Giants offseason Q&A segment:
DO: When you think about April and specifically the whole series with Victoria, are you over it?
DH: I’ve come to terms with it how it ended. We played good hockey and deserved better but it’s honestly just a bittersweet memory. It was nice being in the playoffs for the first time but it sucks that it had to end when it did. It’s always going to be bittersweet.
DO: The playoffs for you were outstanding with eight points in seven games. What worked so well for you, Tyler Benson and Davis Koch?
DH: We found chemistry playing together right away. Once playoffs hit we took full advantage of the big stage. I feel like I’ve always seemed to play well when there’s added pressure. I think that helps. The bigger the game, it always seem to get me more fired up. I was just thankful that it turned out this past season.
DO: How did the WHL playoffs compare to other big games you’ve played in previously?
DH: Those were the biggest games I’ve ever played in. Canada Winter Games (Back in 2015) were great but the playoffs were by far the biggest stage and the most pressure that I’ve experienced. It was super fun. The more important the game, the more invested you are and for the most part, the most fun you have.
DAWSON HOLT ON PLAYING IN PRESSURE-PACKED GAMES:
I feel like I’ve always seemed to play well when there’s added pressure. I think that helps. The bigger the game, it always seem to get me more fired up.
DO: I’m only going on what I observed last season, but I got the sense that last season the team was as cohesive as it’s been in a long time. I think I noticed it especially in the playoffs, would you agree?
DH: For sure last year’s team was the most gelled that I’ve had so far in the WHL. For any team to be successful you need to have chemistry. The better friends you are, the harder you’re willing to work for the guy beside you.
DO: Now that you’re older and you’ve been through a few seasons, did you notice a difference for yourself in Year 3 in the league?
DH: There’s always an added expectation that you put on yourself when you come back a year older. I put it on myself last season and the coaches put it on me too. Those first two years were a big building block for this past year. Hopefully this coming year I’m able to contribute even more.
DO: When you look at who is all coming back, who are you most excited to watch?
DH: Bowen Byram is going to have a huge year next season. We all expect him to do great things. The biggest thing is going to be trying to help him stay focused and help him out whenever possible. I’m also excited to see Yannik Valenti, the new Euro coming in. I’m also excited to see what Matt Barberis can do as a 20-year-old. He reminds me a lot of Brennan Menell. If he can stay healthy – Look out.
DO: How’s the training been going?
DH: I took a couple weeks off, but I wanted to get back at it pretty quickly. I’ve been working out five days a week and I’m doing my skating stuff and I got a job at Golf Town for the summer too which is keeping me busy. The majority of my time has been spent working, working out and playing hockey.
DO: That’s awesome. Are you a golfer? Is that a sport that you like to do in your down time?
DH: For sure. I’ve been golfing for quite awhile now. I really enjoy it. I have a membership in town here and I try to get out whenever I can.
DO: Can we jump back to the academic side. You and Dylan Plouffe shared the College Academic Award for 2017-18. What did that mean to you?
DH: School’s always been important for me and my family. It was always school work first and then you could go out and play hockey with your buddies on the outdoor rink. I didn’t always agree with it growing up, but looking back now I’m very thankful. School is so important and when people get hurt sometimes they have nothing to fall back on. It’s nice to have school as a viable option down the road.
DO: Is there a particular field out there in the ‘working world’ that you’e hoping to learn more about?
DH: I’ve always wanted to learn more about medicine. I’ve also been looking at law. I watch the show Suits and that got me interested. I’ve got a few different things in mind if I end up going down that road.
DO: Being a Saskatchewan guy and dealing with what happened in Humboldt. How did that accident affect you personally?
DH: It’s super hard because A) you know people on the bus and B) you’re in that same situation. It hits so close to home. It’s still pretty unbelievable to think about it and all that happened. It’s somebody that nobody could have ever expected but all I can say is that I’m thankful that I had some friends that did survive and I’m still praying for all of those people that did lose friends and family members.
DO: Are you and the guys starting to talk about next season at all?
DH: We talk about it a bit. Once the months start to shorten before camp I’m sure we’ll talk about it a bit more. That said, we’re all excited to get back to Vancouver and to get the year started. We’re optimistic, we know we have a good team coming back and we have a chance to make a strong push at playoffs and a championship.
DO: It’s one thing to have the guys on paper, and another to put it all together. You guys are all aware of that though I’m sure?
DH: Definitely. Playoffs changed everything. Once you experience it once, you want to experience it every year. We are all on the same page with that sort of thing.
DO: In closing Dawson, can you just get one more sense of how exciting it is for you to think about all that lies ahead?
DH: The expectations are higher so we’re all going to be excited. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’m excited to play at the Pacific Coliseum again and also mainly just getting to see all of the guys again. We’re going to be positive, we’re going to come out and have a good year.