By Devin Jones
Jake Danson and Knick Dawe should be heated rivals, but instead they make fun of each other in the way two good friends would.
Both are the backups to men’s hockey goalie Troy Passingham, who in his fourth year has played in all 12 Rams games this season — Dawe and Danson have yet to hit the ice.
“He is a big bastard,” said Dawe, 21, referring to the sixfoot five Passingham. “[But] he’s been a great teammate and friend to me so far.”
The only thing the two players don’t have in common comes down to a matter of style. Danson, 21, uses “athletic” to describe himself while Dawe goes for “technically sound.”
Before Ryerson, both goalies played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League — Danson for the Newmarket Hurricanes and Dawe for the Aurora Tigers, two teams that just happen to be cross-town rivals. Despite the battle for the backup position, neither player hints at animosity toward the other, a competition they chalk up to a friendly rivalry.
“It’s just like if you were to play against your friends, on the ice you compete and fight against each other, but when you’re done you’ll go out and have a beer,” Dawe said. “You’re always going to have someone behind you pushing you, trying to take your spot. We’re friends and you try not to take it personally.”
Dawe has been anointed the backup for now but nearly identical save percentages in the 2013-14 season — Dawe with a .916 and Danson with a .908 — makes the battle for the spot still competitive.
“In terms of competing, we’ve talked to both of them. They both understand the role and as long as there’s healthy competition, then it’s all okay,” head coach Graham Wise said. “It’s all about showing them that you have confidence in their abilities.”
Even though he sits in the crowd, Danson is enjoying the Ryerson experience. He’s using the facilities and support around him to improve his game, so he’ll be ready when called upon.
“I’ve had some pretty amazing hockey experiences, but the biggest thing about coming here was having a support group around me,” Danson said. “There’s a great group of guys who really mesh together and support each other, which has made playing hockey a lot of fun again.”
No matter who gets the job as the backup goalie on the now 8-4 Rams, Dawe and Danson — sounding straight out of a ’70s buddy cop film — will use the rivalry to improve their play and one day get into a game.