MASON CITY, Iowa – From the very beginning, Dylan Gajewski was a success on the ice in Mason City.
He became the first North Iowa player since 2017 to open his Bulls career with a goal in four straight games… but his story in Mason City also has a foreword.
That foreword began after an outstanding high school career in his hometown of Woodhaven, Michigan, where his skill and craftiness led him to 107 points in his three years for the Woodhaven High School Warriors. It also came after his first junior season in 2019-20, a 12-point finish in Powassan, Ontario.
The story of his success in Mason City actually began with a handful of impressive showings as a visiting Willmar WarHawk during the 2020-21 season. When they stopped by the Mason City Arena, Gajewski made the most of his opportunities – during the regular season and postseason that year, he appeared in five games on the Bulls’ home ice. He scored points in all five, scoring goals in three of the five. In his visit to Mason City on March 4, he posted a natural hat trick and led the WarHawks to a 4-2 win.
The WarHawks would eventually win their first playoff series in franchise history, and pushed the Bulls to a decisive third game in the NA3HL West Division Finals before bowing out one game shy of a trip to the Fraser Cup tournament.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life in hockey,” said Gajewski. “Everybody talks about playoff hockey, but it’s a whole different atmosphere when you get to experience it at the level we’re at.”
Gajewski reached the North American Hockey League and got started on a hot streak, scoring in three of the Austin Bruins’ first four games of the season at the NAHL Showcase. However, those goals would be his only ones in an Austin uniform.
Then, as Thanksgiving approached, the Bulls came calling. Gajewski did not appear against his old mates over the Thanksgiving weekend, but made his North Iowa debut the following weekend against the St. Cloud Norsemen. He didn’t miss on his chance, scoring his first Bulls goal on one of his only two shots of the night – naturally, he did it on home ice in Mason City.
The next night in St. Cloud, he scored twice. Then, against the Springfield Jr. Blues, Gajewski cranked his game up to another level, picking up a hat trick that included the overtime winner. He added one more goal for good measure the following night, closing out North Iowa’s home slate, as well as one of the hottest opening streaks ever by a North Iowa Bull.
“I was struggling in Austin, just to find the back of the net,” said Gajewski. “I had a good feeling when I got traded here for some reason. I kind of felt like I was going to start off hot, and I ended up doing it. It felt really good to get that out of the way.”
Though he cooled off somewhat the rest of the way, seven more goals followed, including another hat trick against the Jr. Blues on February 26 in Springfield. In the end, Gajewski scored 17 goals and notched 18 assists in his only NAHL season, even improving on his 26-point showing the previous season in the NA3HL.
Now, just one thing remains to close out his stellar run in junior hockey: a college commitment. Though no commitment has yet been announced, he says several options are in play across the Midwest, and a final decision is likely in the coming weeks.
“It’s been a great experience. I love all of these guys here,” said Gajewski. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect coming into the locker room when I got traded here, because I was playing against them at the beginning of the year. I was really grateful for this opportunity. I’ve liked being here a lot.”