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Get to know Matt Dumba

by Travis Betts / New York Islanders
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Off the ice, Matt Dumba is a quiet, humble but confident 17-year-old. On the ice, Dumba is a fierce ball of energy capable of putting up big offensive numbers or turning a game around with a huge hit. Dumba ranked second among Western Hockey League defensemen with 20 goals (nine on the power play), and sixth with 57 points in 2011-12. The Calgary, AB native captained Team Canada at two Under-18 tournaments in the past year, and was the youngest player invited to Canada’s 2012 World Junior Championship camp.

Dumba sat down with recently to talk about his play and expectations for the draft. How would you describe your overall game to someone who has never seen you play?

Matt Dumba: I think I’d describe myself as a two-way defenseman, a guy who can play both sides of the puck, and is very versatile on the ice. What allows me to do that is my skating ability. I play in all situations on the ice: power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5, 4-on-4. I’m a guy who wants to jump up in the rush and create offense, but at the same time I can play a good defensive game too.

NYI: You seem very soft-spoken, but when I watch your highlight reels, I see a guy playing with a ton of energy. Where does that come from?

MD: I guess it’s just my passion and love that I have for the game, and going out there and always challenging myself to be at my best. It’s going to the rink and going to the gym every day, and looking to improve. I guess the quietness off the ice – I’m always putting on a smile and I just want to be one of those guys who goes about doing their work quietly, and just working hard and being a guy that can really show his game through his skills and passion and hard work on the ice.

Five things to know about Matt Dumba

1. Dumba led Western Hockey League defensemen with 20 goals, also adding 37 assists in 69 games with the Red Deer Rebels during the 2011-12 season.

He captained Team Canada at the 2011 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, winning a gold medal, and at the 2012 Under-18 World Championships, where he led the tournament with 12 points in seven games.

At the Scouting Combine Dumba finished among the top-10 in three events, including sixth place in the standing long jump and eighth in push-ups.

Dumba writes a blog for which followed his last season with the Red Deer Rebels and his experience at the Scouting Combine in Toronto. Read Dumba’s blog.

His birthday is July 25, the same day as former NHL forward Tony Granato and Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

NYI: On paper, you added a lot of offense to your game this past season. Talk about your increased role on the Rebels.

MD: As a 16-year-old, I was kind of one-dimensional in the sense that I was just looked upon to create a spark for the team, and was used in scenarios where it was more about creating offense and that spark for our team. This year I’ve taken on a way bigger responsibility. A lot of guys moved out, and I took on a bigger role with the leadership there, and just playing in every scenario on the ice. I got a chance to do that this year partly because we had so many injuries. Our team was just kind of plagued with injuries all year, and that allowed me to put up big numbers and play in every scenario.

NYI: This draft class is very strong at the defense position, especially with guys from the WHL. What are your expectations going into the draft?

MD: My expectation is to be drafted by a team that wants me and a team that has a place for me and sees a bright future for me. I guess that would be my highest hope going into the draft, and whatever team drafts me, I’d be thrilled and privileged to have that opportunity with that team. There’s the human nature of wanting to be picked as high as you can. I’m a competitive guy. I want to go high. I think I’ve proved that I can be one of those guys. I’m just looking forward to it all right now – it’s going to be a great experience.

NYI: What things are you doing now to constantly improve and get to the next level?

MD: It starts with my eating habits. I’m just eating a ton right now; eating all good stuff for me. I’m going to school, and then I go train, and go back to school and jump on the ice. So I have pretty busy days right now. I come home and enjoy a rest after that. I’m trying to enjoy the time I have right now, and enjoying being around my family and friends.

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