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Dumba building off strong summer

by Matt Dumba /
Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hi, this is Matt Dumba from the Red Deer Rebels. I'm really excited to get this season going. It's been a good start to the season here. We're 8-3 now. We got off to a slow start as a team and I did individually, but we've picked it up and found a rhythm, and lately we've been on a roll, winning five games in a row, and I have 7 points in 11 games. They're pretty good numbers, I'm happy with that. And it's fun playing with Justin Weller on the back end here. I'm really looking forward to the next month ahead of us.

We're only a month or so into the regular season here, but I've actually been on the ice for a while. I was named captain of our team for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August. I'd been to Europe when I was younger with a summer hockey team. We traveled around and played other teams. It was nice to experience that, but I hadn't been over in recent years. It was really interesting to go over to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, experience the culture and see how everyone is over there.

As a team, we came out and lost our first game to Sweden, which was a wake-up call, but we went on a tear in the next five games and won every game by a decisive margin. It was a pretty amazing accomplishment. As captain, leading the team was pretty easy with such a great group of players and characters on that team. I had a pretty good tournament and really showed I could play that defensive game, but also add that offense, the hits and flair that everyone likes to see.

After that, I had the NHL RDO Camp in Toronto. That camp was pretty interesting. You got matched up against some of the top guys in this year's draft. It was pretty neat to see all the guys, especially the Russian guys, Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk. It was great to see their skill and what you're up against, competition-wise. It was a pretty fun few days -- fun to go up there and know people are watching, but just have fun with it, just go out there and have fun and enjoy the experience.

All that summer hockey I think for sure has helped me, especially playing on that big ice surface at the Hlinka, against the skill level I was playing at. Guys like Filip Forsberg and the Swedish team, powerful guys that make it really tough to play against. You've got to make sure your gaps are good and the angles you approach them with are solid. You can't get beat 1-on-1. I think that was good for me to work on my defensive game and I think it'll show this season.

I have pretty high expectations for myself this season. I'd like to go high in the draft. I'm a real competitive guy. I want to show people I can go in the top picks there. But at the same time, whatever team is willing to take me and want me, I'm going to be happy and work my hardest and prove to them I'm a good pick.

When I've talked to guys about the draft, they've all told me the one thing they regretted in their draft year was being too uptight. They want me to go out there and work hard every day, which I love to do. It's nice to know I'm doing something I love. I don't want to put too much stress on that. I just want to enjoy my experience. If I work hard every day it's going to take care of itself in the end.

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