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Defenceman Dumba impresses at Hlinka tournament, camp

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Mitch Ward, TSN.ca
8/18/2011 6:40:56 PM
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It's been a busy few weeks for Mathew Dumba.

Last week, the Red Deer Rebels defenceman was in the Czech Republic captaining Team Canada to a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

After flying back home to Calgary last Saturday he barely had enough time to unpack, before he hopped right back on a plane for his next hockey adventure.

Dumba, the WHL's Rookie of the Year last season, was one of 36 top prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft who participated in the NHL's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp on Wednesday and Thursday at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.

"It's tiring but you find it in you to do it because it's so much fun," said Dumba. "Not many guys get the opportunity to be in a camp like this so you have to make the most out of it and work your hardest."

Dumba and the other prospects were on hand at the RDO camp to test various potential rule changes for NHL brass in a series of scrimmages.

Besides acting as guinea pigs the prospects were also able to showcase their skills for potential NHL suitors against top talent.

"Every guy here is a top player and they're all so skilled so it's fun to be out there," said Dumba.

Even amongst the best Dumba stood out.

"With his willingness to try to make things happen out there he was really noticeable," said TSN hockey analyst Craig Button. "If you had to put one guy at the top of the list I think Matt Dumba was the guy."

A perfect example of that willingness to make something happen came at the end of the second scrimmage on Wednesday.

With his team trailing in the final minutes and needing a goal, Dumba pulled a beautiful spin move at the opposition's blue line to avoid a check, wheeled wide, brought the puck over the line and found a streaking Nail Yakupov in the slot for a one-timer goal.

The move impressed even Dumba himself.

"Coach gave us the green light to go at the end," said Dumba. "I pulled a spinnerama and couldn't believe I still had the puck on my stick."

That kind of creativity along with his gritty work ethic and physical play set the 17-year-old apart from his peers.

"He's not a shrinking violet," said Button. "He's a guy that's willing to step up and wants to make a difference in the game."

As a further example of Dumba's potential, Button pointed to his play in winning gold at the Ivan Hlinka. Wearing the 'C' on his jersey, Dumba scored two goals and one assist for Canada while shutting down some of the best forwards in the tournament such as Sweden's Filip Forsberg and Russia's Mikhail Grigorenko.

"He completely eliminated those guys from the game and those are really good players," said Button. "His level of play really set the tone for the rest of the team." 

Heading into this season, Dumba is hoping to build on that success with Team Canada and his strong play at camp by taking on a bigger role with the Rebels.

"I hope that I can bring a lot of offensive flare to the team," he said. "But I also want to be in a position where I can help out on the penalty kill and in defensive situations more this year."

But before he heads to Red Deer for training camp, which opens on Aug. 28, Dumba has finally earned a few well-deserved days off.

"I might shut it down and sleep for a week after this," he said.

Mathew Dumba (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
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