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Calgary Herald article (Dumba starts new chapter at U18 worlds)

April 13 2012 at 5:32 AM
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Dumba starts new chapter at U18 worlds

Calgarian sports 'C' after season of disappointments

By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald

April 13, 2012 4:07 AM

D-man Mathew Dumba says, "It's our mission to get gold.

"Photograph by: Dave Sandford, Getty Images , Calgary Herald

The lessons learned in 2011-12 were as much about life as they were about hockey for Mathew Dumba.

On a high at the start of the season - an invite to the Canadian world junior camp and considered a top prospect for this summer's NHL en-try draft - the Calgarian was dealt his share of disappointments.

Starting with a knock on the door on the day of Team Canada's cuts in December and ending with missing the Western Hockey League play-offs with the Red Deer Rebels, it wasn't exactly a dream year for the defenceman.

"This season was pretty tough," said Dumba, who was ranked No. 11 in the NHL's final central scouting rankings, dropping from No. 7 at the midway point. "I was thankful that I had that and I know I'm better because of it. I've learned so much, just going through all the adversity I did this year.

"This year wasn't just about hockey for me. It was learning to relax . . . this year has been a success for me, but not everyone sees it."

After the Rebels were dealt injury after injury, they missed the play-offs. With many of their veterans out, Dumba was forced to shoulder more responsibilities and ate up a ton of ice time.

At the moment, however, it's the start of a new chapter.

Never shy about wearing his heart on his sleeve, the five-foot-11, 183-pound former WHL rookie of the year has the captain's 'C' sewn on his jersey at the IIHF under-18 world championship in Brno, Czech Republic.

"The player I am today is more reliable," he said, calling via cellphone after Thursday's 6-1 rout of Denmark to open the tournament. "Really passionate. Always try to do the little things right. I'm just trying to be a player that's reliable and accountable in every situation on the ice.

"Here, it kind of gives me that opportunity to show I am that player."

Dumba, Scott Laughton of the Oshawa Generals, and Kerby Rychel of the Windsor Spitfires helped start things off Thursday with a goal and an assist apiece while Owen Sound Attack forward Gemel Smith, Prince Albert's Mike Winther and William Carrier out of Cape Breton also scored for Canada. Their next test is Saturday against Finland.

But as for anything beyond that - the NHL draft and a possible invite to this summer's national junior camp - Dumba is staying in the present.

"It's not every day someone gets a call from Hockey Canada to do this," said the well-spoken teenager who also captained last summer's gold-medal-winning Canadian team at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. "You can never take advantage of that. It's not something that's given to you; it's a privilege, not a right.

"When it comes to world juniors or anything like that, it's definitely so far down the road . . . it's definitely about the guys here right now and it's our mission to get gold."

The Canadians, seeking their first gold medal since 2003 and only second of the tournament, also received a boost Thursday. Medicine Hat Tigers forward and Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk, and Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ryan Pulock will join the team after their clubs were eliminated from the WHL playoffs.

Calgary native Josh Morrissey, a 1995-born defenceman with the Prince Albert Raiders, is also representing Canada. Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin is at the helm.

Follow on Twitter/KristenOdlandCH

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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