Sunday, April 22, 2012

Canada Wins U-18 Bronze, Dumba Named Top Defenceman

Before you ask... no, I did not wake up at 4am to watch this morning's bronze medal game at the World U-18 Hockey Championship.  But I did make my way to the office in time to chat with Mathew Dumba for a few minutes.

Dumba had three assists in Canada's 5-4 OT win over Finland to win bronze to finish the tournament with 5 goals and 7 assists.  He was a fairly easy choice as the Top Defenceman for the tournament.

Here's the transcript of my chat with Mat...

TG - Congrats on winning the bronze, Mat.  What are your overall thoughts on today's game?
MD - "It was a really good game by us.  We came out in the first really strong, up 2-0 going into the second.  The we took 10 minutes in penalties and we were killing the whole period.  That was tough to be in penalty trouble and the Finns are pretty feisty and they fought back just like we expected them too.  But it's a bronze medal [for us] and something to go home with.  Both teams really played hard and in the end we just kinda out-willed them.  We greased one out and it was good to see." 

TG - Was it tough for you guys to get motivated for today's game?  Bronze medal games aren't always easy for Canadian teams to get up for.MD - "No, it wasn't at all.  We've come all this way and to lose and not get anything from it would have been terrible.  It would have been a major failure for us and Hockey Canada.  We wanted to do something to take a little bit of pride home and have that [medal] in our bag to say we won something.  A medal is still a medal.  It's still a world championship with the best teams in the world so we're just satisfied taking home a bronze medal."
TG - You guys played probably your worst game of the tournament in losing 4-3 to Finland in the round-robin.  There must have been some motivation in getting another shot at them in the bronze medal game?MD - "Yeah, for sure.  We really didn't show them our best game in our first game.  But all the teams in this tournament get better in each game and today really showed that.  Both teams had got better and it was a really fast-paced game, high tempo and a lot of fun."

TG - You obviously put up a top of points at the tournament [led all skaters with 12 points] but were you happy with your individual play overall?
MD - "I was very happy with my point production, I kinda just got luck with all of that.  I got on a roll and it was nice but I think I also did a good job of playing defence and shutting down some key players in the tournament.  I maybe would've liked some plays back on the defensive end of things but the tournament goes by way too fast to dwell on those little things.  You just gotta be mentally tough battle through that stuff and I felt I did a really good job of that."

TG - This is the second straight overseas tournament in which you've led Team Canada in scoring [2011 Ivan Hlikna Memorial was the other] obviously something about European-style hockey suits your game.
MD - "Yeah, I guess so.  It kinda just puts me into a position where I can skate, get the puck on net and have a lot of opportunities.  I was pretty fortunate to be placed here in the positions that I was.  To have that powerplay time and be looked at as one of the key players on the team, I just embraced that as much as I could."
TG - Now that the tournament is over, talk about the fun you're having there [Czech Republic] off the ice.
MD - "It's a totally different world over here.  It's fun coming here.  Just to see the scenery and the history that is here is amazing.  Kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm so thankful for it."


A few other quick thoughts...

- Dumba's play at the U-18's was, for lack of a better term, typical 'Dumba Hockey.'  He was a juggernaut offensively while still having a few off-moments in his own end (as he admitted to in our chat).  But he certainly responded well after being criticized in the wake of his drop in draft ranking.  Next up on his agenda... what is sure to be a long list of NHL teams calling him for pre-draft interviews leading up to June 22nd in Pittsburgh

- Jesse Wallin's coaching resume becomes even more impressive with the job he did at the U-18's.  Canada was right there in every game they played against teams which for the most part are together year-round.  In the case of the USA they have been together for two full years and Canada pushed them to the limit, twice.  The Rebels definitely have the right man at the helm as they look to re-group and get back into the WHL playoffs in 2012-13.

- Hunter Shinkaruk's third goal of the bronze medal game was the overtime winner.  He had 49 goals for Medicine Hat as a 17-year-old.  Even with Emerson Etem moving on is it a stretch to think he could net 60 goals next season? (as Etem did this year)

- Huge props to Cam Moon for getting me Dumba and Wallin to chat with throughout the tournament.  No doubt Mooner has had a great time being with the team in the Czech Republic, will be fun to chat with him when he gets back to Red Deer.

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