For anyone who has seen him play, it was no surprise that the Red Deer Rebels selected Mathew Dumba with their first round pick, fourth overall, of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.
Dumba can do it all from the back end, whether it’s running the power play or simply delivering a bone-crunching hit on an opponent. The rookie rearguard has put up 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points in 48 games so far this season to go with a plus-14 rating and 75 penalty minutes. He was absolutely lights out at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he led all scorers with 12 points in six games en route to leading Team Pacific to a bronze medal.
Dumba is the real deal, and cut from the same cloth as Dion Phaneuf with all his offensive skill and physical presence. Along with his love of lowering the boom, he also sees the ice extremely well, has a big time shot, is a very good skater, works hard on and off the ice, is a great team guy, and has excellent hockey IQ. I could honestly ramble on and on about just how good the 16-year-old blueliner is, he is a phenomenal player, that is going to go far in this game.
I had the chance to catch up with the top-notch Rebel rookie, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest influence and help in developing your game thus far?
Mathew: Jesse Wallin, my coach right now, in the last year and a half I’ve learned so much from him, which has elevated my game to the player I am today. We are always talking, and looking for ways to improve.
What do you see being your best attributes as a hockey player?
Mathew: I think my best attributes are my skating and physical play.
I liken you to a combination of Dion Phaneuf and Mike Green, is that a fair comparison, and is there an NHLer you mold your game after?
Mathew: Yes, I like the sounds of that too! But, those guys are both tremendous players with big shoes to fill. I don’t know if I look to compare my game to anyone, but I would love to be like Drew Doughty one day.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the WHL?
Mathew: My first game was against the Moose Jaw Warriors, when Travis Harmonic was still playing for them, and it was pretty cool just knowing that he would be playing in the World Juniors that Christmas.
You’ve been a big time contributor to a Rebels club that has almost matched their win total from all of last year. I know you only played a handful of games with them in 2009-10, but what do you see as the biggest reason for the turn around in Red Deer?
Mathew: I think a big difference is the attitude and mind set that we have this season, approaching every game with a little swag, and like it’s a game 7 every night. Which has pushed are work ethic to another level against teams.
You were absolutely lights out at this year’s World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where does that experience rank on your hockey highlights?
Mathew: I think that has to be number one on my list so far.
For a defenseman, you’ve scored quite a few goals over the years in minor hockey with the Calgary Bronks and now with the Rebels, do you have one that stands out as your biggest?
Mathew: I think my first WHL goal stands out to me, the first game of the season, on my first shift and first shot. I was pretty overwhelmed.
Your name is coming up as a top prospect for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and you’ve been lucky enough to play with one of the best in the class of 2011 in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Have you learned anything from how he has handled himself this year, that you can use while looking ahead to next season?
Mathew: Ryan is one of the best players I’ve ever stepped on the ice with, and the thing I’ve learned from him is always carry yourself with great humility. He understands his dream is still ahead of him and is willing to do anything to get there. He works hard everyday, and I just try to keep up.
A lot of guys like to talk trash on the ice, what is the funniest hockey chirp you’ve heard while playing?
Mathew: There some pretty creative guys when it comes to trash talking, but one of the best guys out there is Justin Weller. Wellsy, seems to have a endless supply of jokes, whether there about your game, style, looks, you name it.