It wouldn’t be a normal hockey season for Mathew Dumba if he wasn’t selected to play in a prestigious event above and beyond his duties with the Red Deer Rebels.
The 18-year-old star defenceman and Minnesota Wild prime prospect was named to the Team WHL roster for a pair of Subway Series games versus Team Russia on Nov. 14-15 in Vancouver and Victoria.
“It’s awesome and it’s always a privilege to be able to play in something like the Subway Series,” Dumba said on Thursday.
The Calgary native has appeared in numerous national and international events, such as the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge and the world under-17 and 18 championships.
“Ever since I was 15 and 16 I’ve always had some kind of event going on,” he said. “The Subway Series is great for the Canadian Hockey League, teams from all three leagues get to play against the best guys from Russia. And, of course, it helps prepare guys for the world junior camp.”
Dumba was a late cut at last December’s Canadian junior team selection camp and has every intention of making the grade this time around.
“For sure, that’s one of my goals this year and I’m going to be working hard to get there,” he insisted.
Dumba is one of three rearguards who will play in both Subway Series games, the others being Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
As Dumba noted, the series is part of the evaluation process for Team Canada for the 2013 World Junior Championship. Kevin Pendergast of Hockey Canada helped select the Team WHL lineups which includes players who could potentially perform in a fourth-line role with the national squad, explaining the presence of Oil Kings forwards Mitch Moroz and Travis Ewanyk in both games.
Moroz and Ewanyk have 11 points (4g,7a) between them in 13 games this season.
(See the entire WHL Subway Series rosters in Scoreboard on Page B 4).
l Rebels assistant coach Bryce Thoma will guide his own team next week at Calgary’s Father David Bauer Arena, the site of the four-day Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup starting Thursday.
If he’s feeling any pressure in regards to being the bench boss of two-time defending champion Team Alberta, Thoma is doing a fine job of hiding those feelings.
“I think every year is a new year and at the end of the day you can only put so much pressure on yourself or the team,” said Thoma. “There are completely new players every year. We do draw on past successes and we hope we can enjoy success again this year.”
Thoma will be able to closely monitor the performances of four Rebels prospects on the Alberta roster, players who have already signed education contracts with the WHL team.
“They are guys we’re familiar with,” said Thoma, in reference to defenceman Austin Strand and forward Grayson Pawlenchuk, Brayden Burke and Mason McCarty.
“Strand is a big defenceman and a pretty physical guy. Pawlenchuk is a good two-way forward and little Brayden Burke brings a very offensive skill set. Mason McCarty is another very good two-way forward who by all accounts has had a very good start to the season.”
Meanwhile, Thoma will also keep a close eye on three other Rebels 2012 bantam draft picks. Netminder Taz Burman and forward Adam Musil will suit up for Team B.C. and forward Meyer Nell is on the Manitoba roster.
“I’ll get to see how these seven guys stack up among the top 80 guys in Western Canada,” said Thoma.
Alberta has owned the U16 Challenge Cup since the inception of the tournament in 2009. Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba was the captain of the 2009 team, which defeated Manitoba in a thrilling final at Blackfalds.
On the move: Was Chad Robinson excited at the prospect of joining the Brandon Wheat Kings earlier this week? Is Mitt Romney somewhat eccentric? “I think I can bring some leadership and be a contributor to this team, so I am looking forward to that,” Robinson, a native of nearly Minnedosa, Man., told the Brandon Sun after being dealt to the Wheat Kings by the Red Deer Rebels in return for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. “I’m absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t be more excited to be a Brandon Wheat King and I’m looking forward to playing for the Wheat Kings moving forward here. Growing up watching the Wheat Kings as a younger guy, it will be pretty special.” Robinson, 19, realized he was no longer in the Rebels’ plans and requested a trade. “It was sort of a mutual agreement, I guess you could say. I just wasn’t in the team’s plans for this year and moving forward I thought it would be more beneficial to ask for a trade out of there and move on . . . And absolutely, (Brandon) was at the top of the list.” Robinson was minus-1 in his Wheat Kings debut — a 4-3 loss at Victoria on Tuesday — and picked up an assist and was plus-1 in a 3-2 Brandon win 24 hours later at Vancouver.