He's not one to look at the numbers, but Regina native Matt Dumba is having his best season yet in the National Hockey League, with 10 goals and 38 points in 69 games.
"I more look at other guys [stats] rather than myself," the 23-year-old told battlefordsNOW prior to Saturday's game against Edmonton. "I think if I get caught up in it and pay too much attention to it, then I kind of get away from my game. You can play really good games without getting points and vice versa."
The right-handed defenceman, who moved from Regina to Calgary before he was 10, had eight family members watching Saturday in Edmonton as the Wild dropped a 4-1 score to the Oilers. He's still got plenty of family still living in Regina, and has family in Prince Albert as well. Because he moved when he was so young, however, there's not too much Dumba remembers about living in his home province.
"My dad built a house there, I kind of remember that," he said. "Had a rink in the background, but I was just little. That's all I remember."
With the Wild in the Central Division, Dumba said trips to Canada aren't as frequent as they used to be. Before 2013, the Wild played in the Northwest Division along with Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, but that all changed by the time Dumba made it to the NHL in 2013 after a junior career with Red Deer (he later played with Portland in the WHL during the 2013-14 season).
"That's one of the tough parts about living in the United States," Dumba said. "It's nice, having the family come up tonight. It's always special."
Dumba's junior career was a different story. He spent the majority of it not far from Calgary, dressing in 199 WHL games with the Red Deer Rebels. After he was drafted seventh overall by Minnesota in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Dumba had a chance to represent Canada at the World Junior Championship in Sweden.
Canada finished in a disappointing fourth place that year, but two seasons later Dumba came home to Calgary with a gold medal around his neck, this time from the World Championships in Russia.
Dumba said he feels the biggest change in his game since his rookie year in 2013-14 has come from improving his consistency.
"I always knew I had the skill and what it took to be here, but it's learning the game and maturing and knowing how to manage games," he said. "There's a lot of responsibility that comes along with that, and I think a lot of young guys don't understand that ... It's kind of crazy how those two go hand-in-hand, just the maturity and consistency of your game."
Dumba said his teammate Jared Spurgeon, another right-handed defenceman who grew up in Alberta, helped him a lot.
"Watching him, how efficient he is on the ice and just how he portrays himself as a pro, [I] get tips from him always," Dumba said of his 28-year-old teammate. "Now that we both have big roles on this team, it makes it that much more fun. Our D-core now has been together for the past couple years now, three or four years, so we're getting more and more comfortable with each other and our chemistry is just growing."
With the Wild currently in third place in the division and five points up on ninth place in the conference, Dumba said he hopes he and their blueline, which has combined for 35 goals this season, can help secure a playoff spot. Their next game is Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, who are currently just five points back of the Wild.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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