If it was on, he watched.
But for the most part, Mathew Dumba had a difficult time following Team Canada during last year’s world junior championship.
The Red Deer Rebels defenceman and Minnesota Wild 2012 draft pick had been a long-shot trying out for the 2012 edition at only 17-years-old. Still, devastated, he trudged out — voice soft, eyes red — and faced the media 12 months ago as one of the team’s early morning cuts.
“It was tough,” Dumba said. “It was kind of always in the back of my mind that I could have been there.
“It happens so fast so you have to be sharp coming in. I’m thankful I had that experience last year on this big ice surface and going through each day and knowing how quick it goes.
“I know the process now. I just have to focus on my game.”
Which, after Monday’s announcement at Hockey Canada headquarters, he is scheduled to do. Dumba was among the 37 players named to Canada’s 2013 world junior team selection camp. For a second year, the intense five-day audition is held down the road from his Northwest Calgary home at WinSport’s facilities. This time, instead of the world juniors being in his backyard — almost literally — between Calgary and Edmonton, they’re in Ufa, Russia.
However, his passion to represent Canada hasn’t changed.
“It’s going to mean a lot if I can crack that squad,” said Dumba to a crowd of reporters Monday. “That’s been my goal all year and I’ve been working really hard as of late to just be focused on the little details and push for a spot on this team.”
The 18-year-old smooth skating, hard-hitting blueliner is also one of 11 Western Hockey League players named to the roster and is joined by fellow local snipers Hunter Shinkaruk and Ty Rattie of Airdrie.
“This is a huge honour,” said Shinkaruk, captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers. “I remember when I was young and had a little hockey room at my house, I’d put on my Canada jersey and pretend I was playing in the world juniors.
“To be so close to that is something I could never have dreamed of.”
Shinkaruk had a scare, however, when he collided with Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones on Nov. 17 and awkwardly cut his leg. He required stitches and worked with medical teams in Medicine Hat and Calgary to get repaired in time.
“When I went to the bench, I looked down and my sock was full of blood,” Shinkaruk said. “I looked at the trainer and said to him, ‘Um. I think I got cut.’
“I was pretty scared because he was telling me to throw my helmet and gloves off ... I knew the selection camp roster was getting announced. All I made sure is I was back and ready for this camp.”
Shinkaruk, who returned to action over the weekend, has 17 goals and 22 assists in 27 games this season. Meanwhile, Rattie, a 2011 selection of the St. Louis Blues, was sitting fourth in WHL scoring with 17 goals and 25 assists in 26 games.
All three players no strangers to Hockey Canada, having played in the 2012 Canada-Russia challenge this summer along with fellow WHL-ers Laurent Brossoit and Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
To impress Team Canada brass and crack the defensive corps, Dumba knows he’s going to have to be physical — which is no different than his every day game.
“I think it’s a huge part of my game and that’s what I want to bring to camp,” he said. “In the Western League, I’ve been trying to bring that every game.
“Preparing myself for camp, it’s going to be physical and that’s how I want to play.”
ICE CHIPS . . . Also representing the Calgary Flames draft crop at the Canadian camp with Brossoit is Portland Winterhawks defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon ... Undrafted forward J.C. Lipon was rewarded with an invite, too, and deservedly so after his red-hot start to the 2012-13 season with the Kamloops Blazers. The 19-year-old Regina native has been atop the WHL scoring race for most of the season and leads at the moment with 22 goals and 33 assists in 31 games this season.
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