Since being drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Jets prospect Dylan Samberg has seemingly played in non-stop high pressure situations. The sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth already has two World Junior medals to his name, a bronze in 2018, and a silver medal in 2019 for the United States. In addition he’s collected an NCHC title this season, and was on UMD’s title winning team last year, and after Thursday night’s game he’ll play for another national title.
Even with these huge games around every corner, Samberg is taking it all in stride and absorbing the experience.
“Obviously it’s been a tremendous experience these last few years, playing in national championships, going back again we hope we can get the job done” Said Samberg after UMD’s 4-1 win over Providence.
The Bulldogs win did not come without it’s difficulties, Providence and their star goalie Hayden Hawkey battled them tooth and nail into the dying minutes of the game. While Samberg had a secondary assist on Billy Exell’s game winning goal, his off-the-glass empty netter sealed things for the Bulldogs. Yet he was modest in victory about the 100+ foot goal that included a bank shot off the glass.
“I wan’t trying to score!” he joked “I was just trying to clear it off the boards and it went in...Guess I’ll take it”
His pairing with Mikey Anderson was leaned on all night by head coach Scott Sandelin, in all situations, most notably a massive five on three penalty kill early in the third period. Samberg blocked a number of key passes or shot attempts as the Bulldogs fended off the early Providence attack.
Samberg knows how much it means to have his coaches’ faith in him to go out there in key situations and be able to succeed.
“Obviously it’s huge uh, you know it’s great to know he’s got that confidence in us to go out there and get it done, and we definitely did tonight.” explained Samberg.
He also credits his familiarity with Anderson as a partner as to why they’re able to play so well every night. Previously partners at the World Juniors tournament, and having played in a junior league together they’ve meshed well in their two years together.
“We’ve played together for the past couple years here, at World Juniors and a little bit in juniors so that really helps the familiarity and being comfortable on the ice. I feel like our styles mesh really well, and that’s also really helped.”
Samberg himself had a quiet night, but in the best possible way for UMD, he was a stabilizing presence on the back end. While players like Scott Perunovich and Cole Koepke were dart-like on the ice, weaving through players, Samberg was the cool, calm player with the puck.
Smooth in transition, picking his spots to jump up in the play well it was rare to see him caught out of position and when he was, he was able to use a smart stick to break up potential threats. Even the physical side of the game suited him just fine with UMD and Providence doled out a number of big hits.
With two years left in his college eligibility there is plenty left for Dylan Samberg to do, but at his very core he is looking more and more like a soon to be reliable option on the blue line. He is young in his age, but Dylan Samberg is already playing like someone many years his elder, and another national title game is only going to add to that.