It doesn’t surprise Dylan Samberg that he was sitting in the Buffalo Sabres locker room, wearing a hat with pieces of the goal net hanging from it, celebrating another title win. Between bites of pizza, and through plenty of smiles the 20 year old reflects on another fantastic season for the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The Bulldogs limited the high powered UMass Minutemen to just 18 shots on goal en route to an 3-0 victory in the National Championship game Saturday night. For Samberg, it is his second title in two years with the Bulldogs, so he isn’t a stranger to big game situations.
“It feels incredible, it’s something special to go back to back.” said Samberg post-game, “It’s something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life and I’m trying to enjoy the moment.”
He has plenty of reason to do so as well, the sophomore defender put on another fantastic performance for Scott Sandelin’s team, handling every shift with absolutely aplomb. That shouldn’t be a shock to those following his career so far, it seems like at every turn Samberg is playing key minutes in a crucial game.
This one feels a little bit more special for him though, and he said just as much.
“This is one of the best...No this definitely the best experience for me yet, being able to go back to back is just something so special.” explained Samberg
Considering his multiple medals on the international stage those are strong words from Samberg, but clearly full of meaning. Given that this is just his second year of NCAA eligibility, and the youth in the Bulldogs’ lineup, there is every chance in the world he could be part of a three peat team next year.
He was quick to praise his teammates and coaching staff for their ability to get ready for a powerhouse like Cale Makar and UMass so quickly. With just one day between games, against an opponent they’ve never played it is a tall order to put on a defensive showing like they did on Saturday.
“We obviously watch video and everything, then we went back and watched their game against Denver, it’s all about just sticking to your gameplan and just doing what got you this far.”
Those words alone should make him a favourite in the case of his future coaches, Samberg was again a stalwart on his pairing with Mikey Anderson. While Anderson grabbed a few points, including a goal, Samberg was a rock in the defensive end of the ice. He managed a few shots on net, but was also the first to get his body or stick in the shooting lanes to keep pucks away from Hunter Shepard in net.
Samberg credits his ability to play so well under pressure to playing in so many of these big games in his career.
“You know anytime you get into a big game experience like this you want to do your best and take advantage of it.”
It would seem he has done just that, playing big minutes on back to back National Championship teams is no small feat, even more so as a young player like Samberg. He improved his offensive output this year by six goals, and given his ability to play so well in major games like this, the Winnipeg Jets may have found another future stud for their defensive core.