Scoring state tournament-winning double-overtime goals, suiting up for your favorite college hockey team, hearing your name called at the NHL draft. Hermantown’s Dylan Samberg is living out his dreams.
The highest-ever drafted Hermantown Hawk (43rd overall) is also a pretty cool dude.
MHJ: What was the NHL draft experience like in Chicago?
Dylan Samberg: It was pretty crazy just going to the draft, let alone actually being drafted. It was something I had always dreamed of. It’s a cool city. We did some sight-seeing and all that. Then when we got to the rink, and once my name got called, I was just like, ‘Wow,’ and then a sigh of relief.
MHJ: You grew up a UMD Bulldogs fan. How does it feel to be on campus gearing up for your freshman year?
Samberg: It’s surreal. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little kid. Now that it’s finally here, it’s kind of weird that I’m actually one of those guys.
MHJ: AMSOIL Arena is still pretty new. How are you liking the facilities?
Samberg: Everything is really nice. I haven’t seen many other places like this. Locker room, training facilities—everything is top notch.
MHJ: Have you always been a defenseman?
Samberg: I actually was a forward from the beginning until my second year of Bantams—I was 14 or 15 when I switched. I was always really small growing up, but when I got to my second year of Bantams the coaches said they needed more help on the blue line. I wasn’t sure I was going to be playing too much as a forward, so I was like, ‘You know, what the heck—I’ll give it a shot.’ I moved back there and I started to get taller pretty quickly and it all worked out.
MHJ: Do you think having that experience at forward and just playing different positions helps give you a better sense of the game?
Samberg: Oh, absolutely. Any time you can play a different position, you can see how the game works from that perspective. It definitely raises your hockey IQ. You can read the game better and be prepared if at some point you are put in different positions.
MHJ: Shoutout to any of your coaches in Hermantown?
Samberg: Pat Andrews was the Bantam coach for both of my years. He was small at that age, too. He gave me confidence. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter how small you are. If you want to be a player, you can be a player.’ He helped me transition to defense and helped me move on to high school and continue developing. Now he’s the head coach this year after coach Bruce Plante retired. He had a great career and I’m really honored to be able to finish it with him with those two state championships. I know it meant a lot to him. I wouldn’t be where I am without those two. They give me constant support and constant feedback.
MHJ: What was it like watching the Hawks’ teams before you lose six consecutive state championship games?
Samberg: Even when I was younger, there was still that heartbreak. I definitely felt it. There’s definitely a sour taste in your mouth when you see your community losing. It made me push myself to work harder, so that when I got to that level, we could win it all. And once we finally did two years ago and again this past year, it’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s hard to explain.
MHJ: Rumor has it you were the team prankster. Can you confirm or deny?
Samberg: Yeah, I was always one of those guys. I like to keep it light in the locker room and keep the tension out. Once we get on the ice, it’s all business. But after that, when we get back in the locker room, well, it’s a new thing every day. Hiding stuff or taping someone’s entire stick. I like doing some dumb stuff to try to bring everyone together.
MHJ: The best part about being on a hockey team in Minnesota is the camaraderie, right?
Samberg: Oh, yeah. You’re here. Why not enjoy it? I’ve known all of those guys ever since I was 5 or 6 years old. To be able to finish my high school career with them really meant a lot.
Size: 6-foot-3, 190 pounds
College: Minnesota Duluth
NHL Draft: 43rd overall (second round), Winnipeg Jets
Dylan Samberg won the Class AA Section 7 individual golf title in 2016 and placed 12th at the state tournament.
How far can you drive the ball? 300 yards
Favorite golfer? I like Bubba. Big old lefty power.
Do you have a nickname? Dyl or Samby.
Any superstitions? I take my left glove off after every shift.
Favorite TV show? The Office.
Favorite meal? Steak and potatoes.