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UMD men's hockey: Hermantown's Samberg has assist in NHL debut as Jets shut out Red Wings

Dylan Samberg, the former Minnesota Duluth and Hermantown Hawks defenseman, was credited with an assist just 5:41 into his first NHL game on Thursday. He also led the Jets in blocked shots with five.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings center Robby Fabbri (14) and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg (54) battle for the puck in the second period at Little Caesars Arena on Jan 13, 2022 in Detroit.
Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports
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DETROIT — Hermantown native Dylan Samberg made his National Hockey League debut on Thursday night with the Winnipeg Jets, and it only took him five minutes and 41 seconds to pick up his first NHL point as the Jets topped the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 at Little Caesars Arena.

Samberg, the former Minnesota Duluth and Hermantown Hawks standout defenseman, was credited with the second assist on the first goal of the night for the Jets — a shot by Andrew Copp from below the end line that went in off Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic.

Paired on the blue line with another former Hermantown and UMD defenseman, Neal Pionk, Samberg had a team-high five blocked shots as the shorthanded Jets threw him out there on the penalty kill as well. Samberg was also credited with three hits and a plus-1 rating in his 17:52 of ice time.

Asked after the first period Thursday, Samberg told TSN that playing with Pionk "absolutely" helped with his quick transition into the lineup after getting called up from the taxi squad that morning.

"I've been fortunate enough to train with Neal over the past two seasons in the summer," Samberg said on TSN. "I've learned a lot from him. He's a great player who has done a lot in this league and he's a great guy to lean on."

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In addition to Hermantown’s Pionk and Samberg, the Jets’ lineup — which was depleted due to COVID-19 protocols — on Thursday also included former Bulldog and Duluth East Greyhound Dominic Toninato.

Both Toninato and Pionk found themselves in the penalty box together late in the game after taking back-to-back penalties. The Red Wings pulled their goalie to create a 6-on-3 advantage, but came up empty. The Jets were able to clinch the win with a shorthanded goal shortly before Toninato — who took the second penalty — was released.

Samberg is the 11th Bulldog to play an NHL game this season and the seventh member of the 2017-18 Bulldogs to have played in the NHL game. That team is still two shy of the nine from the 2016-17 Bulldogs that Pionk and Toninato both played for before turning pro.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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