Dalman’s consistency sparks Champlin Park turn-around

Champlin Park junior Luke Dalman celebrates his game-winning goal against Buffalo Jan. 3 at the Champlin Ice Forum. Dalman has scored a goal in all but two of the Rebels 11 games. (Photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

Champlin Park junior Luke Dalman celebrates his game-winning goal against Buffalo Jan. 3 at the Champlin Ice Forum. Dalman has scored a goal in all but two of the Rebels 11 games. (Photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

The math makes sense, albeit barely when it comes to Luke Dalman and his incredibly consistent start to the Champlin Park boys hockey season.

A junior winger on the Rebels first line, Dalman has never scored two goals in a high school game.

Yet, as the Rebels head into this week with 11 games already played, Dalman leads the team with nine goals.

That means, if you add it up, he’s got nine one-goal games already this winter. Or, in other words, a goal in all but two of Champlin Park’s games.

“It’s pretty remarkable what he’s done,” admitted head coach Pat Janostin. “But we’re not really surprised. He is really good down low. He knows how to maneuver his body. And if you look at where most of his goals have come on the ice, that is why he’s been successful.”

Dalman’s most recent goal at home exemplified what Janostin spoke of.

In a 3-0 shutout victory over Buffalo Jan. 3, Dalman broke a scoreless draw late in the first period by driving to the net with the puck, slithering his way to get a shot off, then crashing the rebound to pounce on what his eighth of the year.

The next time out, with the Rebels knotted in a 2-2, third-period tie at Anoka, it was another big-time goal from Dalman that made it 3-2 in a game Champlin Park would go on to win 4-2.

That means last week alone, he added two more goals to his season total, extending his current goal-scoring streak to three games, surpassing last year’s total of seven.

And, to boot, both were game-winners.

“It seems like very time he’s scored this year it has come at a big moment of the game,” said Janostin. “His whole line has been a vital part to our team this year, and we’ve needed that out of him.”

That unit, which also consists of juniors Calvin Spencer and Bryce Plunkett, has helped spark a turn-around in the Rebels season.

Champlin Park stared the year 0-4-2, but a 3-1-1 run has the Rebels back near the .500 mark as 2013 gets going.

Dalman’s been the most consistent of the bunch, but there is a chemistry within the trio that is hard for other team’s to match up with.

“Back in Bantams, and through youth hockey, the three of us always played together,” said Dalman. “We were split up last year, but it’s been great being back with those guys. We work well together.”

They have the attributes to make it work. Plunkett appears to be the playmaker of the group, Spencer can shoot – and does – from just about anywhere in the offensive zone, and Dalman does the dirty work.

So far, that’s resulted in a start Dalman said he didn’t necessarily see coming.

“I didn’t know what to think before the year,” he admitted. “We knew we weren’t going to have many seniors, and that it was going to have to be us underclassmen that had to get the job done. That motivated me to work hard, but you never know what will happen.”

Janostin said Dalman’s most notable contribution has actually come off the ice, which is interesting considering his nine goals are six more than anybody else on the team has registered this long.

“When you put it like that it kind of sounds funny, but seriously, he’s been such a tremendous leader for us in the locker room,” Janostin said. “Really, Luke epitomizes what we want in a hockey player. His attitude is outstanding, all the time, and that is infectious with this team. We don’t have to tell him how to lead, because he just knows how to lead. He’s been great.”

He apparently knows how to score too, which is something else the Rebels were in dire need of this year.

But with Dalman’s emergence, and the goaltending the team has been getting, there are plenty of reasons for Champlin Park to be optimistic about the coming weeks.

“We’ve played some really good teams really tough,” said Dalman, alluding to close losses to Centennial, Andover and Maple Grove. “Now these past couple games we’ve had all three lines rolling, and that makes it easier and I think that has been the key to our last couple victories. We’ve had the whole team going, not just a few guys.”

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