Crunch's Dumont Continues Push to Make NHL

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Gabriel Dumont’s goals have remained the same since he was a rookie six years ago.

A veteran who has competed in more than 400 AHL games in the Montreal organization, Dumont signed with Tampa Bay last summer with the belief that he could earn a call-up to the Lightning.

Dumont has registered 10 points in 17 games with the Syracuse Crunch this season, as he continues to push for another opportunity in the NHL.

“You always want to work on everything,” Dumont said. “You ask any player. Everybody wants to get better, get faster, get stronger, shoot the puck better. I think the goal is — no matter hold old you are — is to keep improving every day. As long as you’re improving, you won’t fall off the radar.”

Dumont got off to a hot start with Syracuse, and posted eight points in his first five games. The 26-year-old center was held off the scoresheet for eight games, and then missed 14 out of the next 15 due to injury.

Dumont returned to the lineup last Wednesday, and recorded a pair of points over the weekend.

“Sometimes the puck is just finding you and finding the back of the net. Things are rolling and you’re going and going. You see that from every player,” Dumont said. “As long as your effort, work ethic and intensity is the same, then it’s all going to come back at some point.”

For Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Dumont’s tenacity is one of his biggest strengths.

“He’s tough to play against because of the energy he brings day in and day out,” Groulx said. “He’s a fierce competitor, and that’s what he brings to our team.”

Dumont, the Canadiens’ 2009 fifth-round draft pick who skated in 21 games with Montreal, has become a consistent producer at the AHL level. The Quebec native has recorded 97 goals and 116 assists in 406 regular season contests.

This season, Dumont has been used in a more defensive role.

“We have a skilled group of forwards, so this year I’ve got the role more of being a shutdown guy, and more time on the PK and playing against the other team’s best line every night,” Dumont said of his role. “Also, being a spark for the team when needed, and being the guy who shows the way to play on the ice.”

Groulx described Dumont as a selfless player — one that cares more about guiding the Crunch to the playoffs than padding his own stats.

“He’s not looking at his points, power play time or stuff like that,” Groulx said. “That shows the kind of individual he is. He’s a team-first guy.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Gabriel Dumont, right, battles for the puck against the Senators' Jason Akeson at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.