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Dolyny looks back on rookie season

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Some say the best impression you can make is a good first impression.

Local first-year pro Rustyn Dolyny did that—and more—two weeks ago as his Muskegon Fury of the United Hockey League captured the Colonial Cup in a six-game series over Elmira—capping it off with a 2-1 overtime victory May 4.

“It was neat thing to [win it] at home, especially in overtime,” said Dolyny, who was back here for a few days last week before heading back to East Lansing to take summer classes at Michigan State University.

“We came together as a team and won the games we had to,” he added.

The 25-year-old, who stands 6’1” and weighs 195 pounds, led all rookies in playoff scoring with 11 points and played a pivotal role in the Fury’s cup run.

He was fourth in rookie scoring during the regular season with 55 points (30 goals/25 assists)—good enough for a spot on the UHL’s all-rookie team.

His biggest learning experience was the number of games, Dolyny said. The Fury played 91 games altogether this past season—nearly double his schedule as a college player with MSU.

“It was a good experience . . . you have to pace yourself here and there and pick your spots.

“You always look back on a season and think what you could have done better,” he added. “[But] I had a half-decent year. I’m really pleased with how things went.”

Dolyny said moving up the ranks from the Muskies to junior hockey to college has been a smooth route as he’s taken his development one year at a time.

And there was a slight Northwestern Ontario flavour on the Fury to ease the transition. Two of Dolyny’s older teammates, Bruce Ramsey (Dryden) and Derek Landmesser (Thunder Bay), are from the region.

Still, Dolyny slipped into “back where I’m from . . .” stories more often than not when getting to know his other teammates.

“It’s funny. A lot of the guys think there’s not much to do in Northwestern Ontario. It’s one of the greatest places to live, especially if you’re an outdoors person,” he said on his past defences of his hometown.

He admitted visits back to Rainy River District have been far and few between. But he keep tabs on his family, friends, and former local coaches when he can.

“[During the season] I talk to my dad [Roger] quite often. We just chit and chat. I keep in touch with all my friends back here.

“Whenever I see [my former coaches], we stop and talk about how things are going,” he said. “It’s always nice they keep in touch.”

Dolyny isn’t sure what’s next after he finishes up his four classes at MSU this summer to earn his degree in civil engineering. Undrafted by an NHL team, he only signed a one-year contract with the Fury and is weighing his options.

“I’d go back to Muskegon. But we’ll see if something comes up,” said Dolyny. “It’s never fun not knowing but that’s the hockey life. You have to move around.”

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