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Robert Morris goalie's work with veterans groups helps to earn coveted hockey nomination
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 2/24/2021
Feb. 24—For years, every game day at Clearview Arena, we had the same routine. About 90 minutes before faceoff, my broadcast partner Mike Prisuta and I would head down from the broadcast deck and make our way to ice level and go through the team entrance. On the way to the coaches' office for our pre-game interview before Robert Morris hockey games, we'd see goalie Dyllan Lubbesmeyer going through his pregame ritual.
Diligently juggling tennis balls and bouncing them off the wall to sharpen hand-eye coordination. Away from the rest of the team. In his own corner of the entranceway near the locker room. Keeping every reflex sharp just in case he was called upon.
For his first two years, that didn't happen much, as Lubbesmeyer suited up behind all-time program wins leader Francis Marotte. Then senior transfer Justin Kapelmaster in 2019-20. The Minnesota native saw the ice only 15 times in his first three years.
But Lubbesmeyer's patience has paid off in his senior year. He has racked up a 5-2 record and a 2.68 goals against average while sharing time with freshman Noah West and junior Reid Cooper.
"I learned a lot from guys like Marotte and Kapelmaster," Lubbesmeyer said in a recent "Breakfast With Benz" podcast. "They have been guys I looked up to, and l have seen what they have done around the rink, in terms of habits and being a professional. And when I get my opportunity, have fun with it, play hard, and do well for the team."
That kind of perseverance and team attitude wasn't lost on his coaching staff. Nor on the college hockey landscape at large. Also noticed was his off-ice performance in the classroom as well as his dedication to military veterans causes. All of which earned Lubbesmeyer a nomination as one of six finalists for this year's Hockey Humanitarian Award.
The award is presented annually to "college hockey's finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism."
Lubbesmeyer is the third Colonials men's hockey player (Furman South, David Friedman) to be recognized as a nominee and its first finalist. Four players on the women's team have been recognized over the years as well, as the award is granted irrespective of gender.
Think of it as college hockey's Walter Payton Award (NFL). It is presented at Frozen Four Weekend, which will be in Pittsburgh this year.
Lubbesmeyer was a member of the Colonial Leadership Academy program in each of his sophomore, junior and senior years at RMU, a group that helps to promote and hone leadership skills amongst all student-athletes at Robert Morris. He has been a member of Phi Beta Sigma's honors society for three years as well.
Lubbesmeyer says that it's the work he does with veterans groups back in Minnesota that matters the most to him. Most of that has to do with recruiting runners and raising funds for races that benefit families of fallen vets.
"I like to train with aspiring military candidates. Special operations or infantry," Lubbesmeyer said. "I try to run ruck marches, 5Ks, and different events that are donated to military organizations. I've befriended and trained with other athletes that want to pursue special operations in the military. I've opened up my cabin and brought them up north to train."
In Minnesota, he took part in a 12-hour ruck march — with a backpack with 40 pounds of weights — that gives proceeds to the Lone Survivor Foundation. And he's going to participate in this year's Memorial Day flag planting ceremonies at Fort Snelling, Minn.
"I like to put myself in the shoes of those guys who are protecting our freedoms and protecting our country. I plan to do things like that once I graduate, too."
Lubbesmeyer insisted that all that training has helped him in his hockey development as well.
"I got to Robert Morris and I realized I really needed to get into the right shape to be a college athlete. After stinking on our fitness test, I took it upon myself to get into that kind of training. It just fit with getting in shape for hockey," Lubbesmeyer said.
In Pittsburgh, Lubbesmeyer won a 5K called the "Joggin' for Frogmen Foundation," which helps pay for the tuition of kids whose fathers were killed while on SEAL teams.
"We're really proud of Dyllan," head coach Derek Schooley said after the nomination was announced. "He's a guy who found his niche as a college athlete. He has consistently been our hardest worker. He trains every day. He is very dedicated. He is really involved in the campus. He gets good grades. He is on our student athletic advisory committee. Over the summer, it's those things that he does away from the ice that truly define him as a person."
With all that going on, plus RMU's postseason looming after Senior Night on Thursday, those juggling skills may come in handy for Lubbesmeyer in more ways than one.
Lubbesmeyer joins me for Wednesday's podcast. We talk about his time at RMU. His nomination. His plans for post-college life. And the Colonials' upcoming postseason.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at email@example.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.
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