Published Date Written by Jack Flagler
When Brian Dumoulin decided to forego his senior season at Boston College and sign a professional contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, he became the first player from Maine to ink his name on a pro deal in over two years. Dumoulin, a Biddeford native, recognizes that when he heads to the pros he will go representing both his community and his state.
"I think about it, and obviously I want to keep helping Maine grow in hockey and help the sport grow in New England. It's awesome to be representing Maine in my position," he said.
"I'm proud of being from Maine and I always love going back there. Probably my favorite place on earth is Biddeford, Maine. I'm very thankful to the city and the state, and I hope to represent them proudly and continue on hopefully to the NHL," he said.
Jamie Gagnon coached Dumoulin and the Biddeford Tigers to two Class A state hockey titles in 2007 and 2008. Then, Gagnon added another Class A title as head coach of Thornton Academy this season. Gagnon says Dumoulin's work ethic and personality have made him an easy player for the Biddeford community to root for.
"The community has really taken tremendous pride in Brian because he does things the right way and they recognize and appreciate when good things happen to good people. Brian comes from an extremely strong family background. He epitomizes the story of Biddeford, coming from a small town and a close family," Gagnon said.
Rich Reissfelder, the current Biddeford hockey head coach who worked with Dumoulin as an assistant in 2007 and 2008, echoes Gagnon's thoughts. "As great a player as Brian is, he's an even better person, and that's what makes the community love him so much," Reissfelder said.
"He'll skate with the high school kids when he comes back on Christmas break, we'll have him come out. He works with the little kids a lot. He'll play pond hockey. I have a pond behind my house he comes out and skates with the kids. They love him."
Although Dumoulin is the first Maine player to sign a pro contract since 2009, when Cheverus High School standout and Windham native Matt Duffy inked a deal with the AHL's Rochester Americans, Dumoulin said he considers hockey in Maine to be "on the rise" based on the competition he has seen in Hockey East play the last three seasons.
Dumoulin's teammate both at BC and the junior level with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, goalie Brian Billett, is a Kennebunk High School grad who is entering his sophomore season with the Eagles. Like Dumoulin in 2010, Billett won a national title with the Eagles as a freshman, and now will continue on to seek another ring.
Mark Anthoine, a Lewiston native, scored 12 goals in his sophomore season with the University of Maine. He will look to step up to a bigger role next season with UMaine as the Black Bears will lose four of their top five point scorers from the previous season. Greely High School alum Kevin Hart will enter his junior season of Providence College after playing in all 38 games for the Friars last season, notching two goals and eight assists. Kevin's brother Brian will play for Harvard next year in the ECAC.
Rich Reissfelder said he is not sure if the current crop of talent in Maine is indicative of the state becoming more of a hockey hotbed, or if it is just part a natural cycle. But he says he has noticed players developing skills at a younger age, and he says that may come down to coaching.
"When I grew up playing, our coaches hadn't played hockey. They were dads just out there helping out," Reissfelder said.
"Now, you're starting to see more and more kids who played hockey who graduated (from high school), went to college and decide they love the game so much they want to start coaching it. Now, you actually have someone who is knowledgeable about the game teaching an eight-year-old, and it's like anything, they're sponges at that age. They pick it up so quickly, it's a lot easier to teach."
Dumoulin is unquestionably at the forefront of Maine's crop of young hockey talent. The 6-foot 4, 210-pound 20-year-old ("you can't teach size" notes Reissfelder) says he hopes to contribute his puck-moving skills, strength and most importantly, his winning attitude to contribute at the professional level. Dumoulin has won hardware at every level he has played at so far in his career, starting with the two Class A state titles with Biddeford to a Eastern Junior Hockey League title in New Hampshire, and then on to two national titles with BC. He says he hopes to continue that trend in the pros.
"I had a similar feeling watching him in Tampa (in the Frozen Four) that I did watching him his junior year in high school," said Gagnon, who Dumoulin jokingly called his "good luck charm" after the coach attended both BC's national title victories in Tampa this spring and Detroit in 2010.
"There were times when he was taking over and you could tell he was ready for a new challenge. He will have to adapt to the speed of playing professionally, but he has the right personality and mentality to make it at the next level," Gagnon said.
Dumoulin will be joined in the pros by many of his colleagues at Boston College. Nine of the Eagles who won the national title in Tampa were drafted by NHL teams, including Chris Kreider, who signed with the New York Rangers and has already has made a contribution in the NHL. The winger from Boxford, Massachusetts scored what would end up being the game-winning goal in New York's crucial game six victory at home that kept the Rangers alive in their first round series against the Ottawa Senators and forced a game seven.
With both the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers eliminated from playoff contention, Dumoulin will spend the summer in Boston, working toward his degree in the Carroll School of Management. Then, he will attend a rookie prospect camp in Traverse City, Michigan to get a feel for his teammates and the pace of the pro game before starting a new hockey season in the fall.
When he does, the 20-year-old will have the added pressure of being under the microscope not just in his hometown of Biddeford but in the entire state of Maine. But Reissfelder said, "You're not going to find a better person. If he ends up becoming the greatest hockey player from the state, that's just icing on the cake."