Making it to the NHL is something that every young hockey player dreams of doing. From the moment they first lace up, they fantasize about skating out in front of thousands of fans in a big game. But for players that grow up in New England, they often dream of college hockey before turning pro. In some cases there is just as much history and glory surrounding teams like Boston College and Boston University.
Biddeford, Maine native Brian Dumoulin seems to be following just that path. He played a season in the Empire Junior Hockey League before continuing on to play college hockey at Boston College. After three seasons and two National Championships, he left college to join the AHL. While he is excited to be continuing his career, the path he has followed is exactly what he has always wanted.
“That was my goal as soon as I started playing hockey. Obviously I wanted to play professionally, but I also wanted to play Division 1 college hockey,” Dumoulin said. “It was great that I accomplished that goal.”
Boston College was the perfect fit for him for a number of reasons. “It just had a balance of everything. It was relatively close to home and my parents could go to every game,” said Dumoulin. “It’s a very good academic school and they have a tradition of winning. So it was a combination of things that made it an easy decision for me.”
Recently, Boston College has really established a tradition of winning. Since 2001, BC has won four National Championships. Two of those four came in 2010 and 2012, Dumoulin’s freshman and junior years. Most college hockey players are not lucky enough to win a Championship at all, let alone two in three years.
“I would say my best memory from BC is winning that first National Championship,” Dumoulin said. “It’s exciting to get that first National Championship and if you can do it your freshman year, that’s great.”
Before committing to Boston College, Dumoulin played for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs of the EJHL. While it is not one of the better known leagues in junior hockey, it was a good fit for him. Since it was his plan to continue onto college hockey, he saw playing for the Jr. Monarchs as a chance to prepare of that. He wanted to be as ready as was possible.
“I had already had a relationship with Sean Tremblay and I left Biddeford after my junior year,” said Dumoulin. “I knew he was a good coach and he developed good players. It was a no brainer for me to go to the Jr. Monarchs. It really helped me step in freshman year.
After finishing his season with the Jr. Monarchs, Dumoulin was all set to start at BC. Before he could do that, he was in Montreal for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. No player really knows what to expect going into a draft like that. It was a great experience for him when the Carolina Hurricanes selected him in the second round, 51st overall. Although the Hurricanes did not hold onto him, it is something he enjoyed. At the 2012 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes traded him along with Brandon Sutter and that year’s first round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Jordan Staal.
“You never know what team you’re going to go to. But it was awesome being there in Montreal and watching it happen,” Dumoulin said. “It was a lot of excitement and then relief when your name comes up on the board.”
To start the 2012-2013 season, Dumoulin chose to forgo his final season at BC to join the Penguins organization. He ended up spending the whole season in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The number of games doubles in professional hockey and that was what he struggled with most in adjusting. But he worked hard to stay in shape.
“The length of the season was the hardest. It’s almost double what I played in college. That was by far the biggest transition. Having more than two games a week was tougher for me,” Dumoulin said of his transition. “I took more rest when it was needed. You have to make sure you’re doing the right things and taking care of yourself when you’re off the ice.”
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins made it all the way to the Conference Finals in the playoffs. It provides great experience for a young player to get to play in the postseason during his first season in the league. It is a whole different atmosphere than during the regular season.
“It was exciting. Its always exciting come playoff time since you’re one of only 16 teams that make it,” Dumoulin said. “It was good that we had a long run into it and that I was able to learn what the playoffs were like.”
It was a little bit of a surprising run for Wilkes-Barre. The team had a strong season, but they finished the season third in their division and qualified with the fifth spot in the conference for the playoffs. To make it to the Conference Finals, they had to beat the Providence Bruins in the Conference Semi-Finals. The Bruins had the best record in the league during the regular season. What was the secret to the success of Wilkes-Barre?
“It was depth,” Dumoulin answered. “We had some older skilled guys that really stepped up bringing us into the playoffs and come playoff time. That helped us out a lot. We had great depth.”
Now, Dumoulin is well into his offseason training and is preparing for his second season playing professional hockey. He is trying to work out and make sure he can get on the ice as much as possible because he has his eyes on a shot at the NHL. In order to get that shot, he knows that there are still things that he needs to work on.
“My consistency. It’s important to bring the some consistent effort,” Dumoulin said. “That’s something at the beginning of the year that I struggled with. So if I can continue to do that, hopefully good things will happen.”
Throughout his career so far, he has had a lot of great coaches that have shaped him as a player. Those coaches have helped him get to this point where he has a shot at a spot on an NHL roster. He cannot credit one person as having the biggest influence on the player that he is now.
“It’s not just one person, it’s a combination of my coaches throughout my career that have influenced me. My coaches all the way from when I was younger, through high school, the Jr. Monarchs, and BC,” Dumoulin said. “All those coaches have had huge impacts on my career. They’ve all helped me develop as a player and a person. I thank them. Obviously my parents have impacted me to and I thank them for always driving me places. So it’s been a combination of my coaches and my parents that have been the biggest influence on me.”
Next season, Dumoulin will work hard to earn a shot to prove himself in Pittsburgh. He hopes to have his first chance to suit up for an NHL game. Either way, fans can expect to see a big defenseman that works hard to help his team.