When the honors rolled in for Boston College defenseman Brian Dumoulin at the end of his sophomore season last spring, coach Jerry York didn’t know if the Biddeford, Maine, native could elevate his game to yet another level.
Dumoulin was named the Hockey East defensive defenseman of the year, earned the Bob Monahan Award as the top defenseman in New England, and garnered All-America first-team honors in 2010-11.
But Dumoulin has shown even more improvement in his junior year and was named one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, honoring the top college player in the nation. He also garnered league defensive defenseman of the year honors and was again named best defenseman in New England.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pounder is one of the reasons the Eagles will be competing in the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa. BC will face Minnesota in the second semifinal game Thursday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Although Dumoulin had fewer points this season (26 as opposed to 33 last year), he had more goals (six, twice as many as last season) and was even more of an impact player for the Eagles. He is also Hockey East-best plus-25.
“He had become one of the elite, elite players in the country as a sophomore,’’ said York. “Having said that, I think he’s even a notch better this year. He’s stronger, he’s heavier, his stick is heavier, and I think his shot is really improving. He never could really shoot the puck that well when he first came and he’s worked on it and he shoots it pretty good now. You’re an All-American as a sophomore and where do you go? But he wasn’t satisfied with his development at all. He’s a strong 225 and I think that has helped him a lot.’’
BC captain Tommy Cross said Dumoulin has evolved into a star.
“He does everything well,’’ said Cross. “He’s our top shutdown guy and he’s our top offensive D-man too. He does so much right and he’s found a way to get better every year. There’s been a physical maturity to his game that he has added. I think you saw it at the end of last year. He wins so many battles along the boards. Before, he was doing it because he was so crafty with his stick and now he’s doing it just with power, body positioning, and strength.’’
When Dumoulin was a freshman, the Eagles won their second national title in three years. He said that seems like another lifetime in some ways.
“I feel like I appreciate it and I realize how hard it was to actually win it, but I hadn’t experienced losing it and how bad it feels to lose the last game of the season,’’ said Dumoulin. “My whole life, even through high school and juniors, I had won the last game, so last year was my first experience to lose. It puts a perspective on how bad it is [to know] someone is going to be lifting that trophy and it’s not going to be you.’’
What made the loss to Colorado College in the NCAA West Regional semifinals all the more shocking is the level of talent BC had on the roster.
“That was, talent-wise, the best team I’ve ever been on, but it just goes to show you that it isn’t just talent that wins games,’’ said Dumoulin. “We ran into a hot team and that’s all that it takes.’’
Now it’s BC that goes in as the hottest team in the nation, having won 17 games in a row.
“We’re proud of our accomplishments, but even this week, we need to improve,’’ said Dumoulin. “[Minnesota-Duluth] beat us on faceoffs a lot [in the NCAA Northeast regional final]. It wasn’t just our centers losing it, it was our wings getting in there, it was the defense [needing to] get a clean breakout off the faceoffs so we still feel like we need to have higher standards for ourselves. Every team gets better as they play.’’
Whether this is Dumoulin’s last college season remains to be seen. He was selected by Carolina in the second round (No. 51 overall) in the 2009 NHL draft. Dumoulin went to Carolina’s development camp that summer before he started at BC.
He said the Hurricanes have put no pressure on him to leave school early.
“Coach [York] talks about our goals for the season [using] a telescope and a microscope,’’ said Dumoulin. “A microscope is focusing on a single [goal in the present]. Right now, my microscope is focusing on Minnesota and getting better while I’m here at BC.
“Obviously, you can’t help but think about your future and what you’re going to do and that’s part of the telescope, that’s going to come down the road.
“Everyone wants to play in the NHL, I want to play in the NHL. That’s something we’ll take care of at the end of the season.’’