Leading From the Back
Hobey Finalist Brian Dumoulin Has BC in Line for Another Trophy
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Writer
BOSTON On Friday night, Boston College won its 14th straight game when it beat Providence, 4-2, in the Hockey East semifinals. During that streak, the Eagles have allowed more than two goals just once. Goaltender Parker Milner has certainly been a big part of that, as he not only reclaimed the starting job he lost in December, but also morphed into one of the league's best goalies.
Just as important, though, has been a much-improved defense. Leading that resurgence has been Hobey Baker finalist Brian Dumoulin. The junior has been great at both ends of the ice for his entire BC career, but he has found a way to raise his game to an even higher level this season.
"He's had an outstanding year," BC coach Jerry York said earlier this week. "He's had a tremendous career here at BC. This is his third year with (BC), and there's been improvement in all facets of his game. Clearly he is one of the top defensemen in our league, and if you're in that category, you're one of the best in the nation.
"He certainly has an effect on the game, whether it's defensively, making a stop or breaking the puck out of the zone, or on offense. He's got some big goals for us recently. He's really been a key guy for us down the stretch."
While Dumoulin's 26 points this season put him behind last year's 33-point campaign, York said he has made better decisions with the puck and done a better job knowing when to jump into the offense.
At the other end of the ice, Dumoulin was recently named Hockey East's top defensive defenseman and a first-team all-star for the second straight season. There really isn't any way to statistically measure good defensive play, but Dumoulin's conference-leading plus-22 rating is telling. In fact, he has had a plus-22 rating or better in all three of his seasons at BC, and he is currently leading the Eagles in plus/minus for the second time in three years.
"It means a lot," Dumoulin said of the awards that are piling up. "It kind of reflects our team success. Being named defensive player of the year and a Hobey finalist is an honor. I'm very thankful for that. I just gotta keep playing my game and keep playing our team game, and the awards will take care of themselves. There's no need to worry about that or stress over that. Just worry about the next game, worry about the Hockey East final."
Listening to Dumoulin talk, you can tell that the recognition for his defensive play is the most rewarding. He said that's the area he thinks he has improved the most as the season has gone on.
"I think just keeping it simple," he said of his improvement in his own end. "I realize that I don't need any assists or any points to help us win. That's one of the reasons we've been successful, is that me and other defensemen haven't been taking as many risks as we were before. We're playing a smarter, simpler game. With that, points will come and wins will come. For me, I've just been trying to make good decisions when I have the puck and trying to eliminate turnovers and play high percentage hockey."
As an upperclassman, Dumoulin has also taken on a bigger leadership role both on the ice and away from the rink.
"We lost a lot of key players from last year and some key leaders," Dumoulin said. "Leadership has always been one of the strongest parts of this team. I know, my freshman year, we had very strong leaders. Last year, we had very strong leaders. I wanted to keep up that tradition and be a leader myself."