The Extra Mile
Return of Kreider, Dumoulin Set Stage for BC's Run
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. Less than an hour after Boston College defeated Ferris State, 4-1, in the championship game of the 2012 Frozen Four, the questions regarding the futures of junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin and junior winger Chris Kreider began.
Kreider, a first-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2009, and Dumoulin, a second-round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes in the same draft, played integral roles in the Eagles' 19-game winning streak that culminated in the program's fifth national championship.
Unlike many other college hockey programs, Boston College has demonstrated the ability to hold onto its most coveted players for at least three years. After losing to Colorado College in the NCAA Tournament last season, BC wingers Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes, both with one year of eligibility remaining, gave up their senior seasons to sign professional contracts.
Still, keeping those two for three seasons helped the Eagles claim a Hockey East Championship before the loss to Colorado College halted another potential national championship run. For both Kreider and Dumoulin, the decision to return to Chestnut Hill for their junior seasons dealt with their development as hockey players and academic aspirations.
The presence of BC's iconic bench boss in Jerry York only solidified their choice.
"I knew I would be getting closer to my degree and developing another year under coach York, and it can only help me in the long run," Dumoulin said.
"It's an honor to play for him," he continued. "So every day in practice, every day in the game, you want to go out and work hard for that guy."
The ardor York demands from his players reveals itself in their willingness to alter their game to the needs of the club, rather than their own development. Kreider led BC in scoring this season with 23 goals and 22 assists. The most marked improvements in his game, however, came in the less glamorous necessities of college hockey. He was among BC's best two-players throughout the season, backchecking on every shift and hounding point men into turnovers on the penalty kill.
Kreider and Dumoulin are both expected to sign professional contracts in the coming days, if not already, ending their careers at BC. But their time as professionals will be better spent because of the extra year they experienced with the Eagles.
Following Saturday's national championship game, BC captain Tommy Cross pointed to two members of his class that opted to leave the program after their junior seasons. Both Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes signed pro deals following the loss to Colorado College. Even before that, though, they had options to leave school. Instead, they returned to Conte Forum, where they grew as players under the watchful eye of York and his staff.
"I have to mention Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes," Cross said. "Those guys were a huge part of our class, and they obviously aren't here this year, but they're still a part of it for us. And Cam was obviously a huge player our sophomore years, and Jimmy was, too, and I think the rest of us were a little more secondary roles. So to have primary roles for a lot of us the second time around is unbelievable."
"They're having terrific NHL careers right now," Dumoulin added. "Hats off to them. ... They did what was best for them. I still talk to them all the time, I still love them. They were my teammates when we won a national championship in 2010."
The loss to CC added even more motivation for Dumoulin and Kreider. With their eye on a second national championship in three years, they watched as the Eagles completed a turbulent first half, which held true for the earliest stages of the second half as well. Eventually, BC found the right mix to propel itself on the 19-game run.
"It paid off, the whole family we have here, we knew we had unfinished business," Dumoulin said. "This team was great. We went through that (bad) stretch. We stuck together, and I love all these guys. I couldn't be happier."