ORONO — The switch didn’t go on overnight. Rather, Joe Dumais’ ascent to the college hockey coaching ranks began — at least in his mind — when he was worried more about which girl he had a crush on, and how he was going to get his homework done before practice.

“I think I knew when I was in middle school,” Dumais said. “I wanted to coach. I really did.”

Four years removed from living out another dream and playing four years of NCAA hockey for Quinnipiac — as a captain, no less — Dumais has settled nicely into his long-term goal. The Auburn native is now in his third season as the assistant coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies’ hockey team.

“UConn’s a great place to be,” Dumais said. “It’s a great place to work, and obviously the athletic department here is one of the best in the country. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

After playing at Quinnipiac — and against Bruce Marshall’s Huskies — for four seasons, Dumais became a graduate assistant coach at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. There, he helped coach one of the nation’s top club hockey teams, and he parlayed that experience into a coaching job with Youngstown of the North American Hockey League.

“I was the head coach of the triple-A team there, and the assistant with the North American team,” Dumais said. “I had the best of both worlds, really.”


His AAA team surprised the league and made it to the national tournament. There, UConn coach Bruce Marshall was watching, hoping to recruit a player or two. Instead, he found a coach.

“He was there watching, and he liked the way our team played,” Dumais said. “They had just lost (assistant coach) Brian Meisner to Alaska-Fairbanks, so he talked to me and offered me the job.”

Three years into his career, Dumais hasn’t lost an ounce of love for what he’s doing. Saturday, he and Marshall and assistant Mike Coppola coached the Huskies to a season-opening 3-3 tie in Orono against a stacked University of Maine team.

“We weren’t satisfied, obviously you can’t be satisfied with a tie,” Dumais said. “But we were satisfied with the way we competed. We came in here and played the No. 7 team in the country, with probably the best player in the country.”

Some day, Dumais said, he hoped to be the guy in charge, whether at UConn or elsewhere.

“I think everybody has aspirations to be at the top of their field, and in coaching that means head coaching aspirations,” Dumais said. “But right now, I’m enjoying where I’m at at UConn. I’m doing a ton of recruiting, some traveling. It’s great.”

Dumais left on a two-week trip to British Columbia this week, while his Huskies will next skate at Merrimack in another Hockey East non-conference game Saturday.

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