Joe Dumais made his NCAA Division I head coaching debut this season — on an interim basis — while substituting behind the bench for Union bench boss Rick Bennett.

Dumais is in his third year as an assistant coach with the Flying Dutchmen, his sixth as a Division I assistant.

And next Thursday, he’ll coach in the NCAA Division I Frozen Four for the second time in three seasons, 13 years removed from his graduation from St. Dominic Academy in Auburn.

“The first time, everyone was so excited just to get there,” Dumais said. “I think this time around, of course we’re excited, the guys were excited to beat Providence to get to the Frozen Four, but this year, there’s much more of a business-like feeling to it all. The guys are excited, but they know there’s more to do.”

Dumais and fellow assistant Jason Tapp, a former Boston University standout goaltender, are Union’s top recruiters. They’ve also welcomed another former player with ties to Maine to their staff this year, former Maine Black Bear John Ronan, who is a volunteer assistant after finishing up his playing career.

The staff is familiar with the idea of preparing for a trip to the Frozen Four, college hockey’s grandest stage.

“Last time, it was all new, for all of us,” Dumais said. “Everyone looked around, we were in a bit of awe, and we glad to be there. This time, it’s just a different feeling. It’s not that we’re not happy to be here, of course we are. But there’s a feeling that we’re after a national championship.”

To do so, Dumais and the Dutchmen are going to have to defeat a formidable foe in Boston College, a team with which they are familiar, particularly in recent years.

“We beat them last year (in the NCAA tournament),” Dumais said. “I’m sure they still have a sour taste from that. Two years ago, when we went to the Frozen Four for the first time, they were there and won the national title. We’ve been around with them quite a bit.

“(Boston College) has so much offensive talent,” Dumais added. “They have the top line in the country, and they have the best player in Gaudreau. We’re looking forward to getting in there and grinding it out with them.”

Boston College goalie Brian Billett also is a Maine native playing in this year’s event, beginning with Brunswick High School before playing with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.

BC and Union boasted the top two offenses in the NCAA this season, with BC averaging 4.1 goals per game and Union coming in at 3.7. Union’s defense is also among the national leaders, allowing 2.05 goals per game, good four fourth in the NCAA.

One thing that may play into Dumais’ and Union’s favor: The Flying Dutchmen get to drive to the Frozen Four, being held this season in Philadelphia.

“That’s definitely going to make things easier,” Dumais said. “It’s so much more simple than trying to check gear, load up the bus, unpack everything. We’ll be able to take it more like a normal road game.”

Minnesota and North Dakota will faceoff in the other national semifinal. Union and BC will play at 5 p.m., while the Gophers and North Dakota are set for an 8:30 p.m. start.


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