Quinnipiac associate head coach Joe Dumais, far left, a 2001 St. Dom’s graduate, with the fifth-year forwards who returned to Quinnipiac this season, from left, Ethan de Jong, Desi Burgart, Michael Lombardi and TJ Friedmann, after the Bobcats won their first national title Saturday in Tampa, Fla. Rob Rasmussen/P8Photos.com

Quinnipiac was too close to achieving something special for Joe Dumais to leave.

So Dumais, a 2001 St. Dominic Academy graduate who helped the Saints win back-to-back Class A state hockey championships in 1999 and 2000, took himself out of consideration to become head coach of the Union College men’s hockey team last offseason.

It was the second straight offseason Dumais had been running for an NCAA Division I head coaching job, having interviewed for the University of Maine job in the spring of 2021.

Dumais, Quinnipiac’s associate head coach, knew the Bobcats had a chance to earn the school’s first Division I national championship, in any sport. They were on the doorstep of the 2022 Frozen Four, but lost to the University of Michigan in the regional quarterfinals.

Sticking around paid off Saturday when Quinnipiac, using a Dumais, defeated the University of Minnesota 3-2 in overtime to win the national title.

“The main reason why I came back to Quinnipiac is not that I didn’t like Union or my wife didn’t like it there, but it’s more of I wanted to be a part of this national championship at Quinnipiac,” Dumais said. “I was hoping it would come sooner, it took seven years, but it was worth every second. It’s something that I will never forget — it was just incredible.”


Dumais said another reason he decided to stay at Quinnipiac, located in Hamden, Connecticut, is that he had been striving to persuade last year’s seniors to use the extra year of eligibility that was available to them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was trying to convince them to come back to win a national championship,” Dumais said. “So, I felt like, ‘How can I tell these guys to come back if I am not going to do the same thing?’ I told them that. I said, ‘Hey, I am going to pull my name out of this Union job, and I want to come back to win a championship. I want you guys to do it, too.'”

Five players decided to use their extra year, including defenseman Zach Metsa, who was receiving NHL offers after the 2021-22 season.

The group, though, might have had doubts about Dumais’ pitch.

“It’s pretty crazy, (Dumais) told us, all the fifth-years that were coming back, that this year is the year,” fifth-year forward Michael Lombardi said in a video captured by The QU Chronicle sports editor Cameron Levasseur in the locker room after Saturday night’s game. “I don’t know if I believed him at the start (of the season), but holy (crap).”



Rand Pecknold, who became Quinnipiac’s head coach 29 years ago when the team was still in Division III before making the move to Division I in 1998, said Dumais is one of the nation’s top assistant coaches.

“The probably the most important thing that happened for this national championship is Joe says no to Union head job and comes back,” Pecknold said during Saturday’s postgame press conference. “Joe is a rock star, he’s one of the best assistants in the game, as a coach, as a recruiter, and he’s a great person. The guys love him. He helps create our culture every day — the guys love being around him. I can’t give Joe enough credit.”

The game-winning goal, scored by forward Jacob Quillan 10 seconds into overtime, is a byproduct of Dumais’ coaching.

“We don’t have a million, but we have faceoff plays on all nine dots,” Pecknold said. “That one was Joe Dumais — that’s his play. We have different responsibilities on who’s calling some things, but I have to give Joe credit for that one.”

After a whistle two seconds into overtime, the ensuing faceoff went back to center ice. Quillan won the faceoff back to Metsa, who sent a pass from blue line to blue line to forward Sam Lipkin. Lipkin skated into the offensive zone and sent a backhand pass to Quillan, who was skating toward the net and slid the puck past Minnesota goalie Justen Close.

Dumais said the play is for times when an opponent plays man-to-man defense on faceoffs, and its defenders go after the Quinnipiac wingers and the center defends the center. The Bobcats interchange their center and left wing in an attempt to create confusion, and they keep their right wing on the red line to draw in the opponent’s defense to try to set up a quick 2-on-1.


Dumais said the Bobcats ran this particular faceoff play 150 times this season, and Saturday was the first time it resulted in a goal.

“We still got a lot of chances off of it this year, but we never scored on it,” Dumais said. “We have gotten 2-on-1s, and we have gotten offensive zone time, but we have never scored on it.

“I can’t believe in a national championship game, in overtime — that’s how we won the game, off a set neutral zone faceoff play. It’s unbelievable.”

Dumais’ impact on the Quinnipiac program stretches back long before he became an assistant coach in 2016-17. He played for the Bobcats from 2002-06, and during Saturday’s postgame press conference, Pecknold credited Dumais’ graduating class for laying the foundation for Quinnipiac’s success.

Dumais was on the coaching staff of Union’s 2014 Division I national championship team. He said that winning the national championship at Quinnipiac is so special because he got to celebrate with so many of the most important people in his life.

“After the game, it was just emotional. For me, it was a lot different this time, being an alum,” Dumais said. “All my best friends who I went to school with were at the game, and everybody I played here was at the game, my family was there. It was a different experience than it was in 2014 when I was at Union. Obviously, the alums were there, but I didn’t play with those guys, so I don’t know them as well. To see all the alums crying — it was unbelievable to see the passion in the (Quinnipiac) program.”

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