CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Brian Billett of Brunswick made the decision years ago, as soon as he visited the Boston College campus.
Just last year, Brian Dumoulin of Biddeford had to make his own choice: another year in the classroom and on the rink at BC, or take the money and opportunity from pro hockey.
Both Billett and Dumoulin will be in Orono this weekend when Boston College faces the University of Maine for two Hockey East games, at 7 tonight and 4 p.m. Saturday.
Billett, 19, may be in goal for the Eagles. He is only a freshman but is already making a grab at the No. 1 goalie job.
Dumoulin, 20, is a junior and an All-America defenseman. A second-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, Dumoulin was urged by his future employer to leave BC after last season.
“Carolina wanted me to go and play pro right at the end of (last) season,” Dumoulin said. “It was very difficult because if an NHL team is telling you that they want you and is willing to give you money
“I had to take a second and think about what I had at BC. I just worked as hard as I could on the ice and in the classroom for two years. If I were to leave my overall goal in coming to BC was to get a diploma from here.”
BC has that kind of pull. Junior forward Chris Kreider is a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, and the Rangers wanted Kreider to go pro last year.
Billett can understand his older teammates wanting to stay. Billett wanted to play for BC since he visited years ago as a player for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs. He also took visits to Maine and Northeastern, but decided on BC.
“The impression they give off, not only academically, but also their athletics is superb,” said Billett. “The motto here — “ever to excel” — they really take it to heart.”
Billett spoke on Tuesday, the first day of the second semester, after his first two classes of the day — First-Year Writing Seminar and Introduction to Christian Theology. Billett’s smile was constant.
“This is everything I thought it would be,” said Billett, a graduate of Kennebunk High, who also attended Brunswick High and North Yarmouth Academy.
Billett is one of four goalies on the Eagles’ roster. He beat Yale 3-2 in his first start on Nov. 26, and has seen the bulk of the action since then.
In seven games, Billett is 3-3-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average and leads the team with a .918 save percentage.
In Billett’s last start, a 4-0 loss to UMass on Jan. 13, he was pulled after allowing three goals in 1½ periods. But Coach Jerry York was not discouraged.
“He’s a legitimate contender for our No. 1 spot in goal,” York said. “His save percentage and goals-against average are excellent. His win-loss record would be certainly better if we had more goals scored.
“He has been a bright spot and, in the long run, we feel he’s going to be a real go-to type goaltender.”
York already knows what he has in Dumoulin, but also said his defenseman is improving.
“He never gives me that ‘I’m an All-American coach, I don’t have to get any better.’ He’s always striving to get better,” York said. “That’s what makes him so special.”
York said Dumoulin, 6-3, 225 pounds, is stronger and becoming a shut-down defender as well as an offensive force. He is tied for fourth on the team with 17 points (three goals, 14 assists).
The decision to go pro is always in the back of Dumoulin’s mind. He is loading up his class schedule with required courses for his major — marketing. That way, if he does go pro after this season, he can always pick up elective classes and still get his degree.
But no decision has been made.
“People always ask me what I’m going to do. I just say I still have half a season to play — the Beanpot, Hockey East and, potentially, another run at the national championship — before I have to make that decision,” said Dumoulin.
And two games this weekend at Alfond Arena.
“It’s my favorite place to play,” Dumoulin said. “The atmosphere, the building. It feels like they’re on top of you. It’s always fun to go up there and see friends after the games.”
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: