Playing against the University of Maine men’s hockey team has a certain significance for Brian Dumoulin.

Not only does he face the team he grew up rooting for, he also faces a team that includes several friends he’s made through his years of playing hockey.

“Playing Maine’s always fun,” said Dumoulin, a Boston College sophomore defenseman from Biddeford. “I have friends on the team and I know over half the team; and to be able to play in the state I grew up in, it’s fun, it’s exciting.”

The Eagles open a two-game series with Maine at 7 tonight at Conte Forum, and it will be the fifth time in 12 months Dumoulin has faced the Black Bears while at BC. This time, the Eagles face a Maine team that’s unbeaten in its last six games, has the third-best offense in the nation (4.1 goals a game) and boasts Hockey East’s top two scorers in forwards Spencer Abbott (eight goals, eight assists) and Gustav Nyquist (four goals, 11 assists).

“This Maine series will teach us a lot about ourselves because they’re on such a roll,” Dumoulin said. “It’s a four-point weekend and it will really show us what kind of team we are.”

The Black Bears are ranked No. 3 in two national polls, while Boston College is ranked ninth in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll and 10th in the USCHO.com poll. After going 4-1 to start the season, BC is 2-3 since Oct. 30. Seven months after winning the national title, the Eagles are trying to hash out their identity

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Eagles Coach Jerry York said. “You’re trying to self-scout your team and scout the league.

“Looking at our own team, and we’re a club that returns a lot of players from last year’s team, we have high aspirations for a successful year this year.

“The league is very good and it’s a difficult process you go through from October to April. We’ve been pushed by a couple different teams and we’re keeping our heads above the water.”

Dumoulin is one of four sophomore defensemen, joining Patrick Wey, Philip Samuelsson and Patch Alber, on a team that returns 17 players from last year’s championship team.

“Coming off last year, we knew it was going to be tough because every team is going to give you their best game,” Dumoulin said. “It’s like winning a national championship if those teams beat us.”

Dumoulin has two assists and a plus-5 rating in 10 games.

“He’s worked on his strength and that’s a big part of his development,” York said of Dumoulin. “Strength against strength is a key, and we know there’s more that Brian can give us.

“He works hard every day to improve and to become a better player.”

Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, Dumoulin is also among the nation’s best young defensemen. This summer, he participated in the U.S. under-20 national junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., a USA Hockey camp that helps determine the 22-player roster for the U.S. team that will play at the junior world championships in Buffalo, N.Y., from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. The roster will be announced Dec. 23, but Dumoulin’s priority is contributing to the Eagles.

“I have to play well here to get selected to the national team in December,” Dumoulin said. “This is my whole focus.

“I want to win another championship, another Beanpot title, too, and that’s my main focus. If I have the opportunity to make Team USA, that’d be awesome.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]