There will be a distinct Maine flavor when the University of Maine hosts the Boston College Eagles, ranked third in one national poll and fourth in another, for a pair of important Hockey East games on Friday and Saturday.
Each team has two Maine natives as BC has All-American junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin from Biddeford and freshman goaltender Brian Billett from Brunswick while Maine has sophomore right wing Mark Anthoine from Lewiston and Scarborough freshman defenseman Jake Rutt.
“I’ve played with all of them growing up,” said Rutt, who was Billett’s teammate and roommate with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the Eastern Junior Hockey League last season. “It’s a little bit in the back of my mind but what’s mostly on my mind is it’s four big Hockey East points.
“It should be fun,” added Rutt.
“Just being from Maine, we all know each other. The hockey world is so small and if you play with someone randomly here, you end up befriending them,” said Anthoine.
The players have trained and skated together from time to time during the summer and Anthoine said they also worked out together over Christmas break.
Dumoulin, like Rutt and Billett, played for the Junior Monarchs before going to BC. Anthoine played two seasons with the Portland Junior Pirates before moving to the United States Junior Hockey League.
Rutt hopes his former roommate gets a start in goal this weekend.
“Obviously, through practicing with him for a couple of years and shooting on him, I know where his weak points are,” grinned Rutt.
“It should be a great experience for the players,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who noted that it is the most Maine natives involved in a Black Bear game since the 2005-2006 season when Maine’s roster included Bangor’s Derek Damon, Lisbon’s Greg Moore and Windham’s Matt Duffy.
Rutt recalled playing high school hockey against Dumoulin and said Dumoulin has “deserved all of the awards he has received.”
“He’s a very good player,” said Rutt.
The Eagles, 6-7-1 since beating Maine 5-1 on Nov. 4, have no shortage of talent and speed but the Bears feel they are a different team now.
“We were going through a lot of ups and downs back then and trying to figure out our team identity,” said Anthoine. “We had a night like that last Friday [ 6-2 loss at Merrimack] but we came back hard Saturday [ 2-2 tie] and we know that’s how we want to play.”
Rutt added, “BC is a big counterattack team so we really have to limit our turnovers around the blue line and make sure we get pucks deep [into the offensive zone]. We also have to play sound defensively and if we do, we can turn our defense into offense.”
Eagles coach Jerry York said senior Chris Venti will start in goal Friday but Billett could play on Saturday.
“[Billett] is going to be a good goalie for us and [Dumoulin] keeps getting better and better,” said York.