Associate head coach Joe Dumais steps into spotlight as Pecknold leads Team USA


George Maddaloni

Quinnipiac associate head coach Joe Dumais will serve as the Bobcats’ head coach for the next 1-3 games depending on how the Rand Pecknold-led Team USA fares at the World Junior Championships.

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

For the first time in 29 years, there is a new man at the helm for Quinnipiac men’s hockey – at least, for a few weeks. 

When the Bobcats take on Holy Cross on Dec. 30, it will be associate head coach Joe Dumais running the show as head coach Rand Pecknold goes for gold with Team USA in the IIHF World Junior Championships. 

Dumais is in his seventh year as a member of Quinnipiac’s staff and 15th at the Division I level. His wealth of experience leaves Pecknold with no concerns handing over the reins. 

“Joe’s one of the best associates in the country,” Pecknold said. “He’s going to be great. He might do a better job than me.”

That job, in Dumais’ eyes, involves no systematic changes from the opening half of the season, which saw the Bobcats go 14-1-3 and climb up to No. 2/3 in the national polls. 

“The culture just kind of carries itself, the guys run the show here,” Dumais said. “There’s nothing that’s going to be changed. There’s nothing that’s going to be really different. For me it’s just trying to keep the ship going in the right direction.”

If anyone knows the culture, it’s Dumais, who spent four years under Pecknold as a player for Quinnipiac from 2002-06. But, he says a lot has changed since then. 

“We had some really good players, but the depth wasn’t the same,” Dumias said. “We didn’t have the rink, we didn’t have the resources, we didn’t have any of that stuff. So I like to say that my group was a part of building where we’re at today.”

Nearly two decades later, the Bobcats have both the depth and the resources, taking pride in their ability to run a four-line system, something Dumais deserves credit for. He is instrumental in the team’s recruiting process and has played a large role in building the roster into what it is today. 

“I would say (recruiting) is my No. 1 job. As an assistant coach, that’s got to be everyone’s No. 1 job,” Dumais said. “Every day you have to come into the office and you have to call recruits. You have to call coaches. You have to call their advisors. You have to watch video. You have to go out on the road and recruit, and if you don’t do that, you’re not going to be a good hockey team.”

It’s perhaps the most demanding part of his job, given that recruiting has no set schedule. 

“There’s no holidays in recruiting. There’s no weekends in recruiting,” Dumais said. “If you don’t pick up the call, if you don’t go recruit, somebody else is doing it.”

On top of recruiting, Dumais is also heavily involved with the team’s game prep and video work, something the players recognize and appreciate. 

“He’s awesome. He does a lot of stuff like film and video review,” sophomore forward Collin Graf said. “The pre-scout … I think it’s a lot of Dumais’ work. He does awesome and I think we’re prepared for every team we play.”

But at the end of the day, the heavy workload pays off. Since joining the staff in Hamden, Dumais has helped the Bobcats to three Cleary Cups and three NCAA Tournament appearances. And that’s no fluke. If there’s a consistent theme throughout his life, it’s winning. 

“I think life is competitive and the quicker you realize that life’s a competition, the more you’re going to be ready for life,” Dumais said. “I just like winning. I like to be at my best at everything, no matter what it is.”

As a player, the Auburn, Maine, native won two Class A state titles at St. Dominic’s Academy in his home state and the second-ever Atlantic Hockey regular season title with the Bobcats, along with earning two conference championship berths. 

Prior to coaching at Quinnipiac, Dumais helped lead Union to two Cleary Cups, three consecutive Whitelaw Cups as ECAC Hockey Tournament Champions and a national championship in the 2013-14 season. 

The experience of reaching the pinnacle of college hockey is something he hopes to replicate with Quinnipiac – a feat the Bobcats have fallen just short of twice in the past decade.

“We’ve been close for years,” Dumais said. “We have a good team every year, it’s just hard to do it, and hopefully we’re getting closer to that national championship here. That was my goal of coming back, to win one here at my alma mater.”

Before his stint at Union, Dumais held an assistant coach position at UConn, though that was not originally the plan. He had taken a job as an assistant with Utica at the Division III level, but as he was on his way to sign the paperwork, Pioneers’ head coach Gary Heenan called him and told him to turn around. 

“He said, ‘hey, Bruce Marshall at UConn called me, and he wants to hire you,’” Dumais said. “He goes ‘turn around, drive right to UConn, and take that job. It’s a Division I job, way more money, way better job…’ I couldn’t believe it.”

While his time with the Huskies and Dutchmen both shaped Dumais as a coach, there was no question about where he wanted to end up. 

“I always knew I wanted to be back here, Rand and I have always talked about it,” Dumais said. “But I also knew I wanted to go do my own thing and learn from different people, which I did in Ohio, I did at UConn, I did at Union … it (had been) 10 years and it was just honestly perfect timing and it was the right time for me to come back.” 

Now with a number of seasons behind the Bobcats’ bench under his belt and amid a momentary opportunity to head the program, Dumais is keeping the approach simple as Quinnipiac ramps up the chase for that elusive national title. 

“(We have to) know what we are, know what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, and if we do that, we’re going to have success this year,” Dumais said.