A-L Hall of Fame: DeBlois just wanted to play hockey

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Ray DeBlois won two hockey state championships with St. Dominic Academy before moving on to play at New Hampton School and then at Plattsburgh State.

Nowadays he sells lamps, but there was once a time when Ray DeBlois made it his mission to light them.

DeBlois fell in love with the game of hockey at a young age, probably when he was 4 or 5 years old, he estimates. That love never wavered throughout a career that took him from youth and travel hockey, to St. Dominic Academy and New Hampton School, and finally to college at Plattsburgh State.

Along the way were a pair of Class A state championships in high school, and an NCAA Division-III national title as well.

DeBlois will add another piece of hardware Sunday when he is inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame.

“I played the game because I loved it. And I was on good teams. It’s just an honor, just to cap it off,” said DeBlois, who lives in Lewiston and now works for his family’s businesses — DeBlois Electric, and Lighting Concepts.

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Getting the call about his induction made DeBlois go back in time to when hockey became a big part of his life.

“Growing up, I just wanted to be playing hockey as much — you know, if I wasn’t on the ice, I was shooting pucks, I was doing stuff to better the craft,” DeBlois said. “I don’t know, I just did it because I loved it. I shot many a pucks in my day.”

Between playing youth hockey, and then travel hockey for the then-Shaw’s team (now the Maine Gladiators), DeBlois said he would spend his free time playing on outdoor rinks at the Lewiston Armory, Bates College and the former Holy Family outdoor rink.

“Those are good memories. And in the whole process you meet some great people,” DeBlois said. “At the level I was at, the coaches I had, and players I played with, I’m still good friends with a lot of the players I played with back in squirts. Just good memories.”

DeBlois eventually made his way to St. Dom’s, where he was a four-year varsity player. The Saints won state titles in his sophomore (1986) and senior (1988) years.

“We probably should have won a couple more, but that’s me, I always want to win,” DeBlois said. “No, it was good. We had good teams, and it was a great experience.”

Playing games in front of packed crowds at the then-Central Maine Civic Center (now the Colisee) was “a lot of fun” and “made a lot of good memories.”

DeBlois spent a post-graduate year at New Hampton School in New Hampshire. Playing for the post-grad “A” team, DeBlois got to tour around the region and play colleges’ junior varsity teams. DeBlois guessed that he played 50 games that year, including New Hampton’s own prep schedule.

That was fine for DeBlois, who just wanted to play, no matter the venue, no matter the level.

His career took a step to the next level when he was approached by Plattsburgh State while playing for New Hampton in a tournament at Union College in New York.

The Cardinals got oh-so-close to a national title in DeBlois’s freshman season, losing a “mini game” to Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the final, and that only fueled the team moving forward.

“We came up shy our freshmen year, and at the beginning of my junior year pretty much the whole team was focused on that goal, and that goal alone,” DeBlois said. “There was nothing else was going to get in our way. We motored through the whole season.”

The Cardinals went 32-2-2 during the 1991-92 season, and finished on a 14-game unbeaten streak. They hosted the final four that year, and capped off the title run with a win over Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

“We played a lot of hockey that year, and we didn’t deviate from our goal of winning the championship. And it was nice because we won it at home,” DeBlois said. “It was insane. The game was at 7 o’clock, and there was no reserved seating. At like 4 o’clock the arena was full, waiting for the game.”

DeBlois said the fan support at Plattsburgh State was always good because there was no other team around.

The Cardinals returned to the final four the following year, but lost in the semifinals.

“We didn’t have the same focus,” DeBlois said. “We just thought it was going to be a cake walk and we lost to a team we should have beat.”

Winning seemed to follow DeBlois, and he said the common theme was being on teams where everyone knew their “seat is on the bus, and accepting it.”

DeBlois played defense, but also saw the game well offensively. And he always tried to be a team player.

After graduating and returning to Maine, DeBlois started a family. When his kids got old enough to play the game themselves he started to coach at the youth level, but eventually “stepped back” so he and his wife could get a chance to watch both their son and daughter play.

Lauren DeBlois followed in her father’s footsteps and is now playing at New Hampton School. Older brother Patrick plays for New England College at the Division-III level.

“We go see every game,” DeBlois said. “Now my biggest satisfaction is travelling and watching my kids play.”

The A-L Hall of Fame banquet is celebrating its 35th year this year, and will be held at Ramada Inn in Lewiston.

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