Moore joining Rangers

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ORONO (AP) – University of Maine hockey stars Greg Moore of Lisbon and Derek Damon of Bangor are turning pro less than a week after leading the Black Bears to the semifinals of the national college hockey tournament.

Moore, 22, signed a two-year contract with the New York Rangers and will join the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Moore originally was a fifth-round draft choice by Calgary, but his rights were traded to the Rangers two years ago.

Damon, 25, signed a tryout contract with the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL for the team’s final four regular-season games.

Hartford has three regular-seasons games remaining before moving on to the playoffs, while Lowell missed the playoffs.

Moore was the captain of the Black Bears and the team’s leading scorer with 28 goals and 17 assists in 42 games.

“Since I was little kid, I dreamed about this,” said Moore, who was an All-American and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the nation’s top college hockey player. “I’m excited and glad to get this transition period going. I’m going to get some experience before going to training camp (with the Rangers) next fall.”

Moore’s first day at his new job didn’t exactly go as planned, but at least he made the bus.

“He called me at twenty-to-three,” said Moore’s mother, Jan. “He said the driver had just picked him up at the airport and that he had to change into his suit in the car on the way to the rink.

“He text-messaged me right after three that he’d just made it. It wasn’t exactly the easiest transition.”

In 154 career games with Maine, Moore had 66 goals and 41 assists for 107 points. Moore also helped lead the United States to a gold medal at the 2004 World Junior Championships.

Through all of those experiences, Moore’s parents rarely missed a game. This included a trip to Finland in 2004 for the World Juniors. Now, that will change.

“We’ll play it by ear,” said Jan, “but that’s pretty much done now. He’ll probably be relieved by it, too. He doesn’t come watch me work when he’s home, so I guess it’s only fair.”

Damon had 15 goals and 20 assists in 41 games. He is a free agent and hopes to attract interest from an NHL team.

“It’s exciting because if I go down there and play well, hopefully it will open up a lot of doors,” he said.

Former Rangers scout Bob Crocker, who is now with Los Angeles, said Moore someday will play in the National Hockey League.

“His potential is big. I can see him as a third-line guy who will be able to contribute and score goals,” he said.

Crocker said Damon has great skills with the puck and is a strong skater, but has to become grittier and play better defensively if he hopes to make it to the NHL.

Both players plan to graduate from the University of Maine in May.

Sun Journal staff writer Justin Pelletier contributed to this report.

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