The hockey dream lives on for Greg Moore — Lisbon native, former St. Dom's, UMaine star

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Former St. Dom’s and University of Maine hockey player Greg Moore teaches kids at a USA Hockey summer camp. Moore is an assistant coach with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. (USA Hockey)

Greg Moore is still living the hockey life.

The sport has taken him from Lisbon, Maine, to Michigan, to Orono, Maine, to Germany, and several points in between — and beyond. It has given him a couple of sips of the NHL, gold medals, and the chance to play for a team called Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg.

Moore, who turned 34 last week, is back in Michigan — again — as an assistant coach for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s U17 team.

“I just love the sport,” he said. “I wanted to stay in it and be a part of it. I just love the game of hockey and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else outside of the sport when I was done playing.”

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The National Team Development Program has produced plenty of NHL stars: Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Suter to name a few.

It also produced Greg Moore.

State championships

Moore started skating when he was 3 years old and enrolled in hockey when he was 4.

He played several other sports during his youth: soccer and baseball at Lisbon Middle School, track and field for five summers through Lisbon Rec, and a couple of years of flag football.

But hockey was the one in which he stood out the most.

“I was probably more dominant in hockey than I was in all the other sports,” Moore said. “So, probably, the fact that it was just a fun sport to play and I was more successful in that sport among my peers than all the other sports probably motivated me to keep going in it.”

Most of the kids he played hockey with during his early teens were from the Lewiston-Auburn area and attended private Catholic schools. When his freshman year rolled around, he decided to go to St. Dominic Academy to play alongside them.

The Saints’ veteran players heard a lot of hype about the incoming freshman. It didn’t take Moore long to live up to it.

Their first impression of him: big.

“Right away, you saw him, and you’re like, ‘Wow, he was already built like a pro hockey player,’” Joe Dumais said. “And he got on the ice and he was just so good and he was so powerful and strong, his shot was fantastic, and you just watched him and were in awe of just everything he did. And then, on top of that, he was a really good kid.”

It didn’t take long for St. Dom’s coach Bob Boucher to put Moore on the first line with Dumais and Derek Damon, who have gone on to have tremendous hockey lives themselves. Dumais is the associate head coach at Quinnipiac University and Damon is still playing professionally in Denmark.

“The line was so successful because all three players were smart players and knew how to play the game,” Damon said. “Greg was an incredible skater, and his shot was second to none. I recall thinking that Greg was far and away above a lot of players that year as a freshman.”

The trio led the Saints to an undefeated season and the 1999 state championship in front of a sold-out crowd at the Central Maine Civic Center (now the Androscoggin Bank Colisee) that provided an atmosphere unlike any Moore had played in before.

The next season, Moore and Dumais helped St. Dom’s to the program’s 24th and most recent state championship.

“Those state championship games are something I’m really proud of,” Moore said.

“Obviously,” Dumais said. “That’s the impact he had: He had two years at St. Dom’s and he won two state championships. Obviously, he was a big piece of that.”

Moore’s time at St. Dom’s ended after his sophomore year.

“I was so focused on getting as far as I could in hockey, it was not a difficult decision,” Moore said. “It definitely sucked leaving your friends and that community that you felt at that school.”

Going national

Dumais said he and the rest of the Saints players knew Moore might be leaving St. Dom’s. They’d heard the rumors and seen the Team USA presence at their games.

“It was just a no-brainer for him to go play with these kids,” Dumais said.

Moore made a team of the best players in Maine, and then the best in New England. He also went to national tryout camps, called festivals, a few times. From there, he was invited to the National Team Development Program tryout and was among the 22 or 23 players from throughout the country to make the team.

So, rather than defend St. Dom’s state championship, Moore was moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for his junior and senior seasons.

Making the development team was both empowering and terrifying.

He had to move away from his family — all he had was a prepaid flip phone, and it was for emergencies only — to a new state and live with a billet family, the LaPointes, and go to a public school that was much larger than the private St. Dom’s. He was playing alongside the best 16-year-olds in the country, and the program was rigorous.

“It’s definitely a confidence-builder,” Moore said. “But it’s also a real big adjustment and growing-up process at an early age.”

He played alongside players who went on to lengthy NHL careers, including Suter, Patrick O’Sullivan, Patrick Eaves and Ryan Whitney.

In 2002, Moore won the first of his two gold medals with the Under-18 team.

That second season was also when he met Jimmy Howard, now the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goaltender. The two would become college roommates and remain close to this day.

“We’re pretty much like brothers,” Howard said recently.

The National Team Development Program fast-tracked Moore and helped him skip playing juniors and not only go straight to NCAA Division I hockey, but to be a contributing player as a true freshman.

“To be able to step in as a true freshman and have an impact on a Division I team like Maine at the time,” Moore said, “was because of coming to this program.”

Wearing the ‘C’

As soon as UMaine expressed interest, Moore made his choice.

Seeing the University of Maine hockey team win national championships in 1993 and 1999 left an impression on Moore. He had positioned himself to be sought after by many of the nation’s top programs. But none had a chance when the Black Bears came calling.

“It was always a dream of mine to play for the University of Maine, as a kid growing up in the area,” Moore said. “So when they had offered me the opportunity to play there, there was no thinking about it, really.”

One of his teammates all four of his years at UMaine was Damon, his former St. Dom’s line mate. After winning the state championship as a senior at St. Dom’s in 1999, Damon spent a year playing for the Exeter Snow Devils of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

“As soon as I saw Greg at Maine after a few years, I noticed how he took his game to another level,” Damon said. “He always could skate and he could always think the game, but when I saw him at Maine, his game rose even more.”

The Black Bears reached two Frozen Fours during Moore’s time in Orono. That includes the 2004 national championship game, a 1-0 loss to Denver that Moore said was probably the highlight of his college career but also is a sore subject.

The Black Bears, Moore said, took control of the game early, and Damon appeared to score on a power play to make it 1-0.

A review of the goal found that UMaine’s Mike Hamilton had a skate in the crease on the other side of the net, away from the play.

“So they review it, and the overhead showed that Mike Hamilton had one inch of his toe barely inside the blue paint,” Moore said, “and he didn’t touch anybody, he never touched the puck, he had nothing to do with the play, and they disallowed the goal, because that was the rule at the time.”

Denver later scored on Howard to take a 1-0 lead.

Late in the game, Denver committed a pair penalties. The Black Bears added to their advantage by removing their goalie.

“We pull the goalie. We have a 6-on-3 power play with a-minute-30 left in the game,” Moore said, “and we hit a post and a crossbar and we lose the national championship.”

That offseason, the NCAA changed the rule so that it was only a violation if the man in the crease had a direct effect on the goal.

The rule change came too late to save the Black Bears from heartbreak.

Howard left to sign with the Red Wings before their senior season at Maine, but Moore had his best season and the Black Bears made it back to the Frozen Four, where they lost to Wisconsin.

“At the end of our senior year at Maine, he carried us to the Frozen Four,” Damon said.

That senior season, Moore led UMaine in scoring (28 goals, 17 assists) and was an All-American and a Hobey Baker finalist. He also became the first Maine-born player to serve as captain for the Black Bears.

“My whole senior year was a very special year,” Moore said. “I got to wear the ‘C.’ It really meant a lot to me to be the first Maine-born player to be a captain at the University of Maine. That’s something … it really meant a lot to me.”

Moore continued playing with the national team while he was at UMaine, suiting up for the U20 squad at the World Junior Championships over the holiday breaks of his freshman and sophomore seasons. The second year, he helped the U.S. capture its first-ever gold at the tournament by beating Canada, 4-3, in Helsinki, Finland.

“I remember watching that game,” Dumais said. “It was against Canada, and it was one of the all-time great games. It was so much fun to watch, and such a great moment.”

The pro life

While he was at UMaine, Moore had his first taste of the business side of pro hockey.

He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round (143rd pick) of the 2003 NHL draft (the summer after his freshman year).

Nine months later, near the end of his sophomore season, the Flames traded Moore’s rights to the New York Rangers.

“At the time, I didn’t even know you could do that,” Moore said with a laugh. “I had a home game at Maine, and I woke up and my teammate, Colin Shields, said, ‘Mooresy, uh, you got to call Calgary back, and I think you got traded.’

“I was like, ‘What? You can get traded and I haven’t even signed anything yet?’

“He’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re name’s scrolling across the bottom of ESPN right now.’”

Soon after his senior season ended at UMaine, Moore joined the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL, playing two regular-season games, notching a goal and an assist, and then 13 postseason games (two goals, five assists).

Dumais was coaching at UConn during that same time — and his then-girlfriend, now-wife lived in the same condominium complex as Moore — so he was able to see his former St. Dom’s teammate play often.

“He had some great years with (Hartford),” Dumais said. “He was such a good player and he played a 200-foot game. He was great on the power play, he was great on the penalty kill. He was a great leader. He worked hard. He was just a complete role model in everything he did.”

Moore’s best season in Hartford was 2007-08, when he scored 26 goals and assisted on 40 others and played in the AHL All-Star game.

That season he received his first taste of the NHL, getting called up to the Rangers for six games. When he looked around the locker room, he saw Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Drury and Henrik Lundqvist.

“It was really cool, the roster at the time for the Rangers for those games was almost like a Hall of Fame roster,” Moore said. “So it was a very intimidating situation as a young player getting called up and you have all these old, hall-of-fame vets in the locker room.

“So, just to say that you got to play some games with those guys and be a part of that, it was pretty cool.”

He played in Hartford through the 2008-09 season. Then, after three years in the Rangers organization, he signed with the New York Islanders, and spent most of the 2009-10 season with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

He asked for trade near the deadline to find an organization that might be more inclined to call him up to the NHL.

The Islanders dealt Moore to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he played 16 games in the AHL for the Syracuse Crunch before being called up to play for the Blue Jackets for four more NHL games at the end of the 2009-10 season.

The final two games of that year were against Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings.

“I didn’t get a lot of ice time — I was on the fourth line and a call-up player, but it was still a cool experience to be out there and play against him,” Moore said.

Those two games were Moore’s ninth and 10th — and last — in the NHL.

“I wanted a lot more,” Moore said. “But it’s still something I can say I did and accomplished in my career, so it was still a very cool experience.”

As an unrestricted free agent in 2010, Moore signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and was sent to the AHL to play for the Adirondack Phantoms in upstate New York.

AHL teams were allowed five players with veteran status, based on their number of games played. The Phantoms ended up with six vets, and since Moore was struggling, he was the odd man out and relegated to being a healthy scratch.

His agent wanted Moore to be moved to a team not overcrowded with vets, and he was traded back to the Blue Jackets, whose AHL affiliate had become the Springfield Falcons.

Moore’s veteran status made NHL call-ups less likely if he stayed in the AHL, so the next season he left the United States to play in Germany’s top league.

“Sometimes, for quality-of-life and money purposes, really, you can go overseas to Europe, play good hockey,” Moore said.

He played first for the Augsburger Panther, then two seasons with Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg. He tore his ACL in the second game of his second season with Grizzly Adams, and missed the rest of the season.

He played 16 games with Piráti Chomutov of the Czech2 league, then went back to Germany, rejoining Augsberger for 28 games.

“It was fun,” Moore said of playing in Germany. “Got to travel, see a lot of different places, the league’s really fun to play in, the fans are great, more like soccer stadium atmosphere with the way they cheer and chant and sing throughout the whole game.”

Behind the bench

The 2014-15 season was Moore’s last as a player. He returned to Michigan to begin the next phase of his hockey life: coaching.

“I knew I wanted to do that back when I was in college,” Moore said. “I had studied kinesiology, coaching, teaching, specifically knowing I was going to take that route.”

He started as an intern assistant for two years with the National Team Development Program, before being promoted to assistant for the U17 team in 2017-18.

“I love it,” Moore said. “Having played through the program … being an alum and having a lot of pride for what this place does, and, obviously, representing your country every chance you get is a huge honor.”

Quinnipiac commitment Domenick Fensore is on the U17 team, so Dumais occasionally visits Michigan and gets a taste of Moore, the coach.

“I know the kids love him as a person and as a coach,” Dumais said. “And I think he’s kind of a player’s coach where he can relate to them and they can relate to him, and it’s such a good two-way street.”

U17 head coach John Wroblewksi said Moore usually leaves the ice when the last of the players do. He sticks around to help them squeeze out any last bit of improvement they can.

Moore also is the embodiment of the success that the development players can achieve.

“He’s won every single event that somebody at the NTDP can accomplish: U17, U18, U20, all gold medals,” Wroblewski said.

Returning to Michigan (the NTDP has relocated to Plymouth) has not only reconnected Moore with his past, but also some of the people from it. For instance, Mary-Jo and Jim LaPointe — his billet parents of so many years ago — are still involved, and they even watch his dog when he goes out of town.

He’s also closer to Detroit and Howard, and goes to as many Red Wings games as his schedule allows. When he does, he’s still in coach mode.

“He’s always working,” Howard said. “Even when he comes down to watch one of the games with my wife … he’s watching how coaches coach their teams and what systems coaches play.

“He’s not afraid to learn, and that’s one way to keep yourself going in this hockey world is that willingness to learn every single day.”

Moore said he’s keeping an open mind about which direction he wants his coaching career to go. He’s focused on his current gig and will consider other opportunities as they present themselves.

Dumais, who almost 20 years ago saw a future NHL player in Moore, thinks he might be able to reach that height as a coach, too, if that’s what he wants.

“He’s got a great mind for the game,” Wroblewksi said. “It’s very, very, very innovative. I don’t think there’s limits to his ideas and his understanding of the game.

“It’s an honor to work with him on a day-to-day basis, I’ll tell you that.”

Lisbon native Greg Moore (10) celebrates with USA Hockey National Team Development Program teammates Patrick O’Sullivan, Ryan Suter and Patrick Eaves. (USA Hockey) 

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) stops a shot by Columbus Blue Jackets center Greg Moore (39) during the second period of an NHL game in Detroit on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Moore and Howard were roomates at the University of Maine and remain friends to this day. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Maine captain Greg Moore (15) chips the puck into Boston University goalie John Curry, (36), in the third period in Orono on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005. (AP Photo/Michael C. York)

Wisconsin’s Tom Gilbert, right, checks Maine’s Greg Moore, left, in the first period in a semifinal game of the NCAA Frozen Four on Thursday, April 6, 2006, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Lisbon native Greg Moore is an assistant coach with the U.S. National Under-17 Team. (USA Hockey)

Lisbon native Greg Moore was a Team USA coach for the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Men’s World Championships in Slovakia. (USA Hockey) 

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