, special-ordered tiny skates, and the pair headed to Alfond for a public skate.
"They were this big," said Doug Damon
, holding his
thumb and index finger just inches apart."Single blade.No double runners.He'd put his
hands in the back of my jeans and we'd go around and around."
Twenty-one years later, Doug Damon
wears a leather Maine hockey bomber jacket and speaks in the comfortable way of a storyteller.His
eyes twinkle, and he
smiles at the funny parts of the story.
kind of grew up in here.He
was literally a week old and we sat right over there," said Doug Damon
, before pointing to Alfond's "T" section.
talks, dozens of passersby wave to him or stop to chat.
For the next several years, Doug Damon
son's travel teams.
...Doug Damon, a retired Air Force pilot, began flying for the University of Maine on recruiting trips.
"Shawn Walsh used to tell him you're going to play at Maine one day," Doug Damon
The young Damon
took it to heart.He
was the leading scorer for almost all of his
teams, including his
two years at John Bapst
, with his
father as the school's coach.
left for St. Dom's - the Catholic school with a reputation for churning out superior high school hockey teams.
After leading St. Dom's
to the Class A state championship as a senior, Damon
decided to play junior hockey in New Hampshire for the Exeter Snow Devils, with hopes of developing into a Division I prospect.He
had talent, but it still wasn't as obvious as that of current linemate Greg Moore, who was three years behind Damon
at St. Dom's
"Each step I took, someone was saying I couldn't play at that level," Damon
said."I kind of like having people doubt me." Damon
craft with the Snow Devils and worked on his
seriously thought about playing Division III hockey.But with Walsh's faith that he
had the makings of a Division I player, he
returned in 2001 to Alfond - the rink he'd known his
whole life - as one of Walsh's recruited walk-on players.
"A lot of people doubted me.This kid from Bangor.How good could he
He'd say, 'Deker (Damon's nickname), you've got to work hard so you can come here,' " said Damon
."It was my dream to play for Coach Walsh.I felt so upset.There were so many players he'd influenced who didn't get a chance to play for him."
Along with the rest of his team and his new coach, Tim Whitehead, Damon
Like almost every incoming college forward, Damon
also had to learn to play the defensive side of the game.Damon
first year at Maine and intensely worked on his
The next year, Damon
started out as the fourth-line center.By Christmas, he
had moved into a more prominent role, and he
finished with nine goals and nine assists.Last season, he
totals to 13 goals and 18 assists.
Now in his
junior season, Damon
has become one of the team's elite players.His
stick-handling ranks among the team's top two or three, and his
scoring sense is perhaps the most natural of anyone on the team.
At the halfway mark of the season, Damon
leads Maine in scoring with 10 goals and seven assists.He
plays the point on the Black Bears'
top power-play unit and is a vocal presence in the locker room and on the ice.