Every aspiring athlete remembers a time when they were completely captured by a specific game. For many of a certain age, it was listening to the World Series on a transistor radio. Or perhaps a first visit to Fenway Park. A day or perhaps a moment when your passion for the game was ignited.

For me, one of those moments occured 25 years ago, on a night

when the Maine Black Bear Hockey team went 42-1-2 and won the NCAA National title. I was 12 years old, and already a huge sports fan. But I also had begun to realize the harsh reality that Maine was a small state. We had one Division I school, and did not compete on a national level in any major NCAA sport.

Except hockey.

Growing up I read the Bangor Daily News Sports page every morning (still do!), and through the winter of 1992, I was thrilled with the growing momentum of Maine Hockey. Montgomery, Kariya, Snow, Ingraham and Dunham were household names as Maine charged through the regular season. Finally, the big night arrived, on April 3, the title game vs Lake Superior State.

I watched on TV that night, first elated that the Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead, then devastated as they fell behind 4-2. By the third period, the hour was late, and I had overstayed my bedtime.

Grudgingly I turned out the lights in my bedroom, and turned on the radio. What transpired over the next 20 minutes would stay with me forever, and seal my passion for sports. With Kariya assisting, Jim Montgomery scored a goal. Then another! “Is this even possible?” I thought, laying in bed but so far from sleep.

Then for the third time, Montgomery found the net (another

Kariya assist) and the impossible had happened. NCAA champions! Maine had done it. I slept that that night in blissful joy along with the rest of our state. Suddenly, no dream was too big, no obstacle too tall, no ballgame ever over until the very end.

I carried the memory of that day, and the lessons that it gave throughout my athletic career in basketball, baseball and soccer and now as a coach at the high school level. As an artist I created a sculpture of Paul Kariya, to commemorate that wonderful season, and the way it impacted my life. I have pride in my state, remembering not just that special first NCAA title, but the dramatic way the final game ignited my passion as an artist, an athlete and a coach.

This sculpture is for sale. Visit www.jmoroart.com, or call Jon at 207-691-7564

Jon Moro is an artist, an educational technician and a coach at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport. He shows his artwork in Camden and has a piece in the NCAA’s private collection. Moro played on the Windjammers’ 1999 Class B basketball state championship game and played basketball and baseball at Colby College in Waterville.

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