FALMOUTH – The 27-second video on YouTube is a bit blurry and grainy but unmistakable. Marcus Gustafsson shoots the puck, gets his own rebound and shoots again. Goalie Ty Conklin lunges to his left, but it’s hopeless. The puck is in the net.

The University of Maine wins college hockey’s national championship. The year is 1999 and the place is Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, then home of the NHL’s Mighty Ducks. The opponent was New Hampshire.

Gustafsson spins to his left, his strides taking him to the sideboards. He has time to leap into the air before he’s swarmed by teammates. Conklin, New Hampshire’s star goalie remains prone on the ice for a couple of seconds. He raises his head amid the euphoria around him. You can only imagine what he’s seeing or feeling.

You might click the replay button on your monitor. Gustafsson doesn’t, even in his mind.

“It was just the whole process. How we got there, how we trained, how we played. The attention to details, which (Coach) Shawn Walsh never let us forget. What I remember is all four years and the lessons that were taught. It was the school of life.”

Gustafsson has come north from his home in Atlanta this week. He’s an instructor at the Black Bear Hockey Camp at Family Ice Center and will play in Sunday afternoon’s alumni game at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco. He’s 37 years old, president of his own investment management company. A husband and father of two children.

He’s also the Maine hockey player with a signature moment. His goal in sudden-death overtime broke a 2-2 tie and gave Maine its second of two national hockey titles.

“I scored Maine’s first goal that season and the last. How many players can say they ever did that?” he said.

It wasn’t a boast because Gustafsson is not that type. Make it the answer to a trivia question.

He left his home in a suburb of Uppsala, Sweden, to play for Maine hockey in its darkest hours, when the program lost scholarships because of NCAA infractions. Maine went looking for young European players whose families didn’t need athletic scholarship money. Gustafsson, whose father held a position of responsibility in Sweden’s version the Secret Service, was one who answered the call. So did fellow Swedes Robert Ek and brothers Anders and Magnus Lundback.

Funny, but when Gustav Nyquist, Theo Andersson and Klas Leidermark arrived in Orono more than 10 years later, they had little or no knowledge of the countrymen who came before them, including Joakim Wahlstrom, who played for Maine 22 years ago.

From his home in Atlanta, Gustafsson followed Nyquist’s all-star career, although the bond wasn’t so much their shared nationality. They were Maine Black Bears.

“One of the things that drew me to Maine was that it wasn’t Boston or another big city,” Gustafsson said. “There, you turn to your teammate and ask, ‘What are you doing tonight.’ At Maine, it was always, ‘what are we doing tonight?’“

He laces up his skates on some Tuesdays and Thursdays in Atlanta, playing in games that match Canadian players against the rest of the world. He doesn’t so much miss the on-ice stuff or the memory of an aching shoulder. He does miss what most athletes miss: the horseplay and closeness of the locker room and shared experiences.

“Hockey is not a closed chapter to me. At our 10-year reunion (of the 1999 team), it was just like we never left. We stayed at a small hotel on Cape Cod and sat in plastic chairs and told old stories.

“We could go to the middle of nowhere to meet and it wouldn’t make a difference.”

Teammates are for life.

Later Thursday, Gustafsson planned to drive to the Belgrade Lakes region where Alfie Michaud, the goalie of the 1999 championship team, has a home. Conklin, the opposing goalie, also has a lakeside home in the Augusta area. Gustafsson didn’t know that.

When Maine hockey fans long for a return to the glory years, they talk about the Kariya brothers and Jim Montgomery. Cory Larose and Brendan Walsh and Niko Dimitrakos. Chris Imes and Peter Metcalf and so many others.

Gustafsson was in Orono for four seasons, interrupted by one year fulfilling his military commitment in Sweden’s air force. He played in 41 games that championship season, scoring a relatively modest 13 goals.

But he got the goal that mattered most.

“At a very high level, everybody’s good,” said Gustafsson, remembering the championship game. “Who’s going to be the better team that day is the difference.”

He doesn’t need to replay the moment; he doesn’t need the label of hero. Maine won.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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