ORONO — It was the barn that lured Devin Shore to the University of Maine. The students chanting, the rafters quaking, the Black Bears grinding.

Alfond Arena left an indelible impression on the teenager from Ontario on that first visit. Sitting alongside his father, Kyle, Shore was suddenly unable to imagine himself playing anywhere else.

By the time Shore was ready to skate in his first game at Maine in the fall of 2012, the building left him numb.

“I thought I was going to be OK in the warmup, but hearing the crowd was terrifying and then when we got out for the first period, I don’t know what was going on but I couldn’t feel my legs for that whole period,” Shore said. “That’s what I remember most. I’ve never had that happen since. I’d never really played in front of a huge crowd, so it might have been the crowd that gave me the butterflies.”

Three years later, Shore might be bidding farewell to the Alfond this weekend. Maine hosts Northeastern on Friday and Saturday, fighting to climb into eighth place in Hockey East, which would secure a home playoff series in two weeks.

Shore is the team’s junior captain but there’s no certainty he’ll return for a senior season. A second-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2012, Shore has shown he’s ready to begin his pro career – although he said he’s been too busy with schoolwork and hockey to think that far ahead.

“I want Devin Shore to come back for his senior year. Absolutely I do,” said Coach Red Gendron. “But at the same time I want Devin Shore to get what he wants out of life, and if it’s the right time for him to leave, then God bless you Devin, I’ll do everything I can to help you.”

“I see an NHL future,” said Mark Leach, a New Hampshire-based scout for the Stars who has watched Shore play for four years. “We’ve seen his game develop pretty well. I think he’s got a good shot. We’re letting him play out his year and we’ll talk after it’s over.”

‘ALWAYS MORE MATURE’

Shore, 20, grew up in Ajax, Ontario, 40 minutes east of Toronto. He was skating at age 2 and playing in an organized league by 4. His coaches put him at forward, and he can vividly recall his first goal.

“I was lined up on the right wing on the left offensive dot and the faceoff came right to my stick, and I smacked at it and it went in,” Shore said.

His celebration was to simply shoot his hands toward the sky. His path was set.

“I’ve always enjoyed scoring goals,” he said.

As a child, Shore stood out for his leadership, said Dan Renouf, who has been his teammate since age 7 and remains so as a Black Bear defenseman.

“He was always more mature. He got it figured out even when he was wicked young,” said Renouf. “All the guys looked up to him for that.”

Renouf and Shore love to reminisce about the games of their youth. Renouf’s favorite story involves a semifinal in the all-Ontario championships for mites. They were 10 years old and facing an undefeated team, trailing by a goal and with two players in the penalty box. Undaunted, Shore picked up the puck in his own end and went the length of the ice to tie the score. His team won that game and eventually the title.

“That goal was kind of the cornerstone of our victory and it clearly was just an individual effort by him. It just amazed me,” Renouf said. “I’ve never seen a player like him. He gets the game more than any of us do.”

Once Shore decided to play in the NCAA, he visited six schools in the Northeast, including three of Maine’s Hockey East rivals – Massachusetts, Northeastern and (shudder) New Hampshire. The game he saw at the Alfond convinced him to choose Maine.

The pinnacle of his hockey career came before he even got to campus. At age 17, Shore was getting buzz as a potential NHL draft choice. His adviser talked him into attending the 2012 draft in Pittsburgh, with family in tow. Shore wasn’t sure, imagining how humiliating it would be to drive all that way and not hear his name called.

He needn’t have worried. The Stars grabbed him with the 61st overall pick, surpassing even Shore’s expectations. Shore remembers hugging his brother, Darin, his mother, Andrea, and his father, then walking from the stands to the Stars’ table, where he was greeted by then-general manager and former NHL great Joe Nieuwendyk and handed a Dallas sweater.

“They didn’t say exactly why they drafted me,” Shore said. “They liked my hockey sense and my puck-protection skills, I was grateful for them to say I was of good character and had a good attitude toward the game.”

THE PLACE FOR MEMORIES

Shore has grown an inch to 6-foot-1 at Maine. More important, said Leach, the Stars’ scout, is he added 30 pounds of muscle, up to 205 now.

Leach has been impressed by Shore’s increasing ability to win puck battles “in the hard areas,” an important skill for someone who projects to be a third- or fourth-line center in the pro game. Leach compared Shore to Riley Sheahan of the Detroit Red Wings, a solid two-way player who has put up 50 points in his first 100 NHL games.

“He has good size, plays a responsible game at the defensive end and chips in offensively,” Leach said of Shore. “He needs to show his coaches that they can trust putting him on the ice at any time without worrying.”

Shore scored 26 points as a freshman to lead the Black Bears. He had 43 last year and was named a second-team All-American. This season he has 29 to give him 98 overall.

But when you ask Shore about his most memorable moments at Maine, he doesn’t mention any of his 31 goals. Instead, he points to the 7-3 victory over Boston University last winter at Fenway Park, a game delayed by heavy rain and a freakish bolt of lightning. Or to victories over New Hampshire at Alfond Arena the past two seasons.

“The best memories are the ones you can share with your teammates,” Shore said. “Just heading to the room after a big win or going down to the goalie, that’s the most exciting stuff.”

It’s that attitude, with his obvious skill, that prompted teammates to vote him an assistant captain last year and to put the “C” on his jersey this season.

Shore, a top-notch student majoring in finance, remains a natural leader and is not shy about delivering impassioned speeches in the locker room. He also is frequently called upon to face the media after tough losses, which have been all too frequent in his three years. Maine has a 39-51-15 record during Shore’s tenure, which included the painful dismissal of the coach who recruited him – Tim Whitehead – after his freshman season. Shore said it was that moment that impressed upon him that his sport is actually a business. But he never thought about leaving Maine, and welcomed Gendron and a new coaching staff.

“It’s a hell of a lot easier when you’re winning more,” Gendron said of serving as a team captain. “He’s going to learn some lessons and probably some lessons that he hasn’t yet figured out. I don’t think there’s any question that this has weighed on him in a big way. You can’t be a serious athlete or coach at a high level and be in that leadership position, and not take this stuff personally. I don’t think he would ever let it show.”

Indeed, Shore still feels an adrenaline rush whenever he skates onto the Alfond ice. He said the experience has been all that he imagined when he sat in the bleachers with his dad years ago and listened to the students torment the opposing players.

“There’s no better place to play hockey, maybe at any level, just the genuine atmosphere and the school pride and the old barn and all that stuff coming together,” he said. “Obviously, as you get to higher levels, the crowds get bigger and the level of play gets higher. But just the genuine spectacle of the Alfond is unlike anything I’ve ever seen or maybe will ever see.

“I can’t say enough about the Alfond. I love it.”

This weekend, perhaps for Shore’s final time as a Black Bear, the feeling will be mutual.