It was 30 minutes after Maine’s hockey season ended with a 3-2 overtime loss at Vermont, and Coach Red Gendron was having a quiet conversation with star center Devin Shore.

Shore was still wearing his blue No. 94 sweater, with the large captain’s “C” stitched onto the front, and Gendron had an arm around his waist. It looked like a father wishing a son good luck, and in a way it was.

Shore peeled that Black Bears jersey off for the final time shortly after that conversation Sunday night. By Monday, the junior was cutting his college career short to sign a three-year contract with the Dallas Stars. On Tuesday, Shore was en route to Austin, Texas, where he will join the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

“We’ve been really close these last two years. He knew it was a possibility that I was leaving,” Shore said of his chat with Gendron.

“It’s been a whirlwind but it’s really exciting,” he added between flights Tuesday. “Ever since I was a kid playing on the rink in my backyard, this has been my dream, to play in the NHL. The AHL is just one step away.”

Shore’s departure was expected. A second-round draft pick of the Stars in 2012, he never missed a game at Maine, suiting up in 112 straight while scoring 104 points, including a team-high 35 this season. He was a second-team All-American a year ago. In what would be his final game at Maine, he scored the goal that forced overtime with 4:41 remaining, the 34th of his career.

After a Jonathan Turk goal 16:05 into overtime won Game 3 of the Hockey East playoff series, Shore briefly choked up.

“It’s not the way you want to lose it,” he said, his voice breaking. “Sorry. I don’t think it’s fully hit us yet.”

He said he wasn’t sure then that he had just played his final game at Maine, but he knew it was likely.

Shore was an assistant captain last season and was voted captain by his teammates this year.

He called the moment he signed his pro contract “bittersweet.”

“It was hard to say goodbye to all the guys,” he said. “And it’s been great playing in front of the fans up there these three seasons. They took me in, and it was beyond my wildest dreams when I first decided to go to Maine. Once a Black Bear, always a Black Bear.”

Shore, of Ajax, Ontario, was also a top-notch student, honored last month for having the highest grade-point average on the hockey team in 2014. His pursuit of a finance degree will be put on hold.

The Texas Stars have a home game Wednesday, although Shore wasn’t sure if he would be playing so soon. The team has 19 regular-season games remaining, and Shore pronounced himself fresh enough to play in each if called upon.

“If someone asks me to play more hockey, I’m always going to say yes,” he said. “It’s a first-class organization and I’m excited to represent them. I’m just going to play whatever role they ask me to.”

Shore isn’t the only Black Bear junior facing a decision on a professional career. Defenseman Ben Hutton, a Vancouver Canucks draft pick, has not made a decision on whether to return to Maine for his senior season. It is his preference to do so, but he must weigh that desire against the risk of an injury derailing his professional career.

Hutton also was a second team all-America selection as a sophomore, and scored Maine’s first goal in Sunday’s finale at Vermont, giving him nine for the season.

Also, senior defenseman Jake Rutt of Scarborough signed to play with the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League. Fellow senior Connor Leen, a forward, is also hoping to play professionally, in the ECHL or Europe.

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

memmert@pressherald.com

Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH