Friday, October 28, 2011

New-Look Pirates: Not Looking Too Good

By Scott Andrews
Staff Columnist
The Portland Pirates sport a new look for the 2011-2012 season. There’s been a near-total turnover in players plus a new NHL parent club and a new head coach.
But the new-look Pirates aren’t looking too good on the ice, at least so far. At press time (on Tuesday) the Pirates sported a 2-3-0-1 record over the first three weeks of their 80-game season, good for a .417 percentage. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance to be sure, but the overall picture is dominated by a sputtering offense and a porous defense.
That’s a far cry from the recent past. Last year’s Pirates had excellent results, posting a 47-24-7-2 record for a .644 percentage, one of the best showings in Portland history.
What’s the story? As in all minor league sports, changing parent club affiliations is a constant factor. Following the 2010-2011 season, the Buffalo Sabres transferred all of their American Hockey League players from Portland to Rochester, N.Y., to become the newest incarnation of the Rochester Americans.
(The American Hockey League is the game’s second tier, a single step below the big time. AHL players are under contract to their NHL parent clubs, and they can be called up at any time.)
Soon after Buffalo’s move, Pirates principal owner Brian Petrovek inked a new affiliation pact with the Phoenix Coyotes to move their AHL players to Maine. As a result, the Portland Pirates are now the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. Or another way of putting it, they’re last year’s San Antonio Rampage.
But Phoenix is a franchise with a troubled financial history. The team is currently owned by the NHL in a caretaker role. The NHL is trying to unload the club, and a change of home city will likely accompany any transfer. On a positive note, the Coyotes have enjoyed two consecutive winning seasons.
From the fans’ point of view, the principal consequence of the above moves is an almost-total turnover of players. The lone holdover is Igor Gongalsky, a Ukrainian-born forward who made a minor impact over 54 games with the Pirates in 2010-2011.
In an unrelated move, Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen, who was popular with both the players and the fans, seized his well-deserved – and long overdue – opportunity to step up to an NHL head coaching position. Dineen, who owns the best coaching record in Pirates history, now helms the Florida Panthers.
Ray Edwards, in his second year as an AHL head coach, will stand behind the Pirates’ bench this season. With San Antonio last season he posted a 40-33-0-7 record for a .544 percentage.
This year’s Pirates? A big question mark.
Unquestionably the Coyotes’ top prospect is Andy Miele, a Michigan native who won last year’s Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey. Miele is a sparkplug whose stature on the ice far exceeds his 5-foot-8 height and his 180 pounds. He enjoyed a stellar game on Oct. 19, tallying two goals and three assists as the Pirates beat Manchester. At press time, Miele had been called up to Phoenix.
Like Miele, the Pirates are young and relatively inexperienced. Edwards will be relying on a few veterans to help guide his up-and-coming players. In particular, look for center Ryan Hollweg, defenseman Dean Arsene and goalie Curtis McElhinney to provide a crucial center of gravity.
Edward summarized the situation. “There are a lot of new people in the organization,” he said. “Every day we’re learning who we are.”
Photo caption: Forward Andy Miele promises to be one of the top players for the Portland Pirates this season. He’s shown here in the Phoenix Coyotes September training camp. (Jeff Gross photo)

Berwick Student Wins World Equestrian Championship

Gabrielle Blackman (Kittery Point, ME), a junior at Berwick Academy, recently participated in the Grand National Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City and won the world championship for Classic Pleasure Saddle, Jr. Exhibitors ages 14-17. Gabrielle has been riding since she was six years old and trains year round at Taylor River Farm in Hampton Falls, NH under the direction of Sarah Gove and Richard Boule. She competes March through October in A level regional shows and, after winning the national championship, qualified to move onto compete in the world championship this year. Gabrielle took home the top prize over 23 other competitors.
Gabrielle participates in the high school equestrian athlete program sponsored by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and has received her varsity pin for riding for her freshman and sophomore years.
At Berwick Academy, Gabrielle plays on the basketball team, works on the Upper School literary magazine, “The Vernacular,” and is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance. Gabrielle also plays the guitar and sings at BA. She has performed in Winterfest, an audition-based show that features the School’s most talented musicians, dancers, and artists, for the past two years.
Photo caption: Gabrielle Blackman ’13 was recently crowned Classic Pleasure Saddle, Jr. Champion. (Courtesy photo)

Marshwood Middle School Celebrates Veterans Day

On November 10, 2011, Marshwood Middle School will commemorate its eleventh annual Veterans Day Celebration. The school-wide assembly, which starts at 9:00 a.m., features various tributes from students and faculty to local veterans. Last year, over 230 guests attended the school’s gathering. Several veterans are invited by Marshwood students because they have grandparents, parents, aunts, uncle, neighbors or community members who have served our country.
Local police and fire department members and various dignitaries including town officials, school board members, and state representatives attend the celebration to honor our veterans. All guests form a reception line at 8:30 a.m. and the students greet guests with small talk and a handshake. The reception line emphasizes a personal touch for every student to come in contact with the guests. This small act assists in setting the tone of the celebration.
As everyone gathers in the gymnasium, patriotic music is played and within the next hour, various tributes are presented in form of song, readings and power point presentations. After the Celebration, there is a reception in the library for guests and faculty.
It is extremely important for students to understand the sacrifices our veterans have made and continue to make for us. The veterans are touched by the sincerity and respect from the students and enjoy the assembly. We all at times can take our freedoms for granted, but this celebration encourages us all to remember the sacrifices made for us as Americans and to once again recognize that freedom is never really free.
Photo caption: Marshwood Middle School will host its 11th annual community Veterans Day celebration on November 10. (Courtesy photo)

Portsmouth Shipyard Earns Energy Award

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has earned the Secretary of the Navy’s Energy and Water Management Award for fiscal 2011.
The award, of which there were only seven throughout the Department of the Navy, notes significant reductions in energy and water use.
The shipyard has cut its energy use by nearly 55 percent since 2004, and its water usage by just short of 20 percent since 2007.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus congratulated those winning the award, terming their efforts “critical to the accomplishment of the Navy’s mission.”
“Your excellence in energy and water efficiency efforts are an example for all other commands to follow,” he said. “We must all continue to be good stewards of our resources.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Sheehan, D-N.H., also praised the shipyard for winning the award.
“Congratulations on this significant achievement,” Sen. Collins said. “I look forward to seeing the Secretary of the Navy Energy Flag flown at Portsmouth during the next year.”
“This prestigious award recognizes the significant accomplishments of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s comprehensive energy efficiency program, aggressive awareness campaign.”
“Your accomplishments and dedication is reflected in your success, and I look forward to seeing your energy improvements continue as the Navy intends to make nearly $100 million in facility and restoration investments during Fiscal Year 2012,” she said.
Collins also praised the Navy Support Activity Portsmouth for its gold level achievement for outstanding energy programs.
“These notable achievements have set new standards and created a model of performance not just for the Navy, but for the Department of Defense and private industry,” she said.
Shaheen, who with Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, presented the award to the shipyard, said the Navy “has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce the federal government’s energy use, and the Portsmouth Shipyard is a great example of the progress it has made.”
“I commend the Navy and the shipyard for their leadership on energy efficiency, for their dedication to improving our nation’s energy security, and for their commitment to ensuring the shipyard is operating at its best.”
“It is an honor to be recognized for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s energy and water management efforts,” Capt. Bryant Fuller, the shipyard commander, said. “Our goal is always to improve our conservation programs, as the result is a true cost and energy savings for the nation. This award is truly a testament to the entire Shipyard, led by our Energy Task Force, pulling in the same direction to take great strides in reducing our water and energy consumption.”
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, established in June 1800, is the oldest continually operated shipyard in the U.S. Navy.
During World War II over 70 submarines were built at the yard that then employed more than 20,000 workers. One noteworthy achievement during that time was the launching of four submarines in one day.
The shipyard built nuclear powered submarines in the ’50s, launching its first, the USS Swordfish, in 1957, and its last, the Sandlance, in 1969.
Since then it has overhauled and upgraded Los Angeles class submarines and is now doing similar work on the Virginia class.