With football season over, spring training a few weeks away and the Celtics basically off everyone’s radar, it’s all about hockey right now. You can follow Team U.S.A. or the NHL on the tube, or you could watch the IHL — the Island Hockey League — play in person at the “Leland Royce Osgood Arena,” located at the ball ground.
The IHL is comprised of about 20 players ranging from age 10 to 40(-ish). Coordinated by Mark Augusto, with help from Greg Hopkins, the league can be found playing on the weekends and after school when the ball ground or Old Harbor is frozen solid. Greg spreads the word of game times on Facebook and on average, he said, about eight to 12 players gather to form two teams, pink and blue. When more skaters show up, a third team sits out and waits to play the winner. “This works out well for the 40-somethings who tend to tire more quickly than the younger players,” Greg said. Many bring their own gear, but there are always extra sticks for anyone who wants to join.
A group of volunteers — including Lawrence and Robert Wadsworth, Sig and Bobby Beckman, Eric Murray and Raymond Webster — plow the ball ground so skaters and hockey players can enjoy the ice. Last week, in addition to clearing the entire area, the plowmen formed a hockey rink on one side of the field complete with snowboards to help keep the puck in play. The arena, nicknamed “The Royce,” is named after Lee Osgood, who donated old purse seine netting for Greg’s homemade PVC pipe goals. A big thank you goes out to everyone who helps keep the island tradition of skating on the ball ground alive and well.
Another sport on the town’s mind: high school basketball. February means Tourney Time in Maine — preliminary games were played this week, and Western Class D quarter- and semifinal rounds will be held next week in Augusta during winter vacation. The boys team missed the cut this year, ending their season in 13th place. The girls finished in 8th place at 11-7, forcing them to play a home prelim game versus No. 9 North Yarmouth Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 11. The score of the game was unavailable by this week’s deadline, but if the Vikings prevailed, they will face the top seed, undefeated Forest Hills, on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.
In town news, several items were passed at a special meeting Feb. 4. The 2025 Vinalhaven Comprehensive Plan, the result of two years of research, meetings, and surveys, was approved in a unanimous vote. The Planning Commission and Board of Selectmen will work to initiate and follow through with the plan’s recommendations over the next 10 years, according to Andy Dorr, who helped draft the plan.
The town acquired another burial ground after it was voted to accept the donation of Cummings Cemetery from Donald C. Young. Also approved was an appropriation of up to $87,500 to match a grant received from the state’s Small Harbor Improvement Program. The money will be used to repair the wooden pilings supporting the wharf in the parking lot on Main Street. With the grant, the town will match half of the cost of the project, which is estimated around $160,000. It has to be designed, put out to bid and approved by the Department of Transportation along the way, but Town Manager Marjorie Stratton says the relatively simple project should get under way sometime this year.
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