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High school ice hockey

Helping hand: Ice Cat alumnus Spear skates in as team's interim coach

Cooperative squad includes rink athletes from handful of area county schools
By Mark Haskell | Dec 12, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Midcoast Ice Cats coach Parker Spear talks to his players during a practice.

Rockport — During his time as a member of the Midcoast Ice Cats, Parker Spear, who minded the net for the majority of his four years on the team, always was good with his hands.

Now, he is lending one.

With the cooperative team’s backs up against a wall without a coach, the 25-year-old Spear has traded in his trusty stick and pads for a clipboard and will be the team’s interim coach for the 2019-20 season.

Spear steps in for Phil Bellows, who guided the team one season.

The Ice Cats are a cooperative high school coed team that draws from high schools in Knox, Waldo, Lincoln and Kennebec counties.

For Spear, the interim tag is part of the condition for his stepping in to fill the void left by Bellows. The Rockland native is now a third mate deck officer for navigation and cargo operations for Overseas Shipholding Group. He spends his time largely working on tanker ships in the Gulf of Mexico on 90-day rotations.

As it turned out, he returned home on Nov. 5.

“I learned from my mom that the Ice Cats were without a coach,” he said. “It got close to practices and no one had stepped up yet. And I said, ‘Hey, I’m a former player, I’m home on vacation, I’m playing men’s league on Sundays [and] I still enjoy hockey.’ So I decided, I have the time, I might as well help.”

Spear graduated from Oceanside High School in 2012, where he competed in ice hockey, golf and track and field for the Mariners — and previously for the Rockland Tigers — as Oceanside was formed in 2011 as a combination of Rockland and Georges Valley high schools.

After a year at Bridgton Academy — a college prep school in western Maine, where he also played ice hockey — Spear went on to Maine Maritime Academy, where he graduated in 2017 with a degree in Marine Transportation Operations.

Spear played forward as a freshman for the Ice Cats, then, largely to fill a need, he became the team’s goalie from sophomore to senior year. He also was a defender during his time at Bridgton.

Now, after playing offense, defense and in net, he can add coach to his budding hockey resumé.

“I always wanted to be a coach,” he said. “I enjoy helping people. I enjoy helping the guys and making sure they get on the ice safely. I like to think I have an eye for the safety making sure no one is getting hit wrong or hitting unsafely. I wanted to help, and there was no reason not to.”

Spear was quick to point out he has no prior coaching experience, though he has had “leadership positions in the regimen” aboard the Overseas Cascade, a shuttle tanker that moves crude oil around the Gulf of Mexico.

So, Peter Clapp, a longtime coach and instructor with Maine Coast Skaters' Association (MCSA), will assist Spear.

Spear was equally quick to note that, technically, the Ice Cats are still looking for a coach.

“They’re still looking for a coach,” he said. “The season goes into March, I have to leave in the middle of January, so I’m just trying to give as much as I can until then.”

Midcoast Ice Cats team members include Andrew Donald of Searsport District High School, Zane Boulet, Yanic Boulet and Dominic Rodrigue of Erskine Academy of South China; Vincent Bonarrigo and Thomas Parker of Belfast Area High School; Ethan Reed and Zackery Benner of Medomak Valley; Alton Coolidge of Lincoln Academy of Newcastle; and Caleb Powell, Jeret Winchenbach, Kolya Philbrook and Jameson Bell of Oceanside High School of Rockland.

The Ice Cats, who play a mostly junior varsity schedule, begin their season Friday, Dec. 13 at 4:20 p.m. against Camden Hills at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport.

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