Colella with two assists for Acadia

WOLFVILLE, N.S – For the first time since the 2019-20 season, the Acadia Axemen played in front of fans in the Andrew H. McCain Arena. Despite a strong effort from Acadia, they dropped their first exhibition game of the season to the Saint Mary’s Huskies 4-3 in OT.

Saint Mary’s opened the scoring early, with a beautiful passing play that was finished by forward – and second star of the night – Dennis Busby when he cut in front of the net and tipped a pass under the crossbar.

Acadia responded late in the period with a goal from Subway First Star of the Night Mason McCarty to tie the game. McCarty scored after picking up a rebound in front of the net and shovelling it past the sprawling goaltender to make it 1-1.

By the end of the first period, the shots were 14-10 for the Axemen.

The Huskies were quick to break the tie in the second, as Nathan Dunkley broke in wide on the left and rifled a snapshot into the top right corner to make it 2-1.

Adam McMaster answered for the Axemen at the midpoint of the second period. Maurizio Colella got the puck in front of the net and pushed it out to McMaster, who threw it past the screened Huskies goalie into the wide-open right side of the net to knot the game at 2-2.

Despite opportunities on both sides, including a mad scramble in front of the Huskies net with multiple scoring chances that led to an Axemen power-play, the game remained tied heading into the final frame.

By the end of the second period Acadia pulled ahead in the shot department, leading 25-16.

While the game remained deadlocked for the first half of the final period, the tie was broken with 10:13 left to play in the final period on a goal from forward Loch Morrison.

Morrison took a pass from behind the net and fired it past the Saint Mary’s tender to give Acadia their first lead of the game.

Yet, the Huskies were determined to stay in the game, as they tied it late in the frame on a point shot from defenceman Zachary Hoffman wired past a diving Flodell.

A highlight of the third period came when Axemen goalie Logan Flodell dove across his crease to rob a sure Huskies goal with his blocker and glove.

With the game tied at the end of regulation, the Axemen and Huskies headed to a 5-minute 3-on-3 OT.

Although Acadia had multiple scoring opportunities in the extra frame, it was Huskies defenceman – and third star of the night – Cedric Ralph who ended the game on a 2-on-1. Ralph redirected a pass from Busby off his leg and into the net for the game-winner.

Axemen goaltender Logan Flodell turned aside 16 of 20 shots, while his Saint Mary’s counterpart Matt Welsh stopped 35 of 38 shots.

Acadia plays three more exhibition games before kicking off their regular season against the Dalhousie Tigers on Oct. 8 in Wolfville. The Axemen are in Fredericton, NB this Friday night to take on host UNB.

Submitted by Josh Foote
Acadia Athletics Communications

Axemen add defenceman to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of defenceman Merrick Rippon to our hockey program. Merrick, a native of Ottawa, is described as a hard-hitting defenceman who played his junior career on the blue line for parts of three OHL seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads and his hometown Ottawa 67’s.

Originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers, his OHL rights were moved from Kitchener to Mississauga, where he played to start the 2017-2018 season. At the Christmas break, the 6-foot-1 defenceman was dealt to the Ottawa 67’s.

Over his OHL tenure, he has suited up for parts of three seasons with the 67’s in the OHL. Rippon has a total of 54 points in 168 regular-season games played in the league and was a big part of a long playoff run in 2019, which saw the 67’s sweep their first three playoff series on route to a 4-2 series loss in the J. Ross Robertson Cup finals. Following the season, Rippon was invited to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes rookie camp, but couldn’t attend due to an injury.

In 2020, Rippon was on track for a career year before the season came to an abrupt halt, recording 13 points in 36 games played.

With the OHL not playing due to the pandemic in 2021, Rippon signed a amateur tryout (ATO) with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. Merrick suited up for 1 game with the AHL club.

Coach Burns is excited to add Rippon saying, “Merrick comes from a tremendous background as he was an integral part of the Ottawa 67s. He is an excellent addition for us as he played in an organization which is extremely high profile and a lot of responsibility comes with playing there as it does here. He has a team first mentality and is a fierce two way defencemen with very good mobility . He is tailor made for AUS hockey. He’s all about compete and accountability on the ice. He will be counted on heavily to play against teams top lines.”

Rippon joins a very impressive recruiting class put together by Coach Burns and his staff, with the additions of netminder Max Paddock, fellow defensemen Luke Zazula and Olie Mainolfi, and forwards Luke Moncada, Keegan Stevenson, and Adam McMaster. The Acadia Axemen are the host team for the 2021-22 UCup national tournament, taking place in March in Halifax.

Jim Midgley named NHL assistant coach

Former Acadia Axemen assistant coach Jim Midgley has been named assistant coach of the NHL’s New York Rangers. Midgley joins Prince Edward Island’s Gerard Gallant’s coaching staff, along with assistant coach Mike Kelly, also from PEI and a UNB hockey alumnus. Midgley was an assistant coach with Acadia from 2002 thru 2007.

Jim, 43, originally from Townsend, Ontario, is currently an assistant coach with Team Canada’s women’s national team at the World Championships in Calgary; the head coach of that team is another former Assistant Coach for the Axemen, Troy Ryan. The two were also to serve in the same positions for the 2022 Beijing Olympics for Team Canada, although with his new position, Midgley will likely need to pass on the Olympic opportunity.

Prior to working with Team Canada, Jim scouted for the Philadelphia Flyers and was an assistant coach with the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in 2019-20. He was the head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in 2017-18 after serving as an assistant coach for six seasons (2011-17). Midgley was also an assistant coach with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL (2007-09) and). He was the video coach for Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship.

 

Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns was thrilled to hear the hiring news by the Rangers saying, “We are so excited for Midge. He is one of the great young minds in the game of hockey. He has kept focussed and continued to study the game over the last couple years, while not coaching and now he is a member of an original six franchise. It is all about being a real quality hockey person and having perseverance.  It’s great to see this Maritime connection. There’s a reason why Gerard and Mike’s teams never underachieve. They understand motivation and being real with their players. In adding Midge to their staff, they have just added a huge piece of the puzzle to help them continue their reputation as one of the top coaching tandems in hockey. We are very proud of Midge and we wish him all the best!”

 

Midgley played his junior career, in the OHL, with the North Bay Centennials & the Belleville Bulls before heading east to suit up for the Acadia rival, Saint Mary’s Huskies for 4 years; serving as Captain of the team for 3 of those years.

The Acadia Axemen hockey program would like to congratulate Midge on his new role with the Rangers, as we’ll be watching and routing for him this season in Wolfville!

A familiar face, Scott Trask, joins the hockey staff

This past year was a challenge for all university sport hockey teams and for the Axemen it was no different, however it was the program’s philosophy not to make excuses and move ahead to get better wherever possible.

The addition of alumnus Scott Trask, as the strength and conditioning coach, has proven to be a crucial step in this season’s preparation. “Scottie has been a huge addition for our program. We are fortunate that many recent alumni are deciding to make the Annapolis Valley their home and we are extremely fortunate he made this choice as well”, explained head coach Darren Burns.

“It’s pretty simple he has never underachieved as a person or a player and has always been on successful teams. He has always been a committed teammate and person. You can’t go wrong with adding a person with these qualities. I learned a lot from coaching him and as a staff we knew he would be a huge addition for our program.”

Trask, a native of Bonavista, Newfoundland, played 3 seasons with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, winning the league title in 2009-10. He finished up his junior career by captaining the Summerside Western Capitals Junior A to a MJAHL championship in 2012-13. He then joined the Acadia Axemen from 2013-2017 notching 15 points in 84 regular season games. He won back-to-back SPHL championships with the Huntsville Havoc in 2017-18/2018-19. Scott also suited up for 2 games in the ECHL with his hometown Newfoundland Growlers in their expansion season of 2018-19.

We asked Scott about what it meant to be back with the Acadia hockey program and his focus in his new role, he said, “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to give back to a program that gave me so much during my time as an Axemen.  It means a lot to be in this role as it is something that I’m passionate about and take great pride in.  In my role, my focus for the team is to get the athletes game ready and help prepare them to compete for a National Championship.”

Coach Burns added, “Scott was raised to work hard and to be a leader and he brings this same type of mentor ship to our players. The reality is these players need the best resources to be the best players and people they can be if they want to be winners. As a staff you need to utilize different resources and that’s where Scott has been huge in our players off season training. We are lucky here in the Valley, as many players found employment here this summer and we are thankful to the many local businesses who have supported them, so that they could stay here this summer to get ready for the upcoming season.”

The Axemen would also like to recognize Josh Nowlan, their student strength & conditioning coach, who did an excellent job this past winter with the players.

Acadia adds skilled forward to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Beamsville, Ontario native Adam McMaster to the hockey program. Adam is a 5’10” forward, who played his junior career in the OHL with the North Bay Battalion and Owen Sound Attack. He was originally drafted in the 1st round, 13th overall by North Bay in the OHL priority draft.

 

After 2 ½ years with the Battalion, he moved on to Owen Sound in 2018-19. In that season with the two clubs he combined for 51 points in 69 regular season game. In his only full season with the Attack in 2019-20, he added 42 points in 60 games in the shortened season due to the pandemic. The OHL did not play in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, so McMaster did not play an overage junior year.  In the four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League Adam tallied 50 goals, 95 assists for 145 points in 254 regular season games.  He also added eight assists in 10 playoff games.

 

We asked Adam what made him choose Acadia for the next chapter of his career, and he said, “Through talking with Coach Burns for the past 7 or 8 months I could tell Acadia is a place that I could further my education and also my playing career. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Acadia and the AUS conference. I am excited to get to Acadia and play in front of the Axemen fans!

 

When McMaster described his own play he said, “Axemen fans can expect a fast paced player who is very creative in both ends of the ice. A player who loves to use his edges and speed in order to create plays for my teammates.”

 

To watch a highlight pack of McMaster’s OHL play, visit:

https://ontariohockeyleague.com/video/ohlalumni-class-of-2021-adam-mcmaster

 

Head Coach Darren Burns spoke highly of the Axemen new addition saying, “Adam will be a very important addition to our line up. He is a very good skater with excellent offensive skills. His creativity and vision will be a huge asset on our Olympic ice. We needed to increase our offensive output this season and Adam will no doubt help us. He can put the puck in the net and brings a lot of creativity to the powerplay.”

 

The first year forward joins an already impressive Acadia hockey recruiting class, which includes netminder Max Paddock, defensemen Luke Zazule & Olie Mainolfi, and forwards Luke Moncada & Keegan Stevenson.

Axemen add talented centreman to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Luke Moncada, from Markham, Ontario to the program. Luke is a 6’1” centre who played 4 seasons of junior in the OHL, and spent last season in the AHL.

We asked Moncada what made him chose Acadia for his next step, he said, “Through conversations with Darren Burns and Kris Mcdonald alongside speaking with current and former Acadia players, it was clear that Acadia offered me the best opportunity to further both my education and hockey career. Between the on and off ice training regiment at Acadia and the highly competitive AUS conference, it was clear that Acadia was the best fit for me.

Luke described his own play saying, “Axemen fans can expect to see a responsible 200 ft centremen that impacts the game on both ends of the ice. A player with a lot of passion and heart and will do anything to help my team win.”

Luke was drafted 42nd overall in the 2016 OHL Priority draft by the Guelph Storm. After playing for the Storm in his first season, he was traded to the North Bay Battalion. In the 2019-20 season, he was named assistant captain with North Bay and had his best offensive season, scoring 34 goals in 62 regular season games, and a total of 60 points.

Over 4 years in the OHL, Moncada played in 234 regular season games, scoring 106 points and adding 134 penalty minutes.

In 2020-21, Luke played with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, where he added 3 points in 17 games, and had a +5 plus/minus rating.

Coach Burns is very pleased with the new addition to the Acadia lineup saying, “Luke is a huge addition for our program. It was extremely important to add a player of his skill level to our line up. He is a very gifted two way forward who plays a strong game all over the ice. His intelligence on the ice allows him to be very versatile. Spending the season in the American Hockey League will help him bring a lot of experience to our program in his first year. It was easy to tell in my discussions with him that he has a tremendous passion for the game.”

Moncada joins an impressive recruiting lineup for the upcoming season which also includes netminder Max Paddock, defensemen Luke Zazule & Olie Mainolfi, and forward Keegan Stevenson.

Acadia was named the host team for the USports hockey national tournament this March in Halifax, NS, after hosting the 2020 tournament which was halted after one day of play due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Axemen add two-way defenceman to lineup

Photo from Larry Brunt https://amshockey.com/

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of defenceman Luke Zazula to the hockey program. The 5’8” blueliner from Langley B.C., spent over 5 seasons in the WHL, including being called up to the junior league’s Kamloops Blazers as a 15 year old. He would then play 3 ½ seasons with the Blazers before being traded to the Tri-City Americans where he spent the last year and a half.

We asked Luke about coming to Acadia, he said, “I’m pumped to be attending Acadia. It was the first call I had with a school where I had a good feeling and some excitement; my family and I figured it was the best place to further my hockey career.”

When asked what Axemen fans can expect to see from him on the ice, Luke added, “I’m a 2-way defenceman, who loves getting involved in the O-Zone and loves the game.”

Zazula was named captain of the Tri-City team this past year and notched 9 points in 18 games in the shortened season due to the pandemic.

Back in 2019-2020, in just 37 games with the Americans, he led the team’s defensemen in scoring with five goals and 16 assists and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.

In total over his time in the WHL, Luke played in 239 regular season games, adding 82 points and 256 penalty minutes, adding 3 points in 12 playoff games.

Coach Burns is excited to have Zazula’s compete level added to the lineup saying, “Luke is a highly competitive player that combines will with skill. He is an excellent skater, who will help create offence for our team breaking the puck out on our large ice surface. He is a very skilled player, who sees the ice well and can run a powerplay. You can tell in talking to him how much he loves the game. Its nice to see a player with his offensive abilities display a high compete level. He doesn’t back down from anyone and although his skill and skating are obviously strengths, we believe his compete will no doubt be an asset to our program.”

Zazula joins an impressive crop of Axemen recruits announced so far which includes defenceman Olie Mainolfi, forward Keegan Stevenson, and goalie Max Paddock.  Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming days and weeks.

Axemen add defensive stalwart

Photo : archives, Ghyslain Bergeron/LHJMQ

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of Orlando Mainolfi. Orie, a 6’1” defenceman from Richmond Hill, Ontario, suited up the last two years with the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. He notched 13 points in 85 regular season games.

We caught up with Orie and asked him why he choose Acadia, he said, “I chose Acadia because I’ve heard nothing but great things about the program and the town from everyone I spoke to, and I think it’ll be a really good experience for me moving forward.”

When asked about what Axemen fans can expect from him on the ice, he responded, “my game is more of a shutdown defenceman, who will always look to make the simple play. I take pride in taking care of my own zone first and blocking shots.”

Prior to his time in the QMJHL, he played 2 ½ years in the OJHL with the Markham Royals and Pickering Panthers, adding 16 points in 91 regular season games.

Coach Darren Burns says Orie’s addition is an important one for the Acadia defence corps, saying, “Orlando is a player we think is built for AUS hockey. He continues to get better each year because he has passion and plays the game hard everyday.  He knows structure and he knows accountability. Orie is a very good penalty killer, who is self less in blocking shots, playing physical and doing anything he can to make sure the other team does not score. These are the players you must have to win in this league. It’s pretty simple he’s a kid we believe will show up with an attitude of, what do you need me to do to help us win.”

Mainolfi joins netminder Max Paddock and forward Keegan Stevenson as new recruits for the Axemen, with more new additions to be announced in the coming days.

With USports announcing a full return of sports this upcoming fall, the excitement builds for the Axemen and their fans to hit the ice at the Andrew H. McCain Arena for the 2021-22 season.

Acadia adds highly touted netminder

Axemen recruit Max Paddock makes a save while playing for the Prince Albert Raiders. Photo credit to Jeff D’Andrea/paNOW Staff

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of netminder Max Paddock to the team starting in the fall of 2021. Standing at 6’2”, Max is a native of Brandon, Manitoba, and has spent the past 5 season playing in the WHL with the Regina Pats and most recently the Prince Albert Raiders.

Over those 5 years, Paddock played in 148 regular season games, with a 64-58-14 record, with a 3.01 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. In 2018, Max backstopped the Regina Pats to a Memorial Cup final appearance for the host team, and was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team, as a rookie.

We asked Max about his decision to come to Acadia, he said, “For me the decision was pretty easy when Burnsy reached out to me; first off, my cousin Travis Young played for the Axemen a while back and he had nothing but good things to say about the program. Also knowing that Jordy Stallard, another Brandon, Manitoba native, will help make the transition out east a lot smoother.”

In the shortened 2020-21 WHL season, Max was named the Prince Albert Raiders most valuable player. He also earned an amateur tryout with the AHL’s Stockton Heat in 2021, his second pro camp, as he also took part in the San Jose Sharks rookie camp in 2018. He had been invited to the Winnipeg Jets summer development camp in 2019, but was unable to attend after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.

Acadia head coach Darren Burns is excited with the addition of Paddock in net, saying, “We believe we have added one of the best goalies in the Canadian Hockey League in Max. He had a great year to finish his junior career and has been a player who has excellent memorial cup experience, carrying the ball when Regina hosted the pressure filled tournament. He comes from an excellent hockey background in terms of family pedigree and has a great reputation as a person and teammate. Everyone knows the goaltending position is the most important in hockey. Max is a major positive addition for our program.”

The family pedigree Coach Burns referred to includes his uncle John Paddock who coached in the NHL and has been a GM/coach in the AHL and junior levels through much of the past 20 years; also as mentioned by Max, he is also a cousin to former Acadia Axemen player and assistant coach, alumnus Travis Young.

With the addition of Paddock, and returning 2019-20 AUS MVP, Logan Flodell, the Axemen goaltending duo will rival the best in USports, and will give Acadia a chance to win on every given night in the ultra competitive AUS conference.

When asked to describe his on ice game, Max said, “I’m a competitor who relies on athleticism to make saves and I enjoy doing whatever it takes to win hockey games.”

Paddock joins Keegan Stevenson as 2021-22 Axemen recruits, with more additions to be announced in the upcoming days. We look forward to seeing Max in net this upcoming season in an Acadia Axemen jersey.

Want to see Max Paddock in action? Watch the highlight video from his time in the WHL.