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.

Axemen announce first recruit for 2021-22 season

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce their first recruit for the upcoming 2021-22 USports men’s hockey season, Keegan Stevenson. Keegan is a Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, native who played 4 years in the OHL with the Guelph Storm.

He has been described as the heart and soul, dependable player that every good team needs.

When asked what the Axemen fans can expect from him, Stevenson said, “The fans can expect to see a hard working, two-way forward that can play shutdown defence and create chances in the offensive end. Also, I enjoy participating in many community events and looking forward to meeting the fans.”

The 6’1 forward racked up 87 points in 179 regular season OHL games, with an impressive +29; and in 29 post season games, Stevenson added 8 points. His last two seasons saw the Storm forward come on strong, tallying 19 goals in 55 games in 2018-19 and 21 goals in 63 games in 2019-20.

The 2018-19 season saw Keegan’s Storm win the OHL conference and play in the Memorial Cup in Halifax. The team featured the likes of Nick Suzuki, Mackenzie Entwistle, Nate Schnarr, and Isaac Ratcliffe. Back in 2017-18 he suited up with a familiar face to Axemen fans, former assistant captain and standout defenceman Garrett McFadden.

Earlier this season in February, Stevenson was called up to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, seeing action in 1 regular season game.Read more »

5 different goal scorers in Acadia win

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – After a prolonged wait – and without the usual deafening fanfare – the Acadia Axemen returned to the Andrew H. McCain Arena for the first time in roughly a year to face off against the Dalhousie Tigers in a 5-3 win.

Despite falling down 2-0 in the first period and a late push from the Tigers, Acadia used their three unanswered goals in the second and beginning of the third to get their first win of 2021.

The Axemen first hit the ice in a 6-4 loss to the Saint Mary’s Huskies. This game is part of an exhibition series between the Axemen, the Tigers, and the Huskies.

The Tigers kicked off the scoring early, taking a 1-0 lead twenty seconds into the period on a goal from Chandler Yakimowicz.

Yakimowicz scored on a controversial play, as defenceman Christian Huntley threw a puck on net after appearing to step offside. Huntley’s shot came to Yakimowicz in front of the net and he tapped it in to make it 1-0.

Dalhousie doubled their lead at 10:22 in the first, when Matt Green notched a power-play marker. Green came into the offensive zone with a burst of speed, took a pass from Campbell Pickard and ripped a shot into the top right corner to make it 2-0.

The Tigers took their 2-0 lead into the second period, while leading in shots 9-7.

The second period saw the Axemen tie the game on goals from two rookies.Read more »

Southam nets 2 for Acadia in loss

Photo courtesy of SMU/Nick Pearce (2020 Playoffs)

HALIFAX, NS — The Saint Mary’s Huskies got goals from six different players and new goaltender Matthew Welsh (Halifax, NS) made 22 saves in his AUS debut to knock off the high-powered Acadia Axemen 6-4 in exhibition play at the Dauphinee Centre on Friday night.

It was the first game that either team had played in nearly a full calendar year – as the AUS season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent alleviation of some restrictions by the Nova Scotia government afforded Saint Mary’s the opportunity to host this exhibition – which felt like anything but.

The first period saw a mostly choppy affair as both teams attempted work off the 11 months of “rink rust” and get adjusted to playing at higher pace. After an extended stretch of scoreless play – which saw SMU kill off a penalty – Keith Getson (Bridgewater, NS) took a cross-seam pass from new captain Alexander Peters (Blyth, ONT) and one-timed a shot over the trapper of Acadia netminder Logan Flodell (Regina, SK) to break the deadlock. Huskies newcomer Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ONT) also drew a secondary assist on the goal.

Late in the frame, the Huskies would take another penalty, and on the ensuing penalty kill, SMU goaltender Matthew Welsh had to stand tall and make two or three sensational saves in tight to maintain the Huskies lead.

The second stanza was an offensive tug-of-war as both teams traded scoring opportunities and goals. Acadia drew even early in the period after a fabulous passing play which saw Mason McCarty (Blackie, Alta) feed Johnny Corneil (Lindsay, ONT) who converted to make it 1-1. Shortly thereafter, Saint Mary’s took a delay of game penalty which enabled the Axemen to take the lead off a deft tip-in by Rodney Southam (Saskatoon, SK) to make it 2-1 visitors.

The Huskies then had a golden opportunity to knot it up with two Axemen in the box – but failed to convert. However, not long after the penalties expired, SMU would strike on a nice cross-crease feed from Bradey Johnson (Lindsay, ONT) to Logan DeNoble (Peterborough, ONT) to square things at two.

Last season’s Rookie of the Year – and SMU’s leading scorer – Mitchell Balmas (Sydney, NS) got a fortunate bounce as his cross-crease feed for Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ONT) hit a skate and slid by Flodell’s pad to make it 3-2 Huskies.

However, just nine seconds later – off of the ensuing faceoff – Acadia would draw even when Rodney Southam would score his second of the frame into an empty cage after Matthew Welsh was caught out of position after a great bit of patience by Eric Henderson (Kingsville, ONT) who then dished out front to an open Southam.

Tied at three going into the third period, the Huskies attempted to apply the pressure to the Axemen – which resulted in several Acadia icings in the early going of the closing 20. Eventually, the pressure paid dividends as defenceman Walter Flower (Lunenburg, NS) hammered a shot from the point and forward Jake Durham (Port Perry, ONT) poked home the loose change to put the Huskies up 4-3.

About six minutes later, the Huskies would take their first two goal lead of the game when Joel Bishop (St. John’s, NFLD) picked off an errant Acadia pass and went in all alone on Flodell – and deked out the netminder for a highlight-reel goal.

Just 26 seconds later, the Axemen would close the deficit to one when Cristiano Digiacinto (Hamilton, ONT) caught Welsh out of position and tucked home a wrap-around to make it 5-4.

But that’s as close as the Axemen would get on this night – as Cedric Ralph directed in a cross-seam pass from Getson to make it 6-4 with less than five minutes left in regulation.

Courtesy of Drew McConnell, SMU Communications

Exhibition hockey action Friday at 7pm

Photo from Peter Oleskevich http://www.pjophotography.com/

Acadia Axemen hockey is back! The Axemen will play an exhibition game on Friday at 7pm in Halifax against the Saint Mary’s Huskies. For all the action, and to cheer on your Acadia Axemen tune in on AUStv.ca!

While official USports and AUS regular season & playoff action has been cancelled for the 2020-21 season, the Axemen will play a number of exhibition games, currently against Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie, as long as public health deems it is safe to do so. No fans will be permitted to attend the games at this point in time.

Coach Darren Burns was excited to see his team suit up this week saying, “We are very excited to begin playing games. We truly appreciate the support of Acadia University for athletics and our hockey program. We realize our athletic department has worked very hard to make this happen and we are excited that our guys will get to play the game they love.”

Axemen fans got their first taste of 2020-21 Acadia hockey action last weekend as the team played an intrasquad game which was webcasted on AUStv.ca. The team split up into two squads with just 12 players aside, playing 4 periods which included pre-arranged penalty killing/powerplay situations for both sides. Axemen first year forward Tyler Hinam was a standout in the game, scoring 2 goals.

In a story released by CBC on Wednesday, Acadia University Director of Athletics Kevin Dickie said, “It’s very special that they’re now going to get a chance to be able to compete, even if it’s just a small number of games over a short period of time, it really isn’t so much about winning now, it’s just about getting the chance to play the sport they love, and that means a lot.”

AUS to allow member-driven competition this winter semester if public health directives allow

(HALIFAX, N.S.) Atlantic University Sport has announced that it will not proceed with conference-sanctioned regular seasons or postseasons for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and will not host any conference championships.

However, AUS will allow member-driven competition for the upcoming winter semester.

The decision means schools will be permitted to engage in competition at a level they are comfortable with, and would likely see the teams involved face opponents they are in closer proximity to geographically.

Each of the AUS’s 11 individual member universities will determine its own level of participation in accordance with the most up-to-date public health directives.

“We had hoped to be able to get to a place where we could see some semblance of a regular season and postseason take place for our winter sport student-athletes,” said AUS executive director Phil Currie. “Unfortunately given the current realities in many of our regions, and evolving public health directives, this won’t be possible.”

“What we are encouraged by is the decision of our board of directors to continue to allow member-driven competition in the new year if public health guidelines allow. The safety of our student-athletes, campuses and surrounding communities is the top priority. But we are also in the business of delivering sport opportunities to young people. And our member universities intend to provide those opportunities so long as the experts deem it safe to do so at that time.”

Last month, AUS announced the formation of a new committee dedicated to exploring possible return-to-play options for January 2021 and beyond.

The Return-to-Play Committee was comprised of an athletic director from each of the four Atlantic provinces, along with two representatives from the AUS conference office. Its mandate was to develop a framework which would allow for a safe and viable return to conference-sanctioned competition this season.

“With guidance and input from public health and building on a lot of the groundwork already laid regarding safe practices on our respective campuses, we were able to create a very thorough plan in a short window of time,” said UNB director of athletics and AUS president John Richard, who served as chair of the AUS Return-to-Play Committee.

The committee developed a comprehensive framework which includes guidelines for participants and facilities, travel considerations, risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans and possible approaches to sport programming.

The framework was first submitted to public health in the four Atlantic provinces for feedback, and was then deliberated on by the AUS board of directors, which is comprised of the presidents of each of its member universities.

“As a group that is extremely passionate about sport, we are disappointed for our student-athletes and stakeholders that regular seasons and championships won’t be possible this winter. But we acknowledge and respect the current realities and the steps being taken by those in leadership positions to keep everyone safe,” said Richard.

“We’re still hopeful there will be a pathway for meaningful competition for many of our student-athletes this winter and we’re grateful the board has afforded us that opportunity.”

“The Board was extremely impressed with the detailed framework developed by the Return-to-Play Committee,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, chair of the AUS board of directors and president of Acadia University. “But, given the state of the pandemic in our region and having the health and safety of our student-athletes first and foremost in our minds, we could not see our way to endorsing a return to conference competition play at this time or in the near future.”

AUS member schools intend to utilize the content developed in the return-to-play document as they determine their respective paths forward next semester.

Fundamental to the framework is the principle that the most current public health directives will always determine the approach and that any and all planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in any relevant region.