Eight unanswered goals gives Axemen 8-1 win over UPEI

Leier leads the way with 3 goals & 2 assists

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – On the back of Axemen forward, Boston Leier’s (Saskatoon, Sask.) five-point performance, U Sports No. 4 ranked Acadia (14-6-1) dominated the UPEI Panthers (8-19-3) to win 8-1 on Friday night in Wolfville. Acadia scored eight unanswered goals after UPEI opened with a 1-0 lead, early in the first period.

UPEI jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, when second-year forward RT Rice (Invermere, B.C.), fired a rocket of a wrist shot past Axemen goalie, Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.), and off the crossbar to put UPEI ahead.

Acadia responded a little over a minute later, on the power-play, when defenseman Daniel Pettersson (Toronto, Ont.), moved the puck across the blue-line to his defense partner, Matthew Pufahl (Saskatoon, Sask.), who fired it past the Panthers goalie Matt Mahalak (Monrow, Michigan) to tie the game.

Pufahl continued to be an asset on the power-play, when Boston Leier picked up a rebound on Pufahl’s point shot and buried it past a sprawling Mahalak, to give the Axemen a 2-1 lead on the man-advantage goal. Read more ›

Posted in Game Recaps

No. 7 Axemen top Moncton 4-1 in 2017 home opener

Steeves with another strong game in goal

WOLFVILLE, N.S – The new year has been kind to the U Sports No. 7 ranked Acadia Axemen (13-6-1) so far, as they improve to 2-0 in 2017 after defeating the Moncton Aigles Bleus (7-11-1) 4-1 on Saturday night, a day after beating the Saint Mary’s Huskies by the same score.

Despite Acadia dominating play for most of the first period, Moncton struck first when Aigles Bleus forward, Carl Marois (Montmagany, Que.), fired the puck into a wide-open net. Axemen goalie, Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.), got caught up with one of his teammates, taking him out of the play and allowing Marois an open cage to bury the puck.

By periods end, Moncton held onto a 1-0 lead, despite trailing 10-7 in shots on net.

Acadia had a strong showing in the second, scoring three unanswered on Moncton. To tie the game, second-year Axemen forward, Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, Ont.) finished a 2-on-1 passing play with Sam Fioretti (Calgary, Alta.), by deking out Moncton goaltender, Brandon Thibeau (Moncton, N.B.), and sliding the puck in on his backhand. Read more ›

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Acadia down Saint Mary’s 4-1

Four unanswered 3rd period goals seal victory

The Acadia Axemen kicked off the second half of the AUS men’s hockey season on a snowy night in Halifax as they faced the Saint Mary’s Huskies at the historic Halifax Forum. It took two periods for the Axemen (13-6-1)  to shed the holiday rust, but by the third period, they looked like a well-oiled machine, scoring four unanswered goals on route to a 4-1 victory over the Huskies (9-10-1).

Between the pipes, the Axemen started Robert Steeves who ended the first half strong in goal with 5 wins, while Saint Mary’s countered with Cole Cheveldave.

SMU had a chance to shake off the holiday break already as they had opened their second half with a game on Wednesday night and it showed in the first period as they carried an edge in play in the opening period. This led to a goal on the powerplay from the newest Huskie, Aaron Berisha at 10:49 of the opening period. Berisha, playing in just his second game after committing to Saint Mary’s over the break. Calder Brooks and Hunter Garlent picked up the helpers on the goal. Shots after the first period were 7-4 in favor of Saint Mary’s.

The second period was a tight affair that saw three powerplays for each team, but neither side could capitalize and the teams went to the 2nd intermission with the same 1-0 score. Shots on goal were 8-6 in favor of Acadia in the 2nd period.

The Axemen started the third period on the man advantage and were able to get on the scoreboard as Daniel Pettersson ripped home a booming slap shot 56 seconds into the frame to tie the game. Boston Leier and Geoff Schemitsch picked up the assists.

Midway through the period, Axemen defenseman Matt Pufahl was able to intercept a clearing attempt from the Huskies, keeping the puck on side by the narrowest of margins, before carrying the puck towards the SMU net and dishing it off to Taylor Makin who one timed the puck past Cheveldave to give the visitors the lead. Read more ›

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Reflecting on the Axemen First Half

Coach Burns prepped for stretch run

Welcome to 2017! We’re looking forward to a terrific 2nd half of the AUS Men’s Hockey season. The Axemen resume regular season AUS play on Friday night as they take on the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, and then host the U de M Aigles Bleus on Saturday night in Wolfville.

But before we look ahead, we need to reflect on the first half, where the Axemen finished in 2nd place, in the always competitive AUS conference, with an 11-6-1 record in 18 games.

Acadia hit the ice this season with some major changes in their lineup from the 2015-16 season; gone was perennial scoring leader Mike Cazzola, high scoring threat Zach Franko, & key two way players Dylan Anderson and Travis Randell.

The Axemen had a strong recruiting off-season, adding major size to their lineup with 6’6 defenseman Marc McNulty and 6’4 Alex Lepkowski. Up front 6’5 Nick Betz arrived in Wolfville following a camp invite to the New York Rangers camp, along with 6’3 Stephen Harper who attended the Ottawa Senators main camp. Also added to the lineup were former captain of the STU Tommies Brendan Childerley, Kris Hodge, and Chris Clark.

One of the major recruits was netminder Devin Williams, who starred with the Erie Otters of the OHL with a 41-10-1 record and a 2.36 GAA in 2015-16.

The Axemen struggled out of the gate going 5-5 in their first 10 games, before going 6-2 in their final 8. The early struggles were a team trying to gel, while being hampered by injuries. The biggest struggle of the first half came on the power play where for the first dozen games, the team could not find a way to score with the man advantage. The jinx seems to have been broken and now have edged the pp % to 12.5% after 18 games.

Acadia ended the first half with a 7-1 record on home ice at the Andrew H. McCain Arena, but struggled with a 4-6 record on the road.

Axemen head coach Darren Burns reflected on the first half saying, “I was happy with our recovery from a slow start in the first half. However, the first half is a thing of the past. The reality of our league, especially with only 12 games in the second half, is the teams that kept in shape and are focused, will be successful. Playoffs will begin before you know it and you don’t have as much time to create and maintain structure and work habits.”

Read more ›

Posted in Team Stories

Schemitsch named to U Sports All-star squad

Set to faceoff against Team Canada Jr hopefuls


TORONTO (U Sports) –U Sports unveiled Monday its roster for a two-game exhibition series between the U Sports men’s hockey all-stars and Canada’s National Junior Team prospects. Acadia’s Geoff Schemitsch will join the U Sports all-star squad. Last season, Axeman Matthew Pufahl was named to the team.

The two-game set, which was announced last month, will take place at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau, home of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. ET and Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. ET as part of the National Junior Team’s preparation for the 41st IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal (Dec. 26 – Jan. 5).

The 23-player U Sports lineup – all but one with CHL experience – is comprised of 11 standouts from the OUA conference and six apiece from the AUS and Canada West leagues. Twelve of the 23 players have represented U Sports against the World Junior hopefuls in the past, including 11 returnees from last year’s inaugural national all-star squad which split the two-game series, winning the first game 5-4 in a shootout. The OUA contingent will look to make their case for a spot on the 2017 Winter Universiade roster, with head coach Brett Gibson also serving as the FISU Games bench boss.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for these 23 U Sports athletes from across the country to showcase how great of a product we have,” said Gibson. “It also comes with a great responsibility to be a small part of the preparation for our Canadian under-20 team in their quest for a gold medal.”
Protecting the U Sports net in Boisbriand will be goaltenders Kevin Bailie from Queen’s, Corbin Boes from Dalhousie and Jordon Cooke from Saskatchewan, who all suited up in last year’s event. Read more ›

Posted in Team Stories

Four powerplay goals lead to 5-2 UNB win

Axemen sit in 2nd in AUS at Holiday Break


(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds scored four power-play goals in a 5-2 win over the visiting Acadia Axemen, in the 25th edition of UNB’s Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game.

Philippe Maillet(Terrebonne, QC) scored twice and assisted on two other goals to lead UNB.

In a pre-game ceremony, Maillet was named the recipient of the annual Mark Jeffrey Scholarship.

Jordan Murray(Riverview, NB) also had a four-point night for the Varsity Reds, recording four assists.

“They’re a tough team to play against,” said Murray, of the Axemen. “They have big “D”, they play physical, they want to take our skill away, make us take stupid penalties, but we came out on top tonight.”

Matt Murphy(Fredericton, NB), Rob Mignardi(Richmond Hill, ON), and Chris Clapperton(Cap Espoir, QC) also scored for the home team.

Geoff Schemitsch(Thornhill, ON) scored both goals for the Axemen.

Acadia opened the scoring at 2:09 of the first period, when Schemitsch beat Alex Dubeau(Mascouche, QC).

Murphy evened the score, with his first goal of the season and first as a Varsity Red, at 10:05.  Read more ›

Posted in Game Recaps

Overtime shootout win vs UPEI extends streak to four

Thompson with 3 points in the Acadia Win


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Panthers struggles continued Friday night as they let a late lead slip against the Acadia Axemen who came out on top 5-4 in a shootout.

The comeback looked complete when the Panthers (5-9-3) stormed in front of their opponent with three third period goals. However, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, Axeman Stephen Harper tied it at four, sending the match into overtime.

“That says a lot about our team,” said Brett Thompson, who assisted on the game-tying goal and recorded a game-high three points (one goal, two assists). “They got us on our heels and they were giving it to us, but we showed a lot of character and answered back right away.”

Despite surrendering a third period lead, Axemen head coach Darren Burns credited his team’s no-quit attitude.

“To get scored on three times in the third and then come back and win is great,” Burns said. “I’m extremely proud of this team.”

With Friday’s win, Burns’ squad improved to 11-5-1, while extending their win streak to four games.

Aiming to get back in the win column, the Panthers controlled the pace from the opening puck drop. Only three minutes into the game, Marcus Power fired a cross-ice pass to Brent Andrews who flew in from the slot and redirected it for the quick 1-0 lead.

Momentum shifted Acadia’s way near the end of the period when they scored twice in just three minutes. Acadia capitalized on a Panthers miscue at 16:33 when Tyler Ferry got hold of a blind clearing attempt and scored the game-tying goal, his first of the season.

With seconds remaining in the period, Matthew Pufahl added to the lead with a power play marker.  Read more ›

Posted in Game Recaps

Axemen top Panthers in 5-2 win

Leier & Harper with two goals each


WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The UPEI Panthers (5-9-2) were unable to snap their five game skid, extending their losing streak to six, with a 5-2 loss to the Acadia Axemen (10-5-1) on Saturday night in Wolfville. The Axemen continued their winning ways, having now picked up nine of their last ten possible points.

Acadia jumped out to a 1-0 lead, early in the first, when rookie forward, Stephen Harper (Burlington, Ont.), fired one past UPEI goaltender, Matt Mahalak (Monrow, Michigan). Harper scored on a nice feed from Brett Thompson (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.), who picked up the puck in the corner, before passing it to Harper to make it 1-0 for the Axemen.

UPEI answered at the tail end of the opening period on the power play, when second year forward Sam Aulie (Lumsden, Sask.) sped in and danced around the Axemen defense, before sniping the top right corner of the net past Axemen goalie Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.).

Acadia led 12-8 in shots at the end of the first, with the teams in a 1-1 deadlock.

Harper continued to dominate in the second, scoring on the power-play, with a one-timer on a pass from fellow rookie, Alex Lepkowski (Buffalo, New York), who also had a secondary assist on Harper’s first goal.

Acadia struck again, with a passing play entering the offensive zone, with fourth-year forward Tyler Makin (Lethbridge, Alta.) sliding a cross-ice pass to third-year forward Boston Leier (Saskatoon, Sask.), who buried the puck past a sprawling Panthers goaltender, putting the Axemen up 3-1.

Heading into the third period, the Axemen were leading 24-16 in shots and held a 3-1 lead.

A scrappy third period saw Boston Leier add his second of the night, with a beautiful shorthanded marker. Leier blew past the UPEI defenders and waited out Mahalak and lofted the puck over the UPEI goalie’s left pad. Read more ›

Posted in Game Recaps

Axemen hand No. 1 ranked UNB first loss of season

Steeves Stars in Goal for Acadia


WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The Acadia Axemen (9-5-1) defeated the first place UNB Varsity Reds (12-1-2) 2-1, handing the V-Reds their first regulation loss of the season and snapping their eight-game winning streak. Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.) had a stellar game, giving Acadia a win against the U Sports No. 1 ranked team in the country.

Acadia struck first in a fast paced first period. Fourth year defenseman Geoff Schemitsch (Thornhill, Ont.) took a slap shot from the point that was redirected by forward Michael Clarke (Halifax, N.S), to put the Axemen up 1-0 on the power-play.

UNB responded roughly six minutes later, at the beginning of a four-minute penalty kill, when fifth year V-Reds forward, Rob Mignardi (Richmond Hill, Ont.), sped past the defenseman and ripped a low wrist shot past Axemen goaltender, Robert Steeves.

By periods end, UNB led in shots, 11-9, with the game tied at 1-1 and the Axemen carrying a power-play over into the second. Read more ›

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Axemen topple Tigers 5-2

Pufahl & Harper chip in with 3 assists a piece

The Axemen travelled to Halifax on Friday night to face the surprising team of the first half in the AUS, the Dalhousie Tigers. Although Acadia had won the previous two games with the Tigers this season, the Tigers came in to play just 2 points back of the Axemen. Acadia’s lineup was decimated by injuries, with starting netminder Devin Williams out, and top forwards Kyle Farrell, Nick Betz, and Chance Braid all injured. But the Axemen didn’t use that as an excuse, as they toppled Dalhousie by a 5-2 score at the old Halifax Forum.

For the first time this season, the Axemen powerplay was the reason for the victory, converting on 3 of 8 chances. The man advantage has been a major speed bump this year coming in to play on Friday with just a 6% conversion rate, worst in the AUS.

The Axemen came out flying, scoring off the opening faceoff on their first shot as Boston Leier converted a cross crease pass from Matthew Pufahl just 11 seconds into the game to give Acadia the early 1-0 lead.  That score stuck until late in the period when the Axemen doubled their lead while on the powerplay, as Marc McNalty parked himself in front of the Dal net and put a rebound past the Dal netminder Corbin Boes. Just over 2 minutes later, the Axemen appeared to take a firm hold on the game when Stephen Harper found Michael Clarke at the left circle. Clarke ripped a perfect shot over the shoulder of the Dal netminder to make it 3-0 with just 35 seconds to play in the opening period. But the Tigers responded quickly as Felix Page showed great skill and patience as he dangled around Axemen netminder Robert Steeves to get his team on the board just 23 seconds later, and sent the teams to the intermission with a 3-1 score.

Dalhousie fed off that late first period goal by scoring just 1:24 into the second period, cutting the Acadia lead to just one goal, as Page again found the back of the net. The teams headed to the dressing rooms with the score 3-2 for Acadia.

The Axemen found their stride in the third period with the man advantage as Daniel Pettersson unloaded a slap shot from the point, with a nice screen in front of the net, compliments of Sam Fioretti to give Acadia a two goal lead. Midway through the period, again on the powerplay, Remy Giftopoulos walked into the high slot and snapped a shot past Boes to seal the win for Acadia 5-2.

Acadia fired 40 shots at the Dal net, while Robert Steeves turned aside 23 of 25 shots he faced. Matt Pufahl and Stephen Harper each had 3 assists on the night, while Boston Leier and Michael Clarke each had a goal and an assist.

With the win, Acadia advanced to 8-5-1, while Dalhousie fell to 5-6-3. The Axemen have Saturday night off, as they head home to prepare to host the AUS #1 team, the UNB Varsity Reds next Friday and the UPEI Panthers on Saturday.

Posted in Game Recaps