Acadia netminder continues to rehab injured knee

On November 4th of this past season, 1st year Axemen goaltender Brayden Peters, was off to an impressive start to the season, playing in his 5th regular season game, after going 2 and 2 in his first 4 games of the season, when one play changed his trajectory for the year. The Axemen were hosting the Dalhousie Tigers in Wolfville, when midway through the 2nd period, Peters made a highlight reel save, but tore his ACL and fractured his tibilar plateau in his left knee on the play.

Peters, a Business Administration major, described the moment saying, “It was a bit of a scramble in front of the net when the puck went to an open player back door. I slid to my left and extended my leg straight to try to get over in time, but I caught the heel of my skate on the post and didn’t slip off either in front of the post or into the net like it normally does. My body continued overtop of my knee and I felt a big pop behind my kneecap and had a wave of pain rush into my knee. It was just an unlucky injury, I probably did the same play 10+ times in practice, but this time my leg didn’t slip off the post and led to the injury.”

Prior to attending Acadia, Brayden had an impressive junior career in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen going 64-58-9 in 138 regular season games over 5 years and took part in the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche prospect camp last September.

Due to the seriousness of the injury, surgery was necessary on February 8th in Yarmouth. He said, “The surgery went really good. I had my mom fly out from Alberta to help for the first week of recovery. So far, the ACL graft has been feeling really good and progressing on schedule. Now it’s a bit of a waiting game until the graft is able to fuse properly. The main thing for me now is to make sure I stay focused on my rehab timeline and make sure I don’t push it too far and cause any setbacks.”

It is a long road to recovery for the Axemen netminder, saying, “the first three months of rehab were mainly focused on retraining my left leg to get all my range of motion and balance back. Over the summer it will mainly be focused on jogging and running again and getting used to putting force into my knee again. So hopefully, by the time we come back together as a team I will be able to get on the ice and skate around, at that time we’ll be able to judge more accurately when I can get back in the net and join team practices. But my return date is still up in the air. Generally, it will be between 10-12 months of recovery post-surgery.”

Acadia Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns has nothing but praise for his netminder and his determination to return to action, saying “You hate to see any kid go through an injury and the process of getting back to playing like Petey has had to do. First things first, he is an incredible human and his attitude through all this has been outstanding. He is an excellent role model of team first and perseverance.

Our team will benefit from having first year players come in and see his dedication to the game. He’s an outstanding goalie who will no doubt play a huge role in the success of our program. His passion for making this team better through recruiting other players here and his day-to-day approach creates positive energy in our building.”


Despite the injury, the Taber, Alberta native has been happy with his time in the Valley, saying, “My experience here in Wolfville has been amazing. Everyone in the community and at the school have been incredibly welcoming and really made my adjustment moving out here from Alberta as easy as possible. It’s been a year of new and unexpected challenges, but I’m happy I’ve been able to experience it and grow from it out here.”


Peters concluded saying, “I just want to say thank you to the Axemen fans for all your support for both myself and for the team. It was awesome getting to talk to a bunch of you in the stands after I got injured and the support from everyone was amazing. I’m excited to see all of you at the rink again next year and excited to see what we can accomplish as a team.”

Story by Chris Richards

Axemen add top Goaltender from the MHL to program

Photo by Percy Picard

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome, from Moncton, New Brunswick, goaltender Nicholas Sheehan, to the hockey program. Sheehan, is a 6’0”, left handed catching netminder, who starred for the Edmundston Blizzard of the Maritime Junior Hockey League this past season.

We asked Sheehan what made him choose Acadia, and he said, “First of all it is a great honour to have the chance to become an Axemen and attend Acadia. I have heard nothing but great things about the program and the University, which is why it felt like a no-brainer to spend the next chapter of my life in Wolfville. With the hockey program being such a first-class program and so well recognized around USports. I am truly honoured to become an Axemen and can’t wait to get started.”

In 2020-21, in the pandemic shortened QMJHL season, Nicholas played in 3 games with the Moncton Wildcats. In 2021-22, he started the season in Edmundston with the Blizzard of the MHL for 11 games where he had a 2.38 GAA and a .920 save percentage and 2 shutouts to go along with a 7-3-0 record, before being called up to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on the QMJHL where he would play in 22 games, going 10-8-4. In 2022-23 he played the entire season with the Armada, in 28 games he posted a .893 save %, a 3.54 GAA and a 6-12-3 record.

For his overage season, he returned to the the Edmundston Blizzard where he sparkled, being named the 2023-24 MHL Goaltender of the Year. Among the many categories Sheehan led this season were games played (40), wins (30), goals against average (2.29), minutes played (2,383), saves (1,135), save percentage (.926), shutouts (5), and shootout wins (3). Overall, he posted a 30-9-1-0 record for the Blizzard.

Sheehan will join a talented group of netminders, led by AUS 1st team All-Star and All-Rookie team member Thomas Couture, along with Brayden Peters who had off-season surgery and is expected to be rehabbing for majority of the season, and Jett Miller. Acadia’s depth in net was important last season as they were forced to dress 4 different goalies throughout the season due to injuries.

Acadia head coach Darren Burns likes the depth with adding Sheehan, saying, “We are very excited to be bringing Nic to Acadia. He is a very positive kid, who loves playing the game and exudes the confidence to get better. We are very familiar with him following his junior career with Blainville and Edmundston. He comes highly recommended as a person, and in consulting with goalie coaches who have worked with him in his past, we are confident he will adjust well to this league. He will also benefit from the leadership and focus of Thomas Couture. The mentorship and example he can provide will help Nic and provide strength for us in the crease this coming season.”

As for Nicholas, he says, “the Axeman fans can expect to see me as a goalie who works hard every time he steps on the ice, competes for every puck, will never give up on trying to keep it out of the net, and a guy who hates to lose. I would describe myself as a composed goalie in net, with quick feet, and the ability to play the puck well.”

Sheehan joins defenceman Conor Shortall as newly announced commitments for the Axemen. Stay tuned for more updates! #GoAcadiaGo

Story by Chris Richards

Cape Breton Eagles defenceman will suit up with Axemen in the fall

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome defenceman Conor Shortall to the hockey program.

The St. John’s, Newfoundland born defenceman has played his junior career in the QMJHL, starting out in 2020-21 with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, before joining the Cape Breton Eagles for the last 3 seasons.  This season, the defensive blueliner has 9 points in 65 games, and in 231 regular season QMJHL games over his career, the 5’9” defenceman has 59 points and 147 penalty minutes.

We asked Conor, why he chose Acadia for hockey and schooling, he said, “For many years I had thought that attending Acadia University and playing hockey as an Axemen would be an awesome, life changing experience and opportunity for me. Growing up in Newfoundland and playing hockey within the province, many kids have a dream of playing in the QMJHL and then being recruited by a university within Atlantic Canada. Fortunately, that path has led me to Acadia and the Axemen hockey program. I have played with and against some of the existing players at Acadia and every single one of them talked about how much they have been enjoying their experience and how great both the university and the hockey program are.

I am not overly familiar with Wolfville myself, but my mother played university soccer and volleyball for Memorial University in Newfoundland, and she has told me numerous times what a great campus and close-knit community is offered by Acadia and the Wolfville area. Additionally, when pursuing the next step in my hockey and education journey, it was important for me to be a little closer to home and Wolfville’s easy access offers that as well. However, the final decision came down to the comfort that I felt with head coach Darren Burns and some of the other coaching staff. In a number of conversations, it became apparent to me that there was a special place for me here with the Axemen and Darren really seemed to know the player that I am and what I can offer and contribute and that was important to me. I truly have already felt welcomed into the program and I have not even stepped onto the ice yet.”

Shortall was an assistant captain with the Eagles this season, and brings a physical presence to the Axemen blueline. With the Axemen graduating physical rearguards Morgan Nauss and Hudson Wilson, Shortall will look to help fill that void in the lineup.

Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns is excited about the addition of Shortall saying, “Conor is a very energetic and gritty defenceman. He keeps his game simple and plays hard every shift. His physical approach to the game makes opponents aware when he’s on the ice. He is an extremely well liked and respected teammate.”

As for Conor, he describes his game this way “I think and hope the Axemen fans are going to like my style of play and they can expect to see a physical, defensive defenceman, but also someone that has some offensive potential given the right situation. Over the last 3 years playing for the Cape Breton Eagles, it seemed that the fan base there enjoyed what I offered, and I am confident the Axemen fans will as well. I feel honored to play university hockey and certainly take nothing for granted, and that shows on the ice every game. I have been described by some people as a guy that never takes a night off and works hard every shift, every minute that I get to play. I honestly believe and feel that I must earn the respect of the coaches and fans and therefore I will always work hard to ensure and gain that respect. Additionally, I am very much a team focused player, always put the team and the success of the team ahead of my own individual success. I believe I can bring some positive energy and I take pride in parts of the game that may not always get noticed by some, like killing penalties, blocking shots, and playing in the key situations when the game is on the line. I love the roar of a packed arena and I cannot wait to get started this coming season.”

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more news on the Acadia for the 2024-25 season. #GoAcadiaGo

Story by Chris Richards

Tickets go on sale today at noon for the event on June 13th 

The Acadia Axemen hockey program is proud to announce Doug Gilmour as this year’s featured guest at the 23rd edition of the Acadia Hockey Celebrity Dinner. This year’s dinner takes place on Thursday, June 13th at the Andrew H. McCain Arena in Wolfville, and tickets are now available for individual tickets, half table, and full table purchases at the Acadia Box Office or online at

Gilmour joins a long list of hockey greats to have taken the stage at the Celebrity Dinner, including the likes of Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Darryl Sittler, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Marcel Dionne, Denis Potvin, Brian Trottier, and most recently Guy Carbonneau, at last year’s event.

The event includes a buffet dinner, a large silent auction with something of interest for everyone, including plenty of hockey memorabilia, a celebration of Annapolis Valley hockey, and a chance to meet the hockey greats.

This year’s featured guest is a Memorial Cup Winner in 1981 with the Cornwall Royals, a Stanley Cup Winner in 1989 with the Calgary Flames, a Selke Trophy award winner with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993, and a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2011. He was also a member of the 1987 Canada Cup winning team, famous for their thrilling victory over Russia in the best on best tournament.

Likely best known for his time as a Toronto Maple Leaf, “Killer”, as he was nicknamed, led the Leafs to within one game of the Stanley Cup finals in 1993, losing to Wayne Gretzky and his LA Kings in game 7 of the conference finals. That season saw Gilmour post 127 points for the Maple Leafs, followed by an 111 point campaign in 1993-94.

Gilmour would score 1414 points in 1474 regular season games in the NHL, and likely even more impressive, in 182 career playoff games, the gritty offensive forward would put up 188 points, to average over a point per game. He would play with 7 teams over his NHL career, including the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, and the Montreal Canadiens.

Stay tuned as we make further announcements in the coming weeks about the Acadia Hockey Celebrity Dinner, and get your tickets today as we prepare to welcome the great Doug Gilmour to the Annapolis Valley!

Plenty to look forward to with off-season events & growth for next season

The Acadia Axemen season came to an end last weekend after a pair of thrilling games against StFX that saw the Axemen come out on the wrong side of both a 3OT game in Antigonish, followed by a 4OT game in Wolfville. A series that could very easily have seen a pair of wins for Acadia to win the series.

As we reflect back on the 2023-24 season, the Acadia fans were treated to a hard-working team that played to the final buzzer every night, with 15 of 30 regular season games being decided by 2 goals or less.

After a challenging first half that saw the team finish with a record of 4-11-3, the Axemen rebounded with a 5-5-2 record in the 2nd half, good for a 9-16-5 record overall, earning the final playoff spot in the AUS conference.

Head Coach Darren Burns is pleased with the direction of the team saying, “We were very proud of how our team competed right through to the end of the season. Clearly, losing in the first round is not the bar we want for our program; however, it was a year where our players had to compete heavily understaffed from day one. We felt they continually worked and emptied their tanks. In the big picture, we feel the pieces are in place for this team to take big steps next year. There were valuable lessons learned and we feel we have the returning core to be able to translate these lessons into success in the standings.”


The team excelled from the crease out, with Thomas Couture and Brayden Peters seeing equal time in net in the first 10 games of the season, before the injury to Peters. Couture picked up the gauntlet and would go on to be a standout throughout the season, being named to the AUS 1st team all-star and All-Rookie team member. On top of his sparkling .915 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average, he made highlight reel saves almost on a nightly basis and gave the Axemen a chance to win every game. The deep Axemen defense core put forward a strong body of work, giving up on average just 2.97 goals against per game on the season.

The Axemen struggles came on offense, where they scored on average 2.33 goals per game. Certainly, a portion of this could be attributed to player injuries as Acadia lost 125-man games due to injuries this season. The injury bug led to the team dressing 4 goalies over the course of the season and for one home game the team was forced to dress 10 defenceman and just 8 forwards, due to injuries up front.

The special teams saw improvement over the previous season; the powerplay was just 11% effective in 2022-23 and improved to 17.9% in 2023-24, and the penalty kill improved from 73.8% in 2022-23 to being 80% effective in 2023-24.

Many of the freshmen, who were seeing their 1st AUS action, stepped-in to play key roles and minutes with the team, including Brady Burns who led the team in scoring with 21 points in 24 games, and Ethan Ernst, who tied Bailey Peach for the team lead in goals with 8. The blueline was bolstered with 1st year players Charlie Desroches, Tyler Deline, and Cam Whynot all playing key minutes, and as mentioned, the crease was in good hands with 1st year star Thomas Couture, and Brayden Peters.

2nd year forwards Bailey Peach and Liam Kidney maintained their consistent offense with 18 and 16 points offensively this season, and Brendan Sellan’s 16 points on the campaign were highlighted by scoring 8 points over an 8-game stretch in the 2nd half of the season.

The Axemen have 4 players graduating from the program in assistant captains Reilly Webb, Nick Deakin-Poot, and Hudson Wilson, as well as team captain Morgan Nauss. The Acadia coaching staff now turns their attention to off-season recruiting for the 2024-25 season, where they will look to replace the size they are losing from the graduating players, while also adding offense to the lineup.

The support from the Valley community continues to be a high point for the hockey program. The support of the fan base, Valley community, alumni, and corporate sponsorships is crucial for the program and very much appreciated.

Coach Burns also expressed his gratitude to the fans and local community saying, “I would also like to thank the businesses, fans, and families who supported our extensive and integral fundraisers this past year. People in this community continually step up, whether it’s fundraising events, partaking in our hockey camps or attending our games. Our increase in attendance at home games this season is not the norm for many sporting teams these days. This loyalty to our hockey team is certainly vital to our team’s success. We do not take it for granted.”

Planning for off-season events such as the Axemen Celebrity Hockey Dinner in June, youth hockey camps throughout the summer, and the Friends of Acadia Hockey Golf Scramble in September are well underway. Stay connected with our social media accounts for more information to be released in the coming weeks on those events.

Couture stops 76 shots in 2nd longest USports Game in History

WOLFVILLE – Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS) scored the game-winning goal on Saturday night in Wolfville to clinch the quarter-final series for the StFX X-Men over the Acadia Axemen in the fourth overtime at Andrew H McCain Arena.  

Smith’s goal gave StFX the 3-2 victory in the second longest game in U SPORTS men’s hockey history.  

The current record is 121:53 of total time, set by UNB and Acadia on Feb. 27, 2011 in Game 2 of their AUS semifinal series in Fredericton. Tonight’s final playing time was 118:19, just under three minutes short of the all-time record.  

Coming in clutch when needed, Smith scored his first of the night, the game-tying goal, to send the game to overtime with just 1:13 remaining in regulation.  

For StFX, it was Clark Webster (Kensington, PE) that opened the scoring in the game, 11:32 into the second period.  

Acadia answered with two goals in the third from Ethan Ernst (Weyburn, SK) at 2:09 and Nick Deakin-Poot (Georgetown, ON) at 10:24 to take a 2-1 lead. 

Thomas Couture (Levis, QC) made 76 saves in the loss for the Axemen, while Joseph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON) made 61 saves in the victory.  

StFX will now play Moncton in the AUS semifinal round, while Saint Mary’s will face UNB. Dates for the next round are still to be announced.  

Axemen freshman goaltender recognized for exceptional regular season

Atlantic University Sport named the men’s hockey All-Star and All-Rookie teams today, and Acadia Axemen freshman goaltender, Thomas Couture has been named to both the All-Rookie Team, as well as a 1st Team All-Star.  The Acadia Axemen hockey program would like to send our congratulations to Thomas on this tremendous achievement.

The Levis, QC native, not only had excellent statistical numbers this season, but also made countless highlight reel and game saving stops for the Axemen throughout the year. He was named AUS and USports male athlete of the week for the first week of January 2024.

With teammate Brayden Peters going down with a season ending injury early in the season, Couture was counted on heavily to shoulder the load in goal for Acadia, seeing action in 24 of 30 regular season games, where he would boast a .915 Save Percentage, good for 3rd best in the AUS, and a 2.76 Goals Against Average, which was 4th best in the conference.

Couture repeats the impressive feat that UNB netminder Samuel Richard achieved last season, earning a spot on both the 1st Team All-Star and All-Rookie Team for the AUS.

He also becomes the 1st Axemen to be named a 1st Team All-Star since fellow goaltender Logan Flodell did so in 2019-20, and the first Acadia member of the All-Rookie Team since defenceman Garrett McFadden got the nod in 2018-19.

Acadia Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns congratulated his goaltender on the announcement saying, “We are very proud of Thomas and his accomplishments this season. For a rookie goaltender to be named a first team all-star is not an easy task. His play this year spearheaded a very strong defensive effort for our team. He played in many low scoring games, which added to the pressure during his season. Playing against national contending teams every night, he was ready to compete night in night out. His personal statistics spoke volumes and his leadership on and off the ice were vital for the program this season. Having him in our lineup bodes very well for the future of this team.”

Prior to joining the Axemen, Couture played in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2022-23, where he was 26-16-3 in 48 regular season games, and the previous season, he captured a Memorial Cup championship with the Saint John SeaDogs, along with current Axemen teammates Brady Burns and Charlie Desroches. After starting the season in Moncton, he went 18-1-1 in the regular season with the SeaDogs with a 1.99 GAA & a .925 save percentage enroute to the MEM Cup.

Couture and the Axemen will look to even up their AUS quarterfinal series at one in a best of 3 series with the StFX X-Men on Saturday night in Wolfville. The Acadia netminder made 57 saves on 61 shots in game 1, including a number of acrobatic stops in the OT sessions, but the X-Men went on to prevail in the 3OT marathon.

Congratulations Thomas!

StFX takes a 1-0 lead in best of 3 series

ANTIGONISH, NS – A Josh Nelson (Lockport, IL) goal 19 seconds into triple overtime gave the STFX X-Men the win over the Acadia Axemen in Game 1 of their AUS quarterfinal series at the Charles V Keating Centre in on Wednesday night.  

Nelson picked up a pass from Charlie Callahan (Toronto, ON) just outside the Acadia zone, skated in and lifted one high from up close with his second goal of the game, earning third star of the game honours along the way.   

It took only 40 seconds into the first period for the home team to open the scoring, with player of the game Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS) tipping home a shot from Matthew Struthers (Milton, ON), off a pass from Matthew Phillip (Ilderton, ON). Smith added his second of the night midway through the period, with Struthers again acting as the set-up man, feeding a wide open Smith at the side of the net after picking up a long pass from Sean Stewart (Antigonish, NS).  

STFX’s defence came up big early on, holding Acadia to only two shots though the first 10 minutes. Shots at the end of the period were 14-6 in favour of STFX as they held the 2-0 lead. 

It was Acadia who came out with some jump in the second period, peppering STFX goalie Joseph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON) early on. The X-Men returned fire though, and an extended 5-3 power play provided some scoring chances, but Acadia goalie Thomas Couture (Levis, QC) kept the door closed.  

Acadia cut the X lead in half with about five minutes left to play in the stanza, with Adam McMaster (Beamsville, ON) firing one home through a screen while on the power play, with assists going to Tyler Deline (Peterborough, ON) and Cam Whynot (Kentville, NS).   

STFX replied two minutes later, as Nelson took a pass from Zack Trott (Mulmur, ON) and rifled a shot top shelf on the short side. Shots at the end of the second were 29-17 in favour of the X-Men as they regained their two-goal lead. 

Acadia drew even with back-to-back goals the third, with Liam Kidney (Enfield, NS) scoring off a two-on-one with Nick Deakin-Poot (Georgetown, ON) with six minutes gone, and Brendan Sellan (Bolton, ON) getting the equalizer 90 seconds later, knocking in a rebound off a point shot from Merrick Rippon (Ottawa, ON), with Hudson Wilson (Toronto, ON) getting the other assist.  

The teams continued to battle for the rest of the period, but neither was able to score before time expired, leading to overtime.      

STFX X-Men had a man advantage with two minutes to go in the first 10-minute overtime frame, but weren’t able to capitalize, and it went to double overtime.  

Both goalies came up big in the second overtime period. Raaymakers kept the X-Men in it as they fought off a four-minute high sticking penalty, while Couture had a number of stellar saves including a cross crease dive with 30 seconds left in the second extra period, to take things to triple overtime and set up the Nelson heroics. 

Couture made 57 saves on the night, earning second star of the game. Raaymakers had 32 saves while picking up the win.  

The best of three series resumes Saturday night, February 17, in Wolfville. Game three, if necessary, is set for Monday, February 19, in Antigonish at 7 p.m. 


Recap courtesy Matt Draper, STFX Athletics