Burns confirms new Axemen hockey recruits
BY JOHN DECOSTE
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Acadia hockey head coach Darren Burns confirmed earlier this month he has commitments for next season and beyond from four new recruits, including a goaltender.
Burns has nine departing players to replace, including both of last season’s goalies: Kristofer Westblom, who will attend the Philadelphia Flyers’ conditioning camp, and Michael Chiasson.
Burns says he feels he has one of his goalies of the future confirmed in Evan Mosher, a native of Conception Bay, Newfoundland, who was a second-team QMJHL all-star this past season with the P.E.I. Rocket. “We’ve had such strong goaltending the past three or four years, and we feel Evan will help maintain that tradition.
“He’s an excellent goalie – a great kid, really focused and with great leadership abilities,” Burns says of Mosher, who attended the Montreal Canadiens rookie camp earlier this year.
Burns adds he has a commitment from a second goaltender, but is hesitant to name him as some details need to still be worked out surrounding his admission to Acadia.
The Axemen coach recruited heavily for the Acadia defence a year ago- adding Michael Ward, Cullen Morin, Leo Jenner and Chris Owens- and says he feels Acadia in pretty good shape, but would like to add at least one defenceman.
Up front, the Axemen had such stalwarts and team leaders as Philippe Bertrand, Chris Bruton and Scott Tregunna depart, as well as role players Zack McMillan, Jamie Klie and Adam McIlwraith.
Burns confirmed he has commitments from “three forwards so far,” including Liam Heelis, a power forward from OHL-champion Owen Sound.
Burns describes Heelis as “a gritty, tough, old-school style power forward” who will hopefully have an upside as a scorer as well. “He’s a good two-way skater, tough and hard-nosed and skilled as well.
“Our focus this year, given the good core of skilled players we have returning, was to add scoring and toughness. Hopefully, Liam will be exactly what we need.”
Alex Beaton, a Lower Sackville native, finished up last season with Woodstock of the MJAHL; prior to that, he played three years of major junior with the Lewiston Maineacs.
“We see Alex as a guy who has a good solid touch around the net, and might surprise some people as a goal scorer,” Burns said.
John Girman is an Ontario native who played last season with Grande Prairie of the Alberta Junior A league. A 6’1”, 215-pound power forward, Girman projects as “a solid skater who will be able to win the battles in the corners. He has good leadership skills, and gives us some much-needed size up front.”
Given that he has nine roster spots to fill, Burns acknowledged, “we’re still waiting to hear on a few more recruits – at least one defenceman, and two or three more forwards.
“The bottom line is, we won’t recruit players just for the sake of filling up our roster. We’re looking for people who will make our team better.”
Burns is aware bringing in players “who already have courses coming in,” he runs the risk of having them leave early as both Bruton and Westblom did.
At the same time, “we stress strong academics,” he adds, “and we go after guys who we know are going to be successful” as students and as athletes. “We won’t always have them for as long, but it all evens out.”