2013 AUS MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM PREVIEW: Acadia Axemen
story courtesy of atlanticuniversitysport.com on October 17, 2013
(WOLFVILLE, N.S) – The Acadia Axemen enter the 2013-14 regular season looking to improve on their third place finish last year in the competitive AUS men’s hockey conference.
The Axemen opened the 2012-13 season with four consecutive wins and by the holiday break they had accumulated an impressive record of 12-3-1.
The squad spent 14 of 18 weeks ranked in the CIS Top Ten, and found themselves as high as No. 2 in mid-November and at the holiday break.
After wrapping up the second half of the regular season with a 5-6-1 record, the Axemen finished three points out of second place in the AUS and were seeded third heading into the post-season.
Acadia lost the opening game of the AUS quarterfinals by a score of 7-5 loss to the Moncton Aigles Bleus, but rebounded with back-to-back wins to take the opening series.
The Axemen won their third straight playoff game with an exciting 3-2 overtime win over Saint Mary’s in Halifax, but the second-seeded Huskies would win the next three contests, including two one-goal victories, to take the series 3-1.
The Axemen lose senior forwards Andrew Clark (former CIS player of the year) and Jonathan Laberge (former AUS rookie of the year) this season, but have a solid group of returning players to rely on.
High-scoring defenceman Chris Owens is back for a fourth season and reigning AUS rookie of the year Mike Cazzola will look to build on his outstanding 29-point freshman season.
Other top scorers from a year ago include forwards Brett Thompson (10-16-26), Liam Heelis (10-12-22) and Dustin Ekelman (9-11-20).
Heelis will wear the “C” this year for the Axemen, with Colin Archer, Cullen Morin and Owens serving as assistants.
Notes: Friday night’s opening game at Acadia Arena will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first regular season game ever played in the facility. The St. Thomas Tommies were the first visiting team to face the Axemen 25 years ago and return this year to participate in the season-opening game once again … All of the Acadia home games this season will be available via live webcast at www.AUStv.ca … Fourth-year defenceman and two-time CIS all-Canadian Christopher Owens enters the 2013-14 season as Acadia’s active leader in career points scored. In three seasons with the Axemen, Owens has scored 73 points (21 goals and 52 assists) in 81 regular season games played … The Acadia all-time career leader in points scored is Greg Clancy, who scored 212 points (87 goals, 125 assists) in four seasons from 1993-94 to 1996-97 … Acadia head coach Darren Burns registered his 150th career regular season victory last year in his 12th year behind the Axemen bench.
2012-13 regular season record: 17-9-2
2012-13 regular season standings: Third place in AUS
2012-13 playoff record: 3-4
2012-13 playoff finish: Defeated Moncton in best-of-three AUS quarter-final (2-1); lost to Saint Mary’s in best-of-five AUS semifinal (3-1).
Quotes from head coach:
“Andrew Clark, former CIS player of the year, will be a hard person to replace along with Jonathan Laberge, who was our leading scorer in past years and a hard working forward.”
“I think the team can build on last season’s ups and downs with the return of several key players including all-star defenseman Chris Owens and AUS rookie of the year Mike Cazzola. We grew as a team last season experiencing what it took to win and working through adversity.”
“We have returned the majority of our defensive unit including leading defensive scorer Chris Owens along with veterans Cullen Morin and Leo Jenner.”
Head Coach: Darren Burns
– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2013-14): 13th
– Career regular season record with team: 166-158-12
– Career regular season record in CIS: 166-158-12
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 185-182-12
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 185-182-12
Total number of returning players: 18
Key returning players:
D – Chris Owens: Defenseman Chris Owens returns for his fourth season. Chris was named a first team AUS all-star in each of the previous two seasons. He is also a two-time CIS all-Canadian, having been named to the second team 2012-13 and the first team in 2011-12. Owens was the top scoring defenseman on the team last year with 8 goals and 20 assists, finishing second in the AUS among blue-liners.
F – Mike Cazzola: Cazzola was honoured as the AUS rookie of the year last season and was also named to the CIS all-rookie team. Mike finished with 29 points (11 goals and 18 assists) in his freshman season, good enough for sixth overall in AUS scoring.
F – Liam Heelis: Liam finished last season with 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points. Heelis’ leadership was priceless in his second season and was recently named captain in his third season with the Axemen.
F – Brett Thompson: Brett was named the AUS all-rookie team last year and was fourth on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in his first season.
Key recruits or transfers:
D – Geoffrey Schemitsch: A 6-foot-2 native of Thornhill, Ont., this former Oshawa General (OHL), was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is a highly skilled player and an excellent puck moving defenceman.
D – Chris Buonomo: This Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native is a “stay-at-home”, 6-foot0, 190-pound defenceman who will add some grit and size to the Axemen’s lineup. Buonomo sees the ice very well and makes a great first pass.
D / F – Tyler Ferry: Tyler is listed as a defenceman but will play forward for the Axemen. The ultimate “role player” for the London Knights (OHL) last season, Axemen head coach Darren Burns feels he can play a more offensive role with Acadia.
F – Scott Trask: Trask, a St. John’s, Nfld. native, will add some size at left wing with a 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. He spent three seasons with the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats including a 2009-10 league championship before landing in Summerside in 2012-13. Trask’s excellent work ethic and gritty style will help him create an immediate impact in the Acadia lineup.
F – Taylor Makin: From Lethbridge, Alta., Taylor is a two-way forward who spent one season with the Bandits after time in the WHL with Prince George and the Vancouver Giants. He possesses an excellent physical presence and will give the Axemen some added physical play and toughness up front.
F – Michael Clarke: Michael is a Halifax, N.S. native who spent his last two seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, posting 19 goals and 19 assists in 2012-13. Clarke will be looked upon to boost the team’s scoring as a gritty 6-foot-2 winger who brings size to the forward position.
G – Brandon Glover: Glover spent five seasons in the WHL – two seasons with Moosejaw, two with Calgary and his last with the Seattle Thunderbirds. In his senior year with Seattle, he anchored with team with a 3.69 goals against average with 1633 saves in 59 games, an average of 28 saves per game.
F – Andrew Clark: Was named the CIS and AUS player of the year in 2011-12 and has been the Axemen’s leading scorer for the last three seasons.
F – Jonathan Laberge: Was named the AUS rookie of the year in 2008-09. During his five seasons, Laberge was one of Acadia’s top five scorers and led the team in scoring in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Source: Acadia Sport Information