Axemen First Half Questions Answered – Defense

2014-08-11-11-13-12-Chris OwensThe first half of the AUS season is over, actually more than half the games on the season have been played already, as this season due to the National tournament being hosted by the AUS conference, the teams played 16 of the 28 games prior to the Exam/Holiday break, instead of the standard 14. The Axemen finished those 16 games with a 12-3-1 record, tied for 2nd, and one point out of the AUS top spot. Over the next ten days, we’ll look back at the Axemen first half of the season, and the top 5 questions AUS enthusiasts and fans had about this year’s Axemen team, and the outcome thus far in those 5 areas.

The first and arguably most important question was the team’s defense.

As the season began, they had only 1 regular defenseman from last year, Travis Gibbons, in the lineup. With Cullen Morin, Leo Jenner, Colin Archer, and Chris Owens graduating or moving on from last year’s team, and AUS all-rookie team member Geoff Schemitsch projected to be out for most of the first half with an injury. There were many questions about how the Axemen defense would fair, and rightfully so.IMG_0534 - Copy

But the Axemen recruits Dan Poliziani, Stephen Woodworth, and Matt Pufahl have played exceptionally well in their first taste of AUS/CIS action. Still short on the backend, the Axemen moved two players who had played forward last year, in Tyler Ferry and Travis Randell, back to defense; Randell had seen action in 2012-13 as a defenceman for the Axemen. The two didn’t miss a beat on the blueline… at no time are we left thinking that they look like forwards playing defence, instead they looked like naturals on the blueline. 2nd year defenceman Chris Buonomo also saw action in four games in the first half of the season.

The Axemen weathered the storm in the early going and came out with an impressive 7-1 record in the first quarter. Early in the first half, the Axemen received an unexpected boost with the news that Chris Owens would be returning to school at Acadia, and would play for a 5th and final season with the Axemen. A nice addition, adding a former CIS all-star and perennial AUS all-star, who averaged over a point a game over his previous four seasons, to sure things up and add some veteran leadership.

After missing the first 8 games, Schemitsch has returned from injury and given a few games of real game action, he is rounding back into the form that made him one of the best offensive defenseman in the AUS last season. This has allowed the Axemen to move Randell back to the forward position, leaving Ferry back on defence where he has blossomed, playing the penalty kill, rushing the puck, and jumping up in the play to create odd man scoring chances.

Some quick hits & stats about Acadia’s defense:

  • Travis Gibbons is +12, good for third best in the AUS currently.
  • Tyler Ferry is +10, good for 8th in the AUS.
  • Chris Owens continues to produce offensively, with 12 points in 13 games on the season.
  • Travis Gibbons has added some offensive punch from the blueline this season, with 10 pts in 14 games, he is just 3 off his CIS personal season best of 13 in his first season 2011-12, and has already matched his high of 3 goals in a season.
  • First year defenseman Matt Pufahl has 10 points in 16 games, as his comfort level in the league increases, that point average will only rise.

Acadia now has a very solid & healthy defensive core as we move into the second half of the 2014-15 season with Owens, Schemitsch, Gibbons, Pufahl, Ferry, Woodworth, Poliziani, & Buonomo manning the blue line.

Question answered.

Story submitted by Chris Richards