Axemen First Half Questions Answered – The Big Three

AC Celebration AC Liam HeelisWe’ve looked at the Axemen defence & and the goaltending so far in this five part series, and now it’s time to look at the third question. Question #3 going into this season, regarding this year’s Acadia Axemen team from AUS enthusiasts was whether or not the big line could repeat on their production of a year ago?

Last season, Mike Cazzola, Liam Heelis, and Brett Thompson were all but unstoppable, they put up big numbers and controlled games. Cazzola and Heelis tied at the top of AUS league scoring with 42 points each, with Heelis being awarded the top spot after scoring 24 goals in 26 games. Heelis was also named CIS Hockey’s most valuable player. Brett Thompson, the third member of the big line finished 8th in AUS scoring with 33 points in 27 games. This scoring machine led the Axemen to a 21-7 regular season record and an AUS title, leading to a trip to the CIS University Cup.

Going into this season, the question was can they do it again? Well, let’s look at the AUS leaders after 16 games at the exam/holiday break. The big three sit 1, 2, and 4 in league scoring, with Heelis sitting 4th with 20 points, Cazzola 2nd with 23, and Brett Thompson with a league best 24 points, along with being tied for tops in the AUS with 12 goals; Thompson’s 12 goals tie his CIS career high from last year for goals in a season.

The top three have fought through some adversity, after piling up points and going 7-1 in the first 8 games of the season, the Axemen suffered two straight home losses, scoring only two goals in those two losses. After which the coaching staff decided to juggle the lines to produce a more balanced attack and make it tougher for teams to to line match against them. The result was splitting up the big three & we’ve seen a few different combinations, but lately it’s been Thompson & Cazzola playing with 4th year forward Alex Beaton, and Liam Heelis lining up with 1st year forwards Zach Franko and Remy Giftopoulos. The results have the team going 5-0-1, and the big three still putting up big offensive numbers.

If Heelis, Cazzola, and Thompson can continue their production in the 12 game second half, they have an outside chance of having three Axemen hit the 40 point plateau in the 28 game season, which would be an impressive feat.

So far, they’ve answered the bell and the big three are producing; whether they play the second half together on the same line or on separate lines, having each produce on the scoreboard is something the Axemen will lean on, along with their veteran leadership, in the second half in order to finish on top of the AUS.

Question answered.

Story submitted by Chris Richards