Plenty of reason for optimism
Normally when a U Sports hockey team brings in 12 new players, it’s called a rebuilding year… for the Acadia Axemen, 2018-19 is a year filled with optimism and high expectations. With an A+ recruiting year, the team feels they have every opportunity to make a march right back to the University Cup tournament this season, in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The players that graduated and moved on from the program were not only statistical leaders, but team leaders as well, and will be tough to replace. Gone from last year’s lineup is top scorers Boston Leier, Sam Fioretti, Remy Giftopoulos, Michael Clarke; along with the gritty play of Taylor Makin, Chance Braid, & Kris Hodge.
On the backend, all-stars Geoffrey Schemitsch & Matt Pufahl are gone, along with stalwart defenders Tyler Ferry & Stephen Woodworth. Starting goalie Robert Steeves also graduated from the program.
That’s a ton of scoring, heart, and experience gone. But cue the recruits.
Jackson Houck, who red shirted last year is now eligible to suit up and will be relied on to be an offensive threat every night for Acadia. Houck is a fourth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers and won an ECHL championship before joining Acadia last year.
Winger Maurizia Colella had a knack for putting the puck in the net for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and will be relied on to do the same in the AUS. Niagara Ice Dogs alum Johnny Corneil, a two way centreman will give the Axemen stability and offense down the middle with Kyle Farrell, Rodney Southam and Owen MacDonald.
Acadia will rely on a hard nosed, strong work ethic shift by shift from forwards Jack Flaman and former Saint John Sea Dog Cole Reginato. Look for both players to chip in with some offensive punch as both players find a way to be in the right place at the right time.
On the backend, star recruit Garrett McFadden will be expected to play a big part for the defense corps. After finishing his OHL career last season he went on to play a handful of AHL games and has attended the Vancouver Canucks training camp this September. While TJ Fergus, Ross MacDougall, and Loch Morrison will be relied on for their puck moving and quick feet. Fergus is a very good offensive defenseman who will work the powerplay. MacDougall is also an offensive threat and a great skater, with a high hockey IQ. Morrison is a stay at home defender who consistently makes a great first pass out of his zone.
In goal, the Axemen added WHL stud netminder Logan Flodell. He is expected to be a top tier goalie in the AUS this season, and has the ability to keep his team in each and every game.
The Axemen welcome back newly named captain Liam Maaskant and assistant captain Alex Lepkowski on defense, along with second year rearguard Michael Zipp.
Up front, offensive dynamos Stephen Harper and assistant captain Kyle Farrell will be counted on heavily on the scoreboard. Ryan Foss had a breakout rookie season last year playing with Farrell and Harper and the Axemen will look to him to continue his hot hand. Rodney Southam and Cristiano DiGiacinto had strong first seasons with the Axemen and will be looked to for secondary scoring this season.
Own MacDonald faced injuries issues last year, but will look to become an impact player this season, along with Jack McClelland and Marc McNulty giving the Axemen depth up front.
Dawson Carty will backup Flodell this season; Carty played well when called upon last season and will look to improve on his numbers with last years experience under his belt.
The Axemen kick off their regular season on Wednesday, September 26th on the road in Halifax as they face the Dalhousie Tigers before hosting the StFX X-Men on Friday night in Wolfville. Acadia heads to the United States over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend to face NCAA division 1 opponents in exhibition play.