Axemen hockey first half recap

January begins a 12 game sprint to the playoffs

The Acadia Axemen concluded their first half of the season with a 4-11-3 record through their first 18 games. With a short 12 game second half starting January 3rd, each game will be crucial as they look to move up the AUS standings. The team currently sits in the 6th and final conference playoff position, just one point ahead of the 7th place Dalhousie Tigers.

With plenty of optimism coming into the season, as the team continued to add building blocks for the future, the Axemen were looking to improve on their regular season results of a year ago. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued the Axemen thus far, with up to 8 regulars out with injuries for multiple games. Despite this, there have been bright spots, as the Axemen have battled in every game with a depleted lineup.

Acadia Head Coach Darren Burns reflected on his team’s 1st half saying, “I truthfully felt our team made a lot of positive strides during the first half. Our special teams were solid, and I think our defensive play got much better as the season progressed backed by outstanding goaltending down the stretch.”

Goaltending has been the backbone of the 1st half of the season for the Axemen, as the Acadia netminders strong play have given the team a chance to win on every given night. Acadia’s Goals Against Average is 3.07, only UNB & SMU have averaged a lower goals against per game in the conference, and only UNB has a better save % in the AUS than Acadia’s goaltenders combined .908 Save %.

Brayden Peters got off to a strong start going 2-2 in 5 games, before a potentially season ending injury, and Thomas Couture has been rock solid, playing in 14 games, with a save % of .915 and goals against average of 2.89.

Brady Burns had an impressive 1st half of the season, putting up 17 points in 18 games to lead the team in points, and forward Ethan Ernst has added 8 points in his 1st season. Charlie Desroches, Tyler Deline, and Cam Whynot have been solid additions on the blue line in their 1st year of AUS action.

Second year forwards Bailey Peach and Liam Kidney have continued their progression with Peach leading the team with 7 goals, and has 12 points, while Kidney has 9 points. Zack Jones & Brendan Sellan have also been strong upfront, while veterans Hudson Wilson, Morgan Nauss, & Orie Mainolfi have been anchors on the blue line.

The Axemen struggle has been scoring goals, as they rank at the bottom of the AUS in goals, despite an improved powerplay over last season. This will be a focal point to improve upon for success in the 2nd half.

Looking forward to the 2nd half, Coach Burns said, “It’s obviously a 12-game sprint. Coming out of the gate strong and gelling as a team will be important. We anticipate that we will get a lot of players back into our line up to start the second half and this should help our offensive play. There is no question, it played a factor in our energy level and ability to play in our opponent’s end. We need to make sure we stay positive, composed, and laser focused in the second half.”

The Axemen are hopeful to have all skaters back from injury, only goalie Brayden Peters is expected to remain on the injured list long-term. This will be a massive boost for the Axemen, adding Peyton Hoyt, Nick Deakin-Poot, & Cole Nagy up front, and a healthy Orie Mainolfi, Tyler Deline, Merrick Rippon, and Luke Zazula will give the Axemen the deep lineup they envisioned back in September.

The Axemen return to action on January 3rd as they travel to Halifax to face the Saint Mary’s Huskies. The two teams have played over 2 full games + two 3-on-3 overtime periods without a goal being scored. The Huskies have won both games 1-0 in shootouts, so January 3rd is bound to be another dandy! You can watch the game live on and cheer on your Acadia Axemen in their march to the playoffs.