Coach Burns prepped for stretch run
Welcome to 2017! We’re looking forward to a terrific 2nd half of the AUS Men’s Hockey season. The Axemen resume regular season AUS play on Friday night as they take on the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, and then host the U de M Aigles Bleus on Saturday night in Wolfville.
But before we look ahead, we need to reflect on the first half, where the Axemen finished in 2nd place, in the always competitive AUS conference, with an 11-6-1 record in 18 games.
Acadia hit the ice this season with some major changes in their lineup from the 2015-16 season; gone was perennial scoring leader Mike Cazzola, high scoring threat Zach Franko, & key two way players Dylan Anderson and Travis Randell.
The Axemen had a strong recruiting off-season, adding major size to their lineup with 6’6 defenseman Marc McNulty and 6’4 Alex Lepkowski. Up front 6’5 Nick Betz arrived in Wolfville following a camp invite to the New York Rangers camp, along with 6’3 Stephen Harper who attended the Ottawa Senators main camp. Also added to the lineup were former captain of the STU Tommies Brendan Childerley, Kris Hodge, and Chris Clark.
One of the major recruits was netminder Devin Williams, who starred with the Erie Otters of the OHL with a 41-10-1 record and a 2.36 GAA in 2015-16.
The Axemen struggled out of the gate going 5-5 in their first 10 games, before going 6-2 in their final 8. The early struggles were a team trying to gel, while being hampered by injuries. The biggest struggle of the first half came on the power play where for the first dozen games, the team could not find a way to score with the man advantage. The jinx seems to have been broken and now have edged the pp % to 12.5% after 18 games.
Acadia ended the first half with a 7-1 record on home ice at the Andrew H. McCain Arena, but struggled with a 4-6 record on the road.
Axemen head coach Darren Burns reflected on the first half saying, “I was happy with our recovery from a slow start in the first half. However, the first half is a thing of the past. The reality of our league, especially with only 12 games in the second half, is the teams that kept in shape and are focused, will be successful. Playoffs will begin before you know it and you don’t have as much time to create and maintain structure and work habits.”