AUS to allow member-driven competition this winter semester if public health directives allow

(HALIFAX, N.S.) Atlantic University Sport has announced that it will not proceed with conference-sanctioned regular seasons or postseasons for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and will not host any conference championships.

However, AUS will allow member-driven competition for the upcoming winter semester.

The decision means schools will be permitted to engage in competition at a level they are comfortable with, and would likely see the teams involved face opponents they are in closer proximity to geographically.

Each of the AUS’s 11 individual member universities will determine its own level of participation in accordance with the most up-to-date public health directives.

“We had hoped to be able to get to a place where we could see some semblance of a regular season and postseason take place for our winter sport student-athletes,” said AUS executive director Phil Currie. “Unfortunately given the current realities in many of our regions, and evolving public health directives, this won’t be possible.”

“What we are encouraged by is the decision of our board of directors to continue to allow member-driven competition in the new year if public health guidelines allow. The safety of our student-athletes, campuses and surrounding communities is the top priority. But we are also in the business of delivering sport opportunities to young people. And our member universities intend to provide those opportunities so long as the experts deem it safe to do so at that time.”

Last month, AUS announced the formation of a new committee dedicated to exploring possible return-to-play options for January 2021 and beyond.

The Return-to-Play Committee was comprised of an athletic director from each of the four Atlantic provinces, along with two representatives from the AUS conference office. Its mandate was to develop a framework which would allow for a safe and viable return to conference-sanctioned competition this season.

“With guidance and input from public health and building on a lot of the groundwork already laid regarding safe practices on our respective campuses, we were able to create a very thorough plan in a short window of time,” said UNB director of athletics and AUS president John Richard, who served as chair of the AUS Return-to-Play Committee.

The committee developed a comprehensive framework which includes guidelines for participants and facilities, travel considerations, risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans and possible approaches to sport programming.

The framework was first submitted to public health in the four Atlantic provinces for feedback, and was then deliberated on by the AUS board of directors, which is comprised of the presidents of each of its member universities.

“As a group that is extremely passionate about sport, we are disappointed for our student-athletes and stakeholders that regular seasons and championships won’t be possible this winter. But we acknowledge and respect the current realities and the steps being taken by those in leadership positions to keep everyone safe,” said Richard.

“We’re still hopeful there will be a pathway for meaningful competition for many of our student-athletes this winter and we’re grateful the board has afforded us that opportunity.”

“The Board was extremely impressed with the detailed framework developed by the Return-to-Play Committee,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, chair of the AUS board of directors and president of Acadia University. “But, given the state of the pandemic in our region and having the health and safety of our student-athletes first and foremost in our minds, we could not see our way to endorsing a return to conference competition play at this time or in the near future.”

AUS member schools intend to utilize the content developed in the return-to-play document as they determine their respective paths forward next semester.

Fundamental to the framework is the principle that the most current public health directives will always determine the approach and that any and all planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in any relevant region.

Set to faceoff against Team Canada Jr hopefuls


TORONTO (U Sports) –U Sports unveiled Monday its roster for a two-game exhibition series between the U Sports men’s hockey all-stars and Canada’s National Junior Team prospects. Acadia’s Geoff Schemitsch will join the U Sports all-star squad. Last season, Axeman Matthew Pufahl was named to the team.

The two-game set, which was announced last month, will take place at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau, home of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. ET and Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. ET as part of the National Junior Team’s preparation for the 41st IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal (Dec. 26 – Jan. 5).

The 23-player U Sports lineup – all but one with CHL experience – is comprised of 11 standouts from the OUA conference and six apiece from the AUS and Canada West leagues. Twelve of the 23 players have represented U Sports against the World Junior hopefuls in the past, including 11 returnees from last year’s inaugural national all-star squad which split the two-game series, winning the first game 5-4 in a shootout. The OUA contingent will look to make their case for a spot on the 2017 Winter Universiade roster, with head coach Brett Gibson also serving as the FISU Games bench boss.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for these 23 U Sports athletes from across the country to showcase how great of a product we have,” said Gibson. “It also comes with a great responsibility to be a small part of the preparation for our Canadian under-20 team in their quest for a gold medal.”
Protecting the U Sports net in Boisbriand will be goaltenders Kevin Bailie from Queen’s, Corbin Boes from Dalhousie and Jordon Cooke from Saskatchewan, who all suited up in last year’s event.Read more »

Axemen sit in 2nd in AUS at Holiday Break


(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds scored four power-play goals in a 5-2 win over the visiting Acadia Axemen, in the 25th edition of UNB’s Mark Jeffrey Memorial Game.

Philippe Maillet(Terrebonne, QC) scored twice and assisted on two other goals to lead UNB.

In a pre-game ceremony, Maillet was named the recipient of the annual Mark Jeffrey Scholarship.

Jordan Murray(Riverview, NB) also had a four-point night for the Varsity Reds, recording four assists.

“They’re a tough team to play against,” said Murray, of the Axemen. “They have big “D”, they play physical, they want to take our skill away, make us take stupid penalties, but we came out on top tonight.”

Matt Murphy(Fredericton, NB), Rob Mignardi(Richmond Hill, ON), and Chris Clapperton(Cap Espoir, QC) also scored for the home team.

Geoff Schemitsch(Thornhill, ON) scored both goals for the Axemen.

Acadia opened the scoring at 2:09 of the first period, when Schemitsch beat Alex Dubeau(Mascouche, QC).

Murphy evened the score, with his first goal of the season and first as a Varsity Red, at 10:05. Read more »

Thompson with 3 points in the Acadia Win


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Panthers struggles continued Friday night as they let a late lead slip against the Acadia Axemen who came out on top 5-4 in a shootout.

The comeback looked complete when the Panthers (5-9-3) stormed in front of their opponent with three third period goals. However, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, Axeman Stephen Harper tied it at four, sending the match into overtime.

“That says a lot about our team,” said Brett Thompson, who assisted on the game-tying goal and recorded a game-high three points (one goal, two assists). “They got us on our heels and they were giving it to us, but we showed a lot of character and answered back right away.”

Despite surrendering a third period lead, Axemen head coach Darren Burns credited his team’s no-quit attitude.

“To get scored on three times in the third and then come back and win is great,” Burns said. “I’m extremely proud of this team.”

With Friday’s win, Burns’ squad improved to 11-5-1, while extending their win streak to four games.

Aiming to get back in the win column, the Panthers controlled the pace from the opening puck drop. Only three minutes into the game, Marcus Power fired a cross-ice pass to Brent Andrews who flew in from the slot and redirected it for the quick 1-0 lead.

Momentum shifted Acadia’s way near the end of the period when they scored twice in just three minutes. Acadia capitalized on a Panthers miscue at 16:33 when Tyler Ferry got hold of a blind clearing attempt and scored the game-tying goal, his first of the season.

With seconds remaining in the period, Matthew Pufahl added to the lead with a power play marker. Read more »

Steeves Stars in Goal for Acadia


WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The Acadia Axemen (9-5-1) defeated the first place UNB Varsity Reds (12-1-2) 2-1, handing the V-Reds their first regulation loss of the season and snapping their eight-game winning streak. Axemen goaltender Robert Steeves (Moncton, N.B.) had a stellar game, giving Acadia a win against the U Sports No. 1 ranked team in the country.

Acadia struck first in a fast paced first period. Fourth year defenseman Geoff Schemitsch (Thornhill, Ont.) took a slap shot from the point that was redirected by forward Michael Clarke (Halifax, N.S), to put the Axemen up 1-0 on the power-play.

UNB responded roughly six minutes later, at the beginning of a four-minute penalty kill, when fifth year V-Reds forward, Rob Mignardi (Richmond Hill, Ont.), sped past the defenseman and ripped a low wrist shot past Axemen goaltender, Robert Steeves.

By periods end, UNB led in shots, 11-9, with the game tied at 1-1 and the Axemen carrying a power-play over into the second.Read more »

Pufahl & Harper chip in with 3 assists a piece

The Axemen travelled to Halifax on Friday night to face the surprising team of the first half in the AUS, the Dalhousie Tigers. Although Acadia had won the previous two games with the Tigers this season, the Tigers came in to play just 2 points back of the Axemen. Acadia’s lineup was decimated by injuries, with starting netminder Devin Williams out, and top forwards Kyle Farrell, Nick Betz, and Chance Braid all injured. But the Axemen didn’t use that as an excuse, as they toppled Dalhousie by a 5-2 score at the old Halifax Forum.

For the first time this season, the Axemen powerplay was the reason for the victory, converting on 3 of 8 chances. The man advantage has been a major speed bump this year coming in to play on Friday with just a 6% conversion rate, worst in the AUS.

The Axemen came out flying, scoring off the opening faceoff on their first shot as Boston Leier converted a cross crease pass from Matthew Pufahl just 11 seconds into the game to give Acadia the early 1-0 lead.  That score stuck until late in the period when the Axemen doubled their lead while on the powerplay, as Marc McNalty parked himself in front of the Dal net and put a rebound past the Dal netminder Corbin Boes. Just over 2 minutes later, the Axemen appeared to take a firm hold on the game when Stephen Harper found Michael Clarke at the left circle. Clarke ripped a perfect shot over the shoulder of the Dal netminder to make it 3-0 with just 35 seconds to play in the opening period. But the Tigers responded quickly as Felix Page showed great skill and patience as he dangled around Axemen netminder Robert Steeves to get his team on the board just 23 seconds later, and sent the teams to the intermission with a 3-1 score.

Dalhousie fed off that late first period goal by scoring just 1:24 into the second period, cutting the Acadia lead to just one goal, as Page again found the back of the net. The teams headed to the dressing rooms with the score 3-2 for Acadia.

The Axemen found their stride in the third period with the man advantage as Daniel Pettersson unloaded a slap shot from the point, with a nice screen in front of the net, compliments of Sam Fioretti to give Acadia a two goal lead. Midway through the period, again on the powerplay, Remy Giftopoulos walked into the high slot and snapped a shot past Boes to seal the win for Acadia 5-2.

Acadia fired 40 shots at the Dal net, while Robert Steeves turned aside 23 of 25 shots he faced. Matt Pufahl and Stephen Harper each had 3 assists on the night, while Boston Leier and Michael Clarke each had a goal and an assist.

With the win, Acadia advanced to 8-5-1, while Dalhousie fell to 5-6-3. The Axemen have Saturday night off, as they head home to prepare to host the AUS #1 team, the UNB Varsity Reds next Friday and the UPEI Panthers on Saturday.

Pufahl & Giftopolous score for Axemen


Antigonish, NS -  The U Sports #2-ranked StFX X-Men (10-4) skated to a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Acadia Axemen (7-5-1) in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey action Wednesday night at the Keating Centre.

Freshman Cole MacDonald (Wetaskiwin, AB) notched the game-winner, at 2:28 of the extra session, after taking a lead pass from team-mate Kristoff Kontos (Penetanguishene, ON), who notched the lone assist.

Both teams engineered great chances in the end-to-end 3-on-3 overtime period.

In the first period, at the 2:38 mark, freshman forward Matt Needham (Penticton, BC) opened the scoring for StFX. Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) and Adam Stevens (Bedford, NS) assisted on the power-play goal.

A short time later, the X-Men garnered a man advantage, with Holden Cook (Oshawa, ON) walking off the side boards to take a hard wrist shot, but Axemen freshman goaltender Devin Williams (Saginaw, MI) made the save and smothered the puck.

While short-handed, Boston Leier (Saskatoon, SK) got sent in on a partial breakaway for the Axemen, but Brandon Hope (Canton, MI) stretched out his left pad and glove hand to make the stop on the forward’s shot from the top of the face-off circle.

Leier collected a second scoring opportunity, on the same penalty kill, but Hope steered the shot aside with his right pad.

At 11:45, defenseman Matthew Pufahl (Saskatoon, SK) sent a lead pass to a streaking Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, ON), who went from forehand to backhand, before stuffing the puck behind Hope. Pufahl notched the lone assist on the equalizer.

Forward Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, NS) attempted to regain the lead for the X-Men, but Williams corralled his soft backhander from in close.

On the power play, Leier had another chance, after taking a pass from Nick Betz (Detroit, MI), in the slot, but Hope stymied him, again, with his right pad.

Late in the period, X-Men captain Eric Locke (Toronto, ON) found a streaking MacDonald, but he could not beat Williams, from the lip of the crease. Cook started the play with a cross-ice feed to Locke, who carried the puck just inside the blue line.

Regan Spears (Port Hood, NS) and Cianfrone also had chances to make it 2-1, before the end of the frame, but Williams was equal to the task.

In a fast-paced and physical second period, the teams went scoreless.

Early on, Leier bolted in on his off-wing, but the puck rolled away from him and through the X-Men crease, before he could get away a quality shot.

The best chance to start the middle frame, for the X-Men, came off the stick of Locke, who was left alone in front of the net. But, after taking a cross-ice pass from Kontos, he had to gather the puck before shooting, which gave Williams time to slide over and make the save.

Giftopoulos had a chance for his second of the night, but Hope made another right pad save.  Read more »


TORONTO (U Sports) – The CIS student-athletes announced last month (Oct. 19) as Top Eight Academic All-Canadians for the 2015-2016 season were honoured in Ottawa on Tuesday morning.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the fourth Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation to the eight recipients, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall, his official residence.

Every year, a growing number of CIS student-athletes are recognized as Academic All-Canadians, having maintained an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one – or more – of their university’s varsity teams.

Among these outstanding individuals, one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four conference are selected annually to make up the Top Eight.

The 2015-16 recipients from Atlantic University Sport (AUS) are Elenor Henry (Toronto), a soccer player and biochemistry student from Mount Allison University, and Geoff Schemitsch (Thornhill, Ont.), a hockey player and kinesiology student from Acadia University.

Representing the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) are Laval University’s Gabrielle Lapointe (Montmagny, Que.), a soccer player and medical student, as well as McGill University’s François Jarry (Lachine, Que.), a cross country/track and field athlete and physical and health education major.

The winners from Ontario University Athletics (OUA) are Cindy Nelles (Belleville, Ont.), a rugby player and civil engineering student from McMaster University, and Colin Behenna (Waterloo, Ont.), a hockey player and math and business student from the University of Waterloo.

Last but not least, the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) recipients are swimmer Rebecca Terejko (Brantford, Ont.), a kinesiology student, as well as Chad Bush (Ottawa), a soccer player and history major, both from the University of British Columbia.

“The number of Academic All-Canadians speaks volume about the quality of our student-athletes, but also our coaches, support staff and our universities,” said Graham Brown, chief executive officer of U Sports. “To be selected among 12,000 of their peers is an achievement these exceptional student-athletes should be extremely proud of. They represent the very best of what university sport is all about.”


Following is a profile of each member of the 2015-16 Top Eight, as well as a list of all-time winners.Read more »

Giftopoulos leads the way with 2 tallies


WOLFVILLE, N.S. – The Acadia Axemen (6-5), improved to 5-1 at home, as they handed the Dalhousie Tigers (4-4-3), on a rare Tuesday night game, a 4-1 loss. The Axemen also leapfrogged the Tigers in the AUS standings, for the time being, to move into fourth place behind the UPEI Panthers.

Although the first period saw no goals from either side, there were numerous bone crushing hits from both teams. Dalhousie was unable to capitalize on a string of Axemen penalties in the middle of the first, which saw Acadia forward, Remy Giftopoulos (Ancaster, Ont.), block a cross ice shot that would have surely gone in past the sprawling Axemen goaltender Devin Williams (Detroit, Michigan). At the end of the period, Acadia led in shots, 11-8.

Bad blood continued between the two teams into the second, with both sides pleading their case to the referees’ multiple times during a period that saw questionable hits from both sides.

Early in the second, the Tigers had a goal immediately called back, due to a hand pass.

Acadia scored early in the second, when fourth-year forward, Brandon Childerley (Stratford, Ont.), picked up the puck off the boards from a point shot by rookie defenseman Marc McNalty (Medicine Hat, Alta.) and fired the puck low glove side on Dalhousie goaltender Joe Gladnick (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

The Tigers ended the period on a four-minute power play, but were once again unable to find the back of the net against the best penalty killing team in the conference.

By periods end, the Axemen were still ahead in shots, 22-18 and holding a 1-0 lead going into the third period.Read more »

Giftopoulos & Leier with Axemen goals


Charlottetown, PE – The UPEI Panthers defeated the Acadia Axemen 3-2 to take home 2 important points in AUS Men’s Hockey action before 950 fans at MacLauchlan Arena.

Panther Cody Payne opened the scoring on the power play with 2:19 remaining in the first period, assisted by Ryan MacKinnon and Marcus Power, but Axemen Remy Giftopoulous evened the score shortly after with 53 sec remaining, helper going to Daniel Pettersson.

Defensemen Brock Beukeboom gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead mid-way through the second.  Drawing assists were Cody Payne and Kurt Etchegary.

Subway Player of the Game Marcus Power scored the eventual game winner with 12:16 remaining in the third assisted by RT Rice and Casey Babineau.

On the power play Axemen Boston Leir closed the gap to one from Sam Fioretti with 3:28 remaining but it wasn’t enough as the Panthers held on for a 3-2 win.

Matt Mahalek made 19 saves for the win, while Robert Steeves turned aside 28 shots in the loss.

The Panthers return to action Friday night on the road when they travel to Halifax to play the Dalhousie Tigers, game time 7:00 pm.

The Axemen’s next game is Tuesday when they host the Dalhousie Tigers, puck drop is 7:00 pm.