Acadia alumnus named Toronto assistant coach

Photo credit Nick Brancaccio

The Toronto Maples Leafs announced the hiring of Acadia Axemen alumnus Paul McFarland as their new assistant coach this week. McFarland, who played for the Axemen from 2006-2010, will join Mike Babcock’s coaching staff in Leafs country, replacing D.J. Smith who moved on from Toronto to take on the head coaching role with the Ottawa Senators.

McFarland was last year’s special guest speaker at the 20th Acadia Hockey Celebrity Dinner, after he had finished his first season behind the bench with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. A season that saw the Panthers miss the NHL playoffs by just one point. After a second season, alongside head coach Bob Boughner, Panthers management decided to take a different direction and brought in Joel Quenneville as the new head coach, making McFarland a coveted free agent to join the coaching staff of many professional hockey teams.

McFarland grew up in Richmond Hill, a part of the Greater Toronto Area, and went on to play four seasons of major junior hockey, with the Kitchener Rangers and the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. In his first season with Kitchener in 02-03, the Rangers won the OHL championship and the Memorial Cup. Paul has always been known for his leadership skills and work ethic, serving as the captain of the Windsor Spitfires in the final year of his OHL career.Read more »

Peyton, St. Louis, Reynolds & Dickie to be Inducted

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Acadia’s 2018 Homecoming weekend celebrations will include the Axemen Hockey Honour Roll induction luncheon on Friday, Oct. 12 beginning at 11:30 am at Fountain Commons.

Included in this year’s hockey honour roll induction ceremony are former Axemen Josh St. Louis ’01, Chris Peyton ’00 and Doug Reynolds ’98. Also included in this year’s Hockey Honour Roll induction is former head coach Kevin Dickie, who is now the Executive Director of Athletics and Community Events.

Former Axemen Captain, Chris Peyton, will be entering the Honour Roll after an outstanding four year career. Peyton played his Junior hockey years with the Halifax Mooseheads before coming to the Axemen. With 59 assists, Peyton is leader of his class of 1996 to 2000 in assists.

After an incredible 57 goals and 108 points in his last year of Major Junior hockey with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL, Josh St. Louis was arguably the top recruit entering the CIAU in 1997. In only 3 seasons, St. Louis scored 43 goals for Acadia in his career – 22nd among the top Axemen.Read more »

Acadia Hockey Honour Roll Member adds another Honour

Left to Right: Mark McFarlane, Jeff MacLeod and Robin Hennigar

AMHERST, N.S. – This past Wednesday, July 18, former Hockey Axeman Mark McFarlane ’95 along with two additional inductees were installed into the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame (Oakland, CA) in association with CANSA (Cumberland African Nova Scotia Association).

From Amherst, N.S., McFarlane was a member of Acadia’s 1993 University Cup hockey championship team and graduated in 1995.

Prior to joining the Axemen, he played for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League from 1988 to 1991 where he won a Memorial Cup.

After Acadia, Mark turned to the professional ranks, suiting up for several teams in the Southern Hockey League, the United Hockey League, the Central Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League.

McFarlane won three Colonial Cup championships (UHL and CoHL) with the Quad-City Mallards and retired from professional hockey in 2004.

His number 22 was retired by the Mallards and in 2010 and he was inducted into the Axemen Hockey Honour Roll. Mark won five championships from Junior hockey onwards.Read more »

Axemen alumnus turned NHL assistant coach

By John DeCoste ’77

When he arrived at Acadia in the fall of 2006, coaching in the NHL – or anywhere else, for that matter – wasn’t necessarily on Paul McFarland’s radar screen.

Now that he has been a coach for six seasons – most recently with the Florida Panthers during the 2017-2018 season – McFarland has come to realize that coaching “was what I really wanted to do.”

McFarland was back in Wolfville as a special guest for the 20th anniversary of the hockey Axemen celebrity dinner June 13.

He acknowledged that growing up and playing hockey in Richmond Hill, Ontario, he had the same dreams and aspirations as any other Canadian youngster – to hopefully one day play in the NHL.

McFarland played four seasons of major junior hockey – two full seasons with the Kitchener Rangers, one with the Windsor Spitfires, and one season split between the two teams. Never a great scorer, he was (and is) an outstanding leader, which continues to serve him well in his coaching career.

McFarland ended up playing 155 OHL regular-season games with Kitchener and 81 with Windsor. While at Acadia, he played 112 games and didn’t miss a game for four seasons.Read more »

Axemen graduates playing at elite levels

The Acadia University hockey Axemen continue to graduate highly skilled players that are going on to play in elite leagues as high as the AHL.

This year’s graduates may have raised the bar to a whole new level for the Axemen hockey program with two players signing AHL contracts, one with the ECHL, and 3 more signing contracts to play overseas in elite leagues.

Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns had this to say about the success of the graduating Axemen,“It is great to see so many of our players pursuing pro hockey once they have finished their degree. This year is a great indication of what opportunities are out there for players who work hard. There’s no question we want to create an environment where players can continue to grow their game once done their major junior careers. We are very fortunate that our department and institution has created an environment with an arena which is second to none in the country; a brand new professional dressing room with a state of the art weight room right beside it. It’s an exceptional culture for hockey. As we tell every recruit, Hockey Matters at Acadia and we are very proud of that. ”

Let’s run down the signings from the past year’s graduates:


Boston Leier – Belleville Senators – AHL

Bossy has led the Axemen with heart and skill for the past 4 years, after the University Cup last season, he signed an AHL tryout contract with the Belleville Senators and recorded 6 points in 8 games before returning to Acadia to graduate with his degree. It wasn’t long after that the NHL’s Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate team came calling, and Leier signed on with Belleville. At the Senators development camp earlier this summer, he led his squad to tournament victory, and will attend the main camp for the  Ottawa Senators heading into the fall.  The WHL alumnus, played his junior career with the Medicine Hat Tigers & Regina Pats before putting up 114 points in 111 regular season games with Acadia. Boston will look to be a big part of the success of the Belleville team this season.Read more »

Acadia grad joins Washington Capitals affiliate

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Sam Fioretti for the 2018-19 season. The Calgary, Alberta native will begin his professional career with the Stingrays after 4 years at Acadia University and four seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League.

“We talked to Sam through the spring. He was a really good player for Acadia, which is a very well-coached program,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ryan Warsofsky. “He had a really good regular season and was one of their leaders. We’ve followed him the last couple of years and he has some energy, brings grit and plays on the edge. We’re really happy to bring him in next season.”

“Being a guy that played my major junior hockey in Moose Jaw and living in Canada I like the idea of going down and experiencing time in the states while playing hockey,” said Fioretti. “Talking to Coach Warsofsky, we developed a little bit of a relationship and through word of mouth I found out that people who have played in South Carolina love it down there. It just seemed like a great opportunity and a great spot to continue my career.”Read more »

Another Axemen graduate heads to the AHL

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Graduating hockey Axeman Matt Pufahl will extend his hockey career with the Colorado Eagles this coming season. The Eagles will take over as the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche affiliate team. The AHL Board of Governors approved league expansion in July of 2017, with the Eagles set to come on board this season. The Eagles are located in Loveland, CO — about 100km north of Denver.

“I was expecting to go over to Europe, to be honest. I was looking over there with my new agent, when David Oliver (Director of Player Development, Colorado Avalanche) out of Colorado called me. I had been in contact with him before when I was there out of Junior Hockey. He asked me what my plans were and I indicated I had shifted my focus to Europe and hadn’t heard anything from North America,” noted Pufahl.Read more »

Leier’s tryout proves successful with new contract

Belleville, Ont. – The Belleville Senators have signed former Acadia Axemen forward Boston Leier to an American Hockey League contract for the 2018-19 season.

Leier was signed out of Acadia University on March 22 to an amateur tryout agreement after a four-year U SPORTS career in the AUS. In eight games with Belleville, his first foray into professional hockey, he scored four goals and added two assists.

Leier returned to Acadia to complete his courses and write several exams.

“I’m extremely excited to sign my first professional contract with Belleville,” Leier said. “It has been a goal of mine to do this since I entered junior hockey so I’m obviously very grateful for the opportunity. Every member of management, coaching staff and players made my short time there this season a great experience.

“I am excited to start a new chapter with Belleville and could not have done this without my many people, most importantly my family. I am thankful for the opportunities I had at Acadia University and without our athletic department, coaches, and past and current teammates I would not be where I am today and am very excited to get the season going in the fall.”Read more »

Thunder Adds Acadia Product Makin

Story courtesy of

Wichita, KS (Sept. 14th) – The Wichita Thunder, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and powered by Toyota, announced today the signing of forward Taylor Makin.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play for the Thunder,” stated Makin. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about Coach Cameron and am looking forward to playing for him. I’m excited to play in Wichita as I’ve been told awesome things about the fans, the organization and the city and I can’t wait to get the season started!”

Makin, 25, turns pro after playing the last four years at Acadia University (USports). A native of Blairmore, Alberta, the 6-foot, 202-pound forward collected 19 points (6g, 13a) and 147 penalty minutes in 71 career games for the Axemen.

“Taylor is a high energy, physical presence on the ice,” said Head Coach Malcolm Cameron. “He plays 100 miles an hour, 100% of the time. We look forward to seeing his energy in a Thunder jersey.”Read more »

Edinburgh Capitals sign Canadian forward Dylan Anderson

Story courtesy by Ross Dewar
The 26-year-old, who can play both wing and centre, has signed his first professional contract having spent the last five years playing in the Canadian University League – last season with Queens University following a four-year spell with Acadia University, where he was a team-mate of Caps recent signing Mike Cazzola.
Anderson revealed Cazzola, last season’s East Coast Hockey League rookie of the year, was instrumental behind his move to the Capital and now the duo can’t wait to team up again at Murrayfield. “The team contacted me a while back and things were all worked out pretty quickly,” Anderson explained. “We [Anderson and Cazzola] played four years together at Acadia, he’s a tremendous player and a big part in me deciding to come to Edinburgh. He was a big reference for me, which I appreciate, and we’re both excited to be back playing together and help Edinburgh win games.”
Anderson looks the ideal replacement for Taylor MacDougall, who last month asked to be released from the second year of his contract, and appears to revel in the workmanlike role that is so important to any team craving success.
Asked to describe himself when on the ice, Anderson said: “I’m a big skating centre-man who can play a strong game defensively, and I’m good in all three zones. I’m reliable, good on the penalty kill and strong on face-offs.” Last season Anderson bagged ten goals and eight assists in 38 appearances as Queens University reached the play-off quarter finals. He now hopes he can replicate that kind of form with his new club.
He said: “They’ve told me they like the fact that I can play wing or centre and that I can jump on to that third line and just play my game and do what I do best, playing strong defensively and killing penalties.

“I’ve always wanted to play professionally in Europe, this is a big goal of mine.”

Read more »