A look back at Baker, Clark, Heelis, & Gibbons
Acadia University has been a hot bed for hockey talent for many years… through the late 1980’s and 1990’s, Acadia was a perennial favourite to challenge for the AUS and CIS National titles. Throughout those years, there were many hockey greats to suit up with the Axemen, be it future NHLer Chris Kotsopoulos, or Darren Colbourne, Norm Batherson, George Dupont, Kevin Knopp, Mark McFarlane, Jeff MacLeod and Sean O’Reilly just to name a few. Most notably, in 1994, Axemen Duanne Dennis was the first Acadia University player to be named the nation’s top men’s hockey player, winning the Senator Joseph A Sullivan Trophy.
Since 2000 though, Acadia has turned out some of the top men’s university hockey talent in the country, let’s look back at a few of those who earned exceptional honours:
Kevin Baker, a native of Kingston, Ontario, was a 1999 NHL draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings, chosen in the 7th round. He chose to come to Acadia University after two season of playing in the AHL (American Hockey League) and ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) leagues.
Baker said, “I had to sit out my first year at Acadia (due to being a pro for two years previous) and got to help out, almost like an assistant coach. It was a great experience with my head coach, Darren Burns so I got to see that side of college life, and then I played for three years. I was MVP one year and then we went to the Nationals one year, so it was a really good experience.”
From 2003-2006 in 77 regular season games with Acadia, Baker racked up 103 points including 24 goals and 40 points in 28 games in 2004-05, and 24 goals and 47 points in 05-06. His performance in 05-06 led him to be named the CIS Player of the Year, earning the Senator Joseph A Sullivan trophy.
Acadia head coach Darren Burns said of Baker “He was a pure goal scorer, who always seemed to come up with the clutch goal, when we really needed it. He was very deserving of the prestigious award.”
After graduating, Baker went on to play in the pro ranks in the ECHL, AHL, Germany, Italy, and CHL (Central Hockey League), being named the ECHL MVP in 2008-09, scoring 102 point and being named to the first all-star team. He had also been named to the ECHL first all-star team in 06-07 as well. He continued to be a prolific scorer as late as last season, in 2014-15 with the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards, Kevin notched 50 points in 59 games. He finished off the season by representing the United States in the 2015 Ice Hockey Classic in Australia this summer, playing against many NHL, AHL, and ECHL players.
Andrew Clark, a native of Brandon, Manitoba, graduated with a Kinesiology degree in 2013. From 2009-13 in 111 regular season games, Clark amassed 131 points, including 39 points in 28 games in 2011-12. That year he was named a CIS First Team All-Canadian, and named the CIS Men’s hockey player of the year, becoming the third Axemen to take home the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy. He was named a 2012 finalist for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) Award for top male athlete in the country.Read more »