Axemen add defenceman to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of defenceman Merrick Rippon to our hockey program. Merrick, a native of Ottawa, is described as a hard-hitting defenceman who played his junior career on the blue line for parts of three OHL seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads and his hometown Ottawa 67’s.

Originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers, his OHL rights were moved from Kitchener to Mississauga, where he played to start the 2017-2018 season. At the Christmas break, the 6-foot-1 defenceman was dealt to the Ottawa 67’s.

Over his OHL tenure, he has suited up for parts of three seasons with the 67’s in the OHL. Rippon has a total of 54 points in 168 regular-season games played in the league and was a big part of a long playoff run in 2019, which saw the 67’s sweep their first three playoff series on route to a 4-2 series loss in the J. Ross Robertson Cup finals. Following the season, Rippon was invited to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes rookie camp, but couldn’t attend due to an injury.

In 2020, Rippon was on track for a career year before the season came to an abrupt halt, recording 13 points in 36 games played.

With the OHL not playing due to the pandemic in 2021, Rippon signed a amateur tryout (ATO) with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. Merrick suited up for 1 game with the AHL club.

Coach Burns is excited to add Rippon saying, “Merrick comes from a tremendous background as he was an integral part of the Ottawa 67s. He is an excellent addition for us as he played in an organization which is extremely high profile and a lot of responsibility comes with playing there as it does here. He has a team first mentality and is a fierce two way defencemen with very good mobility . He is tailor made for AUS hockey. He’s all about compete and accountability on the ice. He will be counted on heavily to play against teams top lines.”

Rippon joins a very impressive recruiting class put together by Coach Burns and his staff, with the additions of netminder Max Paddock, fellow defensemen Luke Zazula and Olie Mainolfi, and forwards Luke Moncada, Keegan Stevenson, and Adam McMaster. The Acadia Axemen are the host team for the 2021-22 UCup national tournament, taking place in March in Halifax.

Acadia adds skilled forward to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Beamsville, Ontario native Adam McMaster to the hockey program. Adam is a 5’10” forward, who played his junior career in the OHL with the North Bay Battalion and Owen Sound Attack. He was originally drafted in the 1st round, 13th overall by North Bay in the OHL priority draft.


After 2 ½ years with the Battalion, he moved on to Owen Sound in 2018-19. In that season with the two clubs he combined for 51 points in 69 regular season game. In his only full season with the Attack in 2019-20, he added 42 points in 60 games in the shortened season due to the pandemic. The OHL did not play in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, so McMaster did not play an overage junior year.  In the four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League Adam tallied 50 goals, 95 assists for 145 points in 254 regular season games.  He also added eight assists in 10 playoff games.


We asked Adam what made him choose Acadia for the next chapter of his career, and he said, “Through talking with Coach Burns for the past 7 or 8 months I could tell Acadia is a place that I could further my education and also my playing career. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Acadia and the AUS conference. I am excited to get to Acadia and play in front of the Axemen fans!


When McMaster described his own play he said, “Axemen fans can expect a fast paced player who is very creative in both ends of the ice. A player who loves to use his edges and speed in order to create plays for my teammates.”


To watch a highlight pack of McMaster’s OHL play, visit:


Head Coach Darren Burns spoke highly of the Axemen new addition saying, “Adam will be a very important addition to our line up. He is a very good skater with excellent offensive skills. His creativity and vision will be a huge asset on our Olympic ice. We needed to increase our offensive output this season and Adam will no doubt help us. He can put the puck in the net and brings a lot of creativity to the powerplay.”


The first year forward joins an already impressive Acadia hockey recruiting class, which includes netminder Max Paddock, defensemen Luke Zazule & Olie Mainolfi, and forwards Luke Moncada & Keegan Stevenson.

Axemen add talented centreman to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Luke Moncada, from Markham, Ontario to the program. Luke is a 6’1” centre who played 4 seasons of junior in the OHL, and spent last season in the AHL.

We asked Moncada what made him chose Acadia for his next step, he said, “Through conversations with Darren Burns and Kris Mcdonald alongside speaking with current and former Acadia players, it was clear that Acadia offered me the best opportunity to further both my education and hockey career. Between the on and off ice training regiment at Acadia and the highly competitive AUS conference, it was clear that Acadia was the best fit for me.

Luke described his own play saying, “Axemen fans can expect to see a responsible 200 ft centremen that impacts the game on both ends of the ice. A player with a lot of passion and heart and will do anything to help my team win.”

Luke was drafted 42nd overall in the 2016 OHL Priority draft by the Guelph Storm. After playing for the Storm in his first season, he was traded to the North Bay Battalion. In the 2019-20 season, he was named assistant captain with North Bay and had his best offensive season, scoring 34 goals in 62 regular season games, and a total of 60 points.

Over 4 years in the OHL, Moncada played in 234 regular season games, scoring 106 points and adding 134 penalty minutes.

In 2020-21, Luke played with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, where he added 3 points in 17 games, and had a +5 plus/minus rating.

Coach Burns is very pleased with the new addition to the Acadia lineup saying, “Luke is a huge addition for our program. It was extremely important to add a player of his skill level to our line up. He is a very gifted two way forward who plays a strong game all over the ice. His intelligence on the ice allows him to be very versatile. Spending the season in the American Hockey League will help him bring a lot of experience to our program in his first year. It was easy to tell in my discussions with him that he has a tremendous passion for the game.”

Moncada joins an impressive recruiting lineup for the upcoming season which also includes netminder Max Paddock, defensemen Luke Zazule & Olie Mainolfi, and forward Keegan Stevenson.

Acadia was named the host team for the USports hockey national tournament this March in Halifax, NS, after hosting the 2020 tournament which was halted after one day of play due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Axemen add two-way defenceman to lineup

Photo from Larry Brunt

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of defenceman Luke Zazula to the hockey program. The 5’8” blueliner from Langley B.C., spent over 5 seasons in the WHL, including being called up to the junior league’s Kamloops Blazers as a 15 year old. He would then play 3 ½ seasons with the Blazers before being traded to the Tri-City Americans where he spent the last year and a half.

We asked Luke about coming to Acadia, he said, “I’m pumped to be attending Acadia. It was the first call I had with a school where I had a good feeling and some excitement; my family and I figured it was the best place to further my hockey career.”

When asked what Axemen fans can expect to see from him on the ice, Luke added, “I’m a 2-way defenceman, who loves getting involved in the O-Zone and loves the game.”

Zazula was named captain of the Tri-City team this past year and notched 9 points in 18 games in the shortened season due to the pandemic.

Back in 2019-2020, in just 37 games with the Americans, he led the team’s defensemen in scoring with five goals and 16 assists and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.

In total over his time in the WHL, Luke played in 239 regular season games, adding 82 points and 256 penalty minutes, adding 3 points in 12 playoff games.

Coach Burns is excited to have Zazula’s compete level added to the lineup saying, “Luke is a highly competitive player that combines will with skill. He is an excellent skater, who will help create offence for our team breaking the puck out on our large ice surface. He is a very skilled player, who sees the ice well and can run a powerplay. You can tell in talking to him how much he loves the game. Its nice to see a player with his offensive abilities display a high compete level. He doesn’t back down from anyone and although his skill and skating are obviously strengths, we believe his compete will no doubt be an asset to our program.”

Zazula joins an impressive crop of Axemen recruits announced so far which includes defenceman Olie Mainolfi, forward Keegan Stevenson, and goalie Max Paddock.  Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming days and weeks.

Axemen add defensive stalwart

Photo : archives, Ghyslain Bergeron/LHJMQ

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of Orlando Mainolfi. Orie, a 6’1” defenceman from Richmond Hill, Ontario, suited up the last two years with the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. He notched 13 points in 85 regular season games.

We caught up with Orie and asked him why he choose Acadia, he said, “I chose Acadia because I’ve heard nothing but great things about the program and the town from everyone I spoke to, and I think it’ll be a really good experience for me moving forward.”

When asked about what Axemen fans can expect from him on the ice, he responded, “my game is more of a shutdown defenceman, who will always look to make the simple play. I take pride in taking care of my own zone first and blocking shots.”

Prior to his time in the QMJHL, he played 2 ½ years in the OJHL with the Markham Royals and Pickering Panthers, adding 16 points in 91 regular season games.

Coach Darren Burns says Orie’s addition is an important one for the Acadia defence corps, saying, “Orlando is a player we think is built for AUS hockey. He continues to get better each year because he has passion and plays the game hard everyday.  He knows structure and he knows accountability. Orie is a very good penalty killer, who is self less in blocking shots, playing physical and doing anything he can to make sure the other team does not score. These are the players you must have to win in this league. It’s pretty simple he’s a kid we believe will show up with an attitude of, what do you need me to do to help us win.”

Mainolfi joins netminder Max Paddock and forward Keegan Stevenson as new recruits for the Axemen, with more new additions to be announced in the coming days.

With USports announcing a full return of sports this upcoming fall, the excitement builds for the Axemen and their fans to hit the ice at the Andrew H. McCain Arena for the 2021-22 season.

Acadia adds highly touted netminder

Axemen recruit Max Paddock makes a save while playing for the Prince Albert Raiders. Photo credit to Jeff D’Andrea/paNOW Staff

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of netminder Max Paddock to the team starting in the fall of 2021. Standing at 6’2”, Max is a native of Brandon, Manitoba, and has spent the past 5 season playing in the WHL with the Regina Pats and most recently the Prince Albert Raiders.

Over those 5 years, Paddock played in 148 regular season games, with a 64-58-14 record, with a 3.01 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. In 2018, Max backstopped the Regina Pats to a Memorial Cup final appearance for the host team, and was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team, as a rookie.

We asked Max about his decision to come to Acadia, he said, “For me the decision was pretty easy when Burnsy reached out to me; first off, my cousin Travis Young played for the Axemen a while back and he had nothing but good things to say about the program. Also knowing that Jordy Stallard, another Brandon, Manitoba native, will help make the transition out east a lot smoother.”

In the shortened 2020-21 WHL season, Max was named the Prince Albert Raiders most valuable player. He also earned an amateur tryout with the AHL’s Stockton Heat in 2021, his second pro camp, as he also took part in the San Jose Sharks rookie camp in 2018. He had been invited to the Winnipeg Jets summer development camp in 2019, but was unable to attend after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.

Acadia head coach Darren Burns is excited with the addition of Paddock in net, saying, “We believe we have added one of the best goalies in the Canadian Hockey League in Max. He had a great year to finish his junior career and has been a player who has excellent memorial cup experience, carrying the ball when Regina hosted the pressure filled tournament. He comes from an excellent hockey background in terms of family pedigree and has a great reputation as a person and teammate. Everyone knows the goaltending position is the most important in hockey. Max is a major positive addition for our program.”

The family pedigree Coach Burns referred to includes his uncle John Paddock who coached in the NHL and has been a GM/coach in the AHL and junior levels through much of the past 20 years; also as mentioned by Max, he is also a cousin to former Acadia Axemen player and assistant coach, alumnus Travis Young.

With the addition of Paddock, and returning 2019-20 AUS MVP, Logan Flodell, the Axemen goaltending duo will rival the best in USports, and will give Acadia a chance to win on every given night in the ultra competitive AUS conference.

When asked to describe his on ice game, Max said, “I’m a competitor who relies on athleticism to make saves and I enjoy doing whatever it takes to win hockey games.”

Paddock joins Keegan Stevenson as 2021-22 Axemen recruits, with more additions to be announced in the upcoming days. We look forward to seeing Max in net this upcoming season in an Acadia Axemen jersey.

Want to see Max Paddock in action? Watch the highlight video from his time in the WHL.

Axemen announce first recruit for 2021-22 season

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce their first recruit for the upcoming 2021-22 USports men’s hockey season, Keegan Stevenson. Keegan is a Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, native who played 4 years in the OHL with the Guelph Storm.

He has been described as the heart and soul, dependable player that every good team needs.

When asked what the Axemen fans can expect from him, Stevenson said, “The fans can expect to see a hard working, two-way forward that can play shutdown defence and create chances in the offensive end. Also, I enjoy participating in many community events and looking forward to meeting the fans.”

The 6’1 forward racked up 87 points in 179 regular season OHL games, with an impressive +29; and in 29 post season games, Stevenson added 8 points. His last two seasons saw the Storm forward come on strong, tallying 19 goals in 55 games in 2018-19 and 21 goals in 63 games in 2019-20.

The 2018-19 season saw Keegan’s Storm win the OHL conference and play in the Memorial Cup in Halifax. The team featured the likes of Nick Suzuki, Mackenzie Entwistle, Nate Schnarr, and Isaac Ratcliffe. Back in 2017-18 he suited up with a familiar face to Axemen fans, former assistant captain and standout defenceman Garrett McFadden.

Earlier this season in February, Stevenson was called up to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, seeing action in 1 regular season game.Read more »

Exhibition hockey action Friday at 7pm

Photo from Peter Oleskevich

Acadia Axemen hockey is back! The Axemen will play an exhibition game on Friday at 7pm in Halifax against the Saint Mary’s Huskies. For all the action, and to cheer on your Acadia Axemen tune in on!

While official USports and AUS regular season & playoff action has been cancelled for the 2020-21 season, the Axemen will play a number of exhibition games, currently against Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie, as long as public health deems it is safe to do so. No fans will be permitted to attend the games at this point in time.

Coach Darren Burns was excited to see his team suit up this week saying, “We are very excited to begin playing games. We truly appreciate the support of Acadia University for athletics and our hockey program. We realize our athletic department has worked very hard to make this happen and we are excited that our guys will get to play the game they love.”

Axemen fans got their first taste of 2020-21 Acadia hockey action last weekend as the team played an intrasquad game which was webcasted on The team split up into two squads with just 12 players aside, playing 4 periods which included pre-arranged penalty killing/powerplay situations for both sides. Axemen first year forward Tyler Hinam was a standout in the game, scoring 2 goals.

In a story released by CBC on Wednesday, Acadia University Director of Athletics Kevin Dickie said, “It’s very special that they’re now going to get a chance to be able to compete, even if it’s just a small number of games over a short period of time, it really isn’t so much about winning now, it’s just about getting the chance to play the sport they love, and that means a lot.”

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.