Regina-born goalie Logan Flodell is anxious to rejoin the Acadia Axemen after a memorable season in 2019-20 was cut short by COVID-19.

Story courtesy of Regina Leader-Post

Goalie Logan Flodell in action last season with the University of Acadia Axemen. Photo by Peter Oleskevich

If there was a theme song for the longest off-season of Logan Flodell’s hockey career, it would probably be “stuck in the middle with you.”

After spending time on the east and west coasts in recent years, Flodell is temporarily confined to the Saskatchewan prairie as he awaits a go-ahead to rejoin the Acadia University Axemen in Wolfville, N.S.

The Regina native has been in limbo since March 12 when all sanctioned hockey activities across Canada were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It already seems a lifetime ago.

“It does; I’m not used to being home (for this long),” said the 23-year-old goaltender, who has been back in Regina for over four months. “I’m probably driving my parents crazy (laughs). It feels like we haven’t played hockey in so long.”

Flodell doesn’t know when the upcoming U sports hockey season will proceed — assuming it does at all.

The first-half schedule has already been cancelled but there is a sliver of hope that at least a portion of the regular season can be salvaged in the new year.

“It’s a unique situation but we’re definitely optimistic,” Flodell said. “Every team including ours wants to get back to sports. It’s what we’re looking forward to and hoping we get the opportunity. You feel bad for all the soccer and rugby and football players (whose seasons were completely cancelled). Hopefully we can start and get (some) games under our belt.”Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, Flodell plans on returning to school in mid-August. He’s crossing his fingers that the Axemen will be cleared to play some exhibition games this fall.“That’s the hopeful goal at least,” said Flodell, who’s encouraged by the relatively low COVID-19 numbers in Nova Scotia.

“I think it’s one of the lowest (along) with Saskatchewan. It’s reassuring at least that the province is doing what it should and it keeps everyone else safe too.”

Given the circumstances, Flodell is feeling even better about the decision to attend school at the other end of the country. He fell in love with the coast lifestyle early in his junior career with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds before moving on to the Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes, eventually graduating from the league in 2018.

The former WHL all-star could have attended university anywhere in Canada, but he liked what he saw from a recruiting trip to Acadia — including the locale.

“I love being by the ocean; it’s something you don’t experience in Saskatchewan,” he said. “I feel like I’ve travelled all over. You’re lucky when you get an opportunity to go across Canada and play in different places.”

The move to Acadia has paid off for Flodell, who followed up a strong rookie season with a brilliant sophomore campaign in 2019-20 (2.79 GAA, .918 save percentage). He was named the MVP of the Atlantic University Sport conference before adding playoff MVP honours, backstopping Acadia to the league final.After losing that series to the New Brunswick Reds, Acadia was preparing to play host to the University Cup national championship when the tournament came to an abrupt halt one day before the Axemen’s opening game.“That was the first time Acadia has ever hosted,” noted Flodell, a second-team All-Canadian. “It was kind of a bummer (to get shut down) but it happened to everyone across the world, I guess. We were pretty heartbroken that we didn’t get to play a game at least.”

Flodell’s consolation prize was being named Acadia’s male athlete of the year.

Overall, it was a memorable season that ended just a few days too soon.

“It would have been nice to prove myself in a national championship against the best in Canada but unfortunately it got cut short,” added Flodell, who’s training for the upcoming season at Next Level Hockey Consulting in Regina.

“We just started skating two weeks ago (with a group of local players). It doesn’t even feel the same because you’re supposed to be preparing to start in August and now you don’t even know when you’re going to have your first team practice.

“It’s so up in the air.”

gharder@postmedia.com

Axemen Hockey Summer Camps

The Acadia Axemen hockey camps have been running for well over 30 years in Wolfville each summer. Throughout those years the focus of the camps has always been on skill development, work ethic, team & sportsmanship, and of course fun. Many Axemen campers have gone on to play elite levels of hockey, including three female players who began as campers, moved on to be instructors at the Axemen camps, and now play NCAA Division 1 hockey. We caught up Brette Pettet, Maggy Burbidge, and Kate Spooner to discuss their experience at Axemen hockey camps first as campers, then as instructors, and what the camps and hockey in the valley meant to them.

 

Brette Pettet – University of Wisconsin Badgers

Growing up in Kentville my parents entered me in Acadia Hockey camps from a young age. Although I was able to improve as a young player and learns many hockey fundamentals, I was also able to further my love for the game of hockey during these camps. I feel lucky to have had such a positive environment and encouraging coaching staff during these camps, which lead to such a fun experience for me at a such young age.

Having the opportunity to coach younger players at Acadia Hockey camps has most definitely been a valuable and beneficial experience for me. Not only have I have the opportunity to gain a different perspective as a coach and use that to help my own game but I’ve also had the chance to build relationships with players and watch them improve over the years, which is incredibly rewarding.

I think growing up in the Valley has enabled me to appreciate the opportunities I have been given over the years pertaining to hockey. One of the things I value most are the people and the relationships I have built throughout my childhood in the Valley. Although I left at a young age to attend Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep School, I am incredibly thankful for coaches like Darren Burns who engraved work ethic and character into my brain as a young girl, as those have been the foundation to any success I have received as a hockey player.

 

Maggy Burbidge – Robert Morris University Colonials

I attended Axemen camps first as a camper when I was younger for many summers before I became an instructor. As a kid it was one of my favorite times to look forward to with hanging with my friends and going on the  ice everyday. I grew up playing boys hockey in both West Hants and Acadia until I left for prep school in bantam. I thought of the Acadia camps as an extended season with my teammates and closest friends . The camps allowed me to look up to older players that were instructors, and I saw them as mentors and I wanted to be like them and work as hard as they did. They really set a culture at the Acadia camps, it was a very hard working and learning environment that allowed everyone to get better and push each other. Learning to work hard from a young age really allowed me to excel in both hockey and school today.

My experience as an instructor at the Acadia hockey camps allowed me to focus and improve my leadership skills and this has allowed me to take those personal experiences in hockey and share them with  kids who wanted to learn and get better. This experience allowed me to grow and exceed as a hockey player and as a person when it came to setting and achieving my goals. It taught me how humbling it is to be able to give back to younger kids who were in the same position as me years earlier. Being a hockey player and seeing how hard the kids worked on and off the ice made me want to be better and work harder in everything I did. One of the experiences I gained as an Acadia hockey camp instructor is seeing the growth of the players from the beginning of the camp and celebrating their success as they learned and continued to develop to the end. There is no greater feeling then being able to help someone get better at a sport they love and see the happiness it brings to them which led me to the academic path that I am currently pursuing. I am currently playing NCAA hockey and studying middle level education at Robert Morris University. This became obvious to me and without the opportunities I got at the Acadia hockey camps, I may have choose a different path in school, but being able to help and learn with these young athletes had really changed my perspective.

Growing up and playing hockey in the valley instilled the hard work philosophy and something that myself and other teammates and friends pride ourselves on. One motto that always makes me think about the previous teams and programs from the valley is: “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. I will always value the friendships and teammates that made hockey so much fun and rewarding. I am forever grateful for the opportunities AMHA, the coaches and teammates, have given me and it truly is an amazing opportunity…if you can see it, you can achieve it.

 

Kate Spooner – Union College

Some of my fondest memories of summers during my childhood were spent at Axemen hockey camps. I was eager to prepare for upcoming hockey seasons, often participating in various Acadia camps (female, age-specific, and goalie camps), sometimes during the same week as coaches are always looking for goalies. Not only did this time improve my on-ice habits and allow me to compete with a range of kids from different skill levels, the camps also encouraged me to explore off-ice training from a young age. These habits improved my work ethic in the net and set a high standard of expectation beyond the ice in the classroom. My strong work ethic and coachability were in part what opened the door to playing at the Division I college level in the USA.

I began my role as an instructor at Acadia camps at a young age and found myself to be learning as much from my campers as I taught them. As a goaltender, I gained valuable experience seeing the game from new perspectives. As I worked through drills with goalies and players alike, it was enlightening to hear their thoughts and see their growth as students of the game. Furthermore, being an instructor at camp taught me many life skills including structure and planning, giving positive feedback, and motivation.

My experience growing up as a hockey player in the Valley was extremely uplifting and enjoyable. Having been apart of mainly co-ed teams, I always found the rinks in the Valley to be welcoming to a diverse group of players. We are very fortunate to have such a strong hockey community in this part of Nova Scotia, especially with the Acadia Axemen and Axewomen as role models to young players in the area. The accessibility of hockey development resources is only improving, and the Axemen camps, along with others, allowed me to thrive as a goaltender and make dreams of collegiate play a reality.

 

Axemen head coach Darren Burns, who has been a camp instructor from his days as a player in the early 1990’s at Acadia, through his tenure as head coach at Acadia, said this about the three Annapolis Valley athletes, “It has been an absolute pleasure to watch these athletes over the years. It was extremely important for us to have their leadership at our camps. They have always worked so hard to be role models for so many. Watching them play in the Acadia Minor Hockey system, and seeing them be impact players on their respective teams has been a rewarding experience for us all at Acadia. It was an easy decision to want to have them work at our camps. They now compete in NCAA Division 1 hockey, it is just great to see their hard work continuing to help them achieve their goals. I think they have been tremendous role models for the youth in the Annapolis Valley, and they deserve every good thing that comes their way! We appreciate their dedication and efforts over the years.”

Acadia adds former Saginaw defenceman

The Acadia Axemen hockey program are proud to announce the commitment of former Saginaw Spirit defenceman Reilly Webb. The 6’4” 200lbs defenceman from Stoney Creek, Ontario fills a big hole on the Axemen blueline left by the graduation of Liam Maaskant and Alexander Lepkowski. In the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly was drafted 164th overall in round 6 by Detroit Red Wings.

Webb is described by his former Spirit head coach Chris Lazary as a quiet leader and a guy everyone wants on their roster, his gritty shut down style was a point of strength on the Saginaw blue line.

Reilly began his Junior career being drafted #33 overall in the 2015 OHL priority selection by the Hamilton Bulldogs. After playing parts of 3 seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs, in which he dealt with some injury issues, Webb was traded from Hamilton to the Saginaw Spirit.

Flourishing in his new home, he spent the next two seasons patrolling the Spirit blueline, shutting down opponents’ top lines. In the 2019-20 shortened season, he also added a career high 21 points in 50 games and was named the team’s best defenseman.

Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns shared his thoughts on the team’s newest addition saying, “Reilly is a very important addition for our program. He is a committed stay at home defencemen who can log a lot of minutes and is extremely hard to play against. He is an excellent penalty killer, who keeps the game simple. He brings with him an outstanding attitude and is a very well-liked player in the dressing room. This, coupled with a relentless work ethic in the gym, will help him adjust quickly to the AUS game.”

Webb becomes the 5th recruiting addition to the Acadia hockey program, joining Tyler Hinam, Cole Rafuse, Peyton Hoyt, and Nick Deakin-Poot. Welcome to the Axemen hockey family Reilly, we look forward to seeing you in an Acadia jersey this fall!

Axemen add 4th recuit to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of forward Nick Deakin-Poot to the program.

The 6’4”, 225lbs Georgetown, Ontario native is known for having good foot speed, a physical style of play, blocking shots and laying big hits, while also scoring timely goals too.

Deakin-Poot started his junior career with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, playing 2 seasons with the Storm, before making the jump to the QMJHL and joining the Saint John Sea Dogs.

In 2 ½ years in QMJHL, he a scored 69 points in 127 games, including 33 goals and 142 penalty minutes. In this past shortened 2019-2020 season, Nick was named an assistant captain with the team and had a career best 33 points in 51 games.

Coach Darren Burns is excited to add Deakin-Poot to the Axemen lineup in the fall, “We believe Nick’s play is tailor made for the AUS. He is in tremendous shape, fast, big and plays a 200-foot game. He is an excellent penalty killer who thrives in the face off circle. He is also a lot to handle in front of the opponent’s net. There’s no question he has a desire to always get better.”

Deakin-Poot joins the three previously announced Axemen recruits in Tyler Hinam, Cole Rafuse, and Peyton Hoyt.  The Acadia hockey program is proud to welcome our four new recruits and we look forward to seeing you in an Axemen uniform this fall.

Axemen add 3rd recruit to lineup

The Acadia Axemen are proud to announce the commitment of Lincoln, New Brunswick’s Peyton Hoyt to the Axemen for the upcoming season. The 5’10” 195lbs forward is a rugged winger with good speed with the ability to find the back of the net.

Hoyt is looking forward to joining the Axemen and making the jump to USports hockey, saying, “I’m happy to have joined a hockey organization with a great history. The fans can expect a very high energized player that will never give up and bring my all every night.”

Peyton was originally drafted into QMJHL #6 overall by the Cape Breton Eagles in 2015. He played his 1st three seasons in the Quebec league with Cape Breton from 2015-2018, which included 18 goals in 2017-18 campaign for the Eagles.

Prior to the 2018-19 season, he joined the Blainville-Broisbriand Armada, scoring 16 points in 31 games before being traded to Val-d’Or Foreurs where he added 18 points in 29 games. Combined between the two teams, Hoyt had his best offensive junior season with 24 goals and 34 points in 60 games.

In 2019-2020, Hoyt returned to Val-d’Or for his 5th QMJHL season and was named an assistant captain with the team and scored 28 points in just 40 games, including 14 goals.

Acadia Head Coach Darren Burns feels Hoyt will be a great fit for Acadia saying, “We are very excited to have added Peyton to our team. He is a high energy player who plays his hardest every shift. His speed, tenacity, and team first attitude will make him a strong addition to our program. We know he will be a fan favourite on the ice, in the community, and in the classroom.”

Hoyt joins Tyler Hinam and Cole Rafuse as new additions to the Axemen hockey squad. Acadia had four players graduate from the program last year, including forwards Stephen Harper & Mark McNulty, and defencemen Liam Maaskant & Alexander Lepkowski.

We are excited to welcome Peyton Hoyt to the Acadia Axemen hockey family.

Kings County native to suit up for Acadia

The Acadia Axemen are pleased to announce the commitment of Harmony, Nova Scotia’s Cole Rafuse to join the Acadia hockey program this fall for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

Cole who suited up for the Valley Wildcats Major Midget team in 2014-15 scoring 31 points in 34 regular season games, went on to be drafted in 2015 into the QMJHL as the first pick in the second round (20th overall) by the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

After 29 games with the Foreurs, Rafuse joined the Acadie-Bathurst Titan for the next 3 ½ years, winning the 2018 QMJHL Championship & then the 2018 Memorial Cup as the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) champions.

Acadia head coach Darren Burns was happy to officially add Rafuse to the Axemen hockey program saying, “We are very excited that Cole has chosen to attend Acadia. He is a player we have always had a lot of respect for, as he has a team first attitude, thinks the game well and has won a Memorial Cup. We believe he is going to be a player who will get better every year. He exudes leadership and character and is well aware of the responsibilities that come with playing hockey at Acadia. There is no question he is the type of player that teams need to be successful in the AUS conference. I know everyone in the Valley will be so excited to have one of their own in an Axemen uniform. It’s exciting for everyone here, it’s just a perfect fit for us all.”

The 6’1, 210 lbs forward had personal bests in 2018-19 with the Titan scoring 16 goals and 31 points in 66 games. He also was named an assistant captain of the team that season.Read more »

2019-20 AUS men’s hockey major awards and all-stars announced

Acadia’s Logan Flodell named AUS MVP

(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2019-20 AUS men’s hockey major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference’s seven head coaches following regular season play.

Second-year Acadia Axemen goaltender Logan Flodell (Regina, Sask.) has been named the AUS MVP.

Other major award winners include Saint Mary’s Mitchell Balmas of Sydney, N.S., who was named rookie of the year; Moncton’s Vincent Deslauriers of Blainville, Que., who was selected as most sportsmanlike player; Acadia’s Liam Maaskant of Clinton, Ont., the recipient of the Godfrey Award for student-athlete community service; and Acadia head coach Darren Burns who was named AUS coach of the year for the fourth time in his career.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (Kelly Trophy): Logan Flodell, Acadia Axemen

The Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey most valuable player is Logan Flodell of the Acadia Axemen.

Flodell, a second-year goaltender from Regina, Sask., played in 26 games for the Axemen this season. He led the conference with a save percentage of .918. His goals against average of 2.79 was the third best in AUS.

Acadia finished the regular season with a 19-9-2 record, good for second place in the conference standings, securing a bye through to the semi-final round of the Subway AUS Men’s Hockey Playoffs.

In addition to being named AUS MVP, Flodell earned a place on the AUS first team all-star squad for the first time in his career.

Flodell now becomes the AUS nominee for the for the U SPORTS Senator Joseph A. Sullivan trophy as the nation’s top player.

The Atlantic conference has claimed nine of the past 16 national player of the year awards.

Former Axemen standout Liam Heelis is the most recent player from an Acadia team to be named national MVP. He won the award in 2013-14.

Philippe Maillet of UNB is the most recent player from the Atlantic conference to earn the national honour. He won the award in 2016-17.

Read more »

Acadia uses final weekend to prep for playoffs

The Acadia Axemen have secured a first round bye in the AUS playoffs. With two games left to play in the regular season, the Axemen have an 18-8-2 record, good for 38 points, 6 more than 3rd place Saint Mary’s. The Axemen clinched the bye last weekend earning a point in a 4-3 overtime shootout loss to the Moncton Aigles Bleus.

Coach Darren Burns is pleased with earning the bye saying, “I believe our team should feel really good about reaching one of their goals of securing a bye. There is no doubt that we needed the time for some guys to get ready to play and back in our lineup.”

The Axemen have battled injuries all season but have continued to find a way to win through a strong defensive game, great goaltending, and a knack to find the back of the net.

Acadia has the 2nd most goals in the AUS, tied with SMU with 104, trailing only UNB who have amassed 143 goals. Meanwhile at the other end of the ice, the Axemen have given up the 2nd lowest number of goals against this season, with just 85, trailing only UNB’s 53 goals against.

2nd year netminder, Logan Flodell has been stellar in the Axemen net this season with a 15-8 record, leading the conference with a .918 save percentage.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Digiacinto continues to have a breakout season, tied for the AUS lead in goals with 19, even with UdeM’s St-Cyr. Digiacinto has an impressive 36 points in 28 games and a +13 rating, having also amassed 80 minutes in penalties on the season.

Coach Burns looks forward to the playoffs and his team’s preparation adding, “The playoffs are an exciting time. As a coaching staff we are eager to see what our team is capable of. We really haven’t had an opportunity to see how good we can be since early September during practices. We still have two games left where we must work hard to improve our game. It’s important not to overlook this weekend. We have lots to works on over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the playoffs.  This practice time will be crucial as the intensity and speed of the playoffs compared to the regular season is at a completely different level. If you’re not ready to go, you get left behind. That’s just how good this league is.”

The 1st round playoff matchups remain undecided heading into the last weekend of the regular season, with Dalhousie being eliminated from contention.Read more »

Acadia hockey – a decade in review

As we enter 2020, let’s take a few minutes to look back on the closing decade for the Acadia Axemen. A decade that saw the Axemen win an AUS championship, earn four appearances at the University Cup National tournament – including a bronze medal, 2 winners of the USports Player of the Year trophy for University Hockey in Canada, and 2 Axemen players awarded the Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation.

The Axemen have been in the AUS playoffs every year in the 2010-2019 decade, most years being a top 4 seed. In 2013-14, the Axemen achieved AUS playoff success as they hoisted their only AUS championship of the decade.

That 2013-14 AUS championship led the team to their first UCup appearance of the 2010’s; however, they dropped 4-2 and 3-2 losses to Windsor and Saskatchewan. The following year the Axemen returned to the National Tournament in the new single knockout format, losing to UQTR is overtime in their first game.

Acadia made national news at the 2016-17 University Cup, as they came in to the 8-team tournament seeded #8 and were matched up against the #1 ranked powerhouse Alberta Golden Bears. The Axemen upset the favorites with a 4-1 win to send the Golden Bears home empty handed. After dropping a 3-0 setback to UNB, the Axemen defeated AUS rival StFX 7-3 to win the bronze medal on the National stage. The following year in 2017-18, Acadia returned to UCup to face a rematch against Alberta, and this time the Golden Bears defeated the Axemen in a high scoring game 8-6.

Perhaps most impressive in terms of personal accolades, were the two standout seasons offensively from Acadia forwards which earned them the honor of top players in the Nation. Andrew Clark’s 2011-12 season was a thing of beauty, as he led the AUS in scoring, was named 1st Team All-Canadian, 1st Team AUS all-star, and awarded the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as CIS player of the year. The following year in 2012-13, Clark was named a 1st Team AUS All-star, and 2nd team all-Canadian. Two years later, Acadia’s Liam Heelis had an outstanding season, as he too was awarded the Player of the year trophy for the USports (formerly CIS) hockey, was named 1st Team All-Canadian, and 1st Team AUS All-star.Read more »

Acadia sits atop of AUS Standings at the Holiday Break

With 18 games in the books and the first half of the year complete, the Acadia Axemen sit on top of the ultra competitive AUS men’s hockey conference with a 14-4 record. Many a night in the first half, the Axemen roster consisted of 14 or 15 skaters – 9 forwards and 5 defenceman; with two of those forwards often being defenceman playing out of their normal positions.

Despite the Axemen losing a total of 59 man games in the first half of the year, which could have been an easy way to excuse a bad first half, the Axemen refused to use a short bench as an excuse, instead they dug in deeper and rose to the moment every night.

After losing the first game to U de M Aigles Bleus on home ice, 5-2 to open the season, the Axemen then reeled off 9 straight wins. With each win their confidence built, and their strength came in playing as a team, outworking their opponents, capitalizing on chances, and backed by great goaltending. The Axemen then faced some mid first half struggles, dropping 3 of 4 games, before going back on a four-game win streak to close out the 1st half.

In looking back at the first half of the season, Acadia Head Coach Darren Burns was happy with his team’s result saying, “Our staff was very happy with our first half. In knowing we are hosting the nationals planning started close to two years ago, so we knew we were going to experience some growing pains last year in preparation, we feel as a team we have made a lot of progress over the last 18 months. It’s a positive to see the players commitment showing in the first half results.”

Looking at the different aspects of the Axemen game over the first 18 games, their powerplay is vastly improved over last year. At this point last year, the Axemen were desperate for answers as their powerplay struggled mightily, however this year, they have clipped along at a 22.8% conversion, good for 2nd best in the AUS, trailing only UNB’s 30%.Read more »