Category: Team Stories
Axemen top scorer returns for fourth year
WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Last spring, returning for a fourth season with the hockey Axemen was not in the cards for Stephen Harper. After graduating with his business degree in May, the 24-year-old Harper had expected to be elsewhere this fall, possibly playing hockey at a high level.
“It’s crazy sometimes how things change,” Harper said in a Sept. 30 interview. He was invited to the Buffalo Sabres training camp and rookie camp and “felt I did okay,” but “the right offer didn’t happen.”
He chose the option of returning to Acadia and taking “a lighter course load. I had thought about going elsewhere, but I’ve been here for three years, and I love it here.”
Since arriving at Acadia in the fall of 2016, Harper has always been impressed with “how big hockey is here,” and especially how the community embraces the Acadia student-athletes. “This program,” he said, “has a fan base very similar to major junior.”
Admittedly, Acadia hosting the University Cup in Halifax at season’s end was a factor in his decision. “At the end of the day, it was a no-brainer,” not to mention a win-win scenario. “Why not come back?”
With his return, Harper, Acadia’s leading scorer the last two seasons and the 2017-2018 AUHC scoring champion, believes he “can be a leader and role model” for his younger teammates, many of whom are in their first or second years.
“I see myself as a team leader,” he says. “I try to lead by example. I’m kind of low-key in the dressing room, but I believe my best asset as a leader is my play on the ice. It’s important to do the right things for the younger players, whether or not you’re wearing a letter (which Harper is this season).”Read more »
U SPORTS Men’s Hockey Championships at the Scotiabank Centre March 12 -15, 2020
Halifax, Nova Scotia (October 9th, 2019) –Sports & Entertainment Atlantic (S|E|A) and Acadia University are pleased to announce the U SPORTS Men’s Hockey Championships at the Scotiabank Centre from March 12 -15, 2020.Halifax Hockey fans will once again have the opportunity to cheer on the best University hockey teams in Canada. This will be the third time that U CUP is hosted in Halifax. This year’s upcoming U CUP hosts, the Acadia Axemen, will be one of eight teams competing for the national title, showcasing the best talent in Halifax!
“This is our fourth year in a row hosting a U SPORTS National Championship. Our Alumni and fans in Annapolis Valley are passionate about hockey and our team has been a perennial top 10 program in the country so hosting this championship is a perfect fit.” Kevin Dickie, Acadia’s Athletic Director.
Tournament ticket packages include tickets to all 8 games and are on sale now through Ticket Atlantic.Premium seating between the blue lines are available for $150.We have also added new seating options for packages in the lower bowl priced at Adult $125, Senior $100, Student/Youth $75 for the corners and ends.All packages include HST but are subject to a Ticket Atlantic processing fees.They can be purchased in person at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, by phone at (902) 451-1221, or online at ticketatlantic.com. For Corporate Seating and VIP Options, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more »
Recruit to join Axemen in 2020-21
The Axemen aren’t waiting until the offseason to get commitments from future recruits. Tyler Hinam, who was a QMJHL and CHL Memorial Cup Champion last season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, has announced he will join the Acadia Axemen starting in the 2020-21 season.
The Cole Harbour native, has spent his entire junior career with the Huskies, after playing two years of major midget with the Halifax Macs. Through his first 3 seasons in the QMJHL, Hinam scored 97 points in 182 regular season games, and he is off to a strong start this season with 5 points in just 2 regular season games. The 6’1 right winger will add strength, skill and intensity to the Axemen lineup.
Hinam was excited with finalizing his decision to join the Axemen saying, “I chose Acadia for a number of reasons. I really wanted to play closer to home after being away for the past 4 years, they have a great hockey program, it’s a great school academically, and it has that small school environment. All those reasons made choosing Acadia a really easy decision.”
Perhaps also aiding in his decision to choose the Axemen, Tyler’s father, Mark, is an Acadia University alumnus.
Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns said this on announcing Hinam’s commitment, “We are extremely excited to be able to add Tyler to our team for next season; he is a proven winner with a tremendous attitude and work ethic. His leadership abilities will make him a great addition to our team; his passion and mind for the game are second to none.”
When asked what he would bring to the Acadia lineup next season, Tyler added, “I think I’ll be able to bring a hard, physical, 2-way game and try to chip-in offensively when I can.”
The Acadia Axemen kick off the AUS regular season this Friday at 7pm, as they host the U de M Aigles Bleus at the Andrew H. McCain Arena in Wolfville.
Axemen look to Analytics for Added Edge
The Acadia Axemen are hard at work on the ice, preparing for the upcoming 2019-2020 AUS campaign; a season that will see the team host the USports National Championship in March, in Halifax. But the hockey program isn’t just relying on physical and mental readiness this season, they are also looking at analytics as a potential added edge, in the ultra competitive AUS conference.
The team will be tracking various statistics and events that take place within the game, which will directly result in post game reports that will be discussed among the coaching staff. While the data will be looked at on a team basis, the main objective is on player development and giving the players an added piece of information to work with, on the ice.
Acadia will be working closely on the analytics this season with Brett Dickie. Brett has helped out with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s last season while working on his Masters of Sports Management at uOttawa. In addition, he worked with Kinduct, a sports analytics company, in Halifax this past summer.
Dickie says of his work, “Obviously in today’s game, if you’re not conducting some sort of advanced statistics or looking at additional information in any capacity, then you probably have some catching up to do. I’m very excited to work with the coaching staff and how we can incorporate data and analytics towards the everyday decision-making process, both on a team and individual level.”
Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns is excited about the additional information from the analytics, saying, “We are very excited to add Brett to our staff. He has worked very hard in his studies of analytics. There is no question his passion for the game will be a huge help this year and ensuring we are exhausting every avenue of helping our players improve and our team get better.“
Acadia takes the ice for their first pre-season game on Tuesday, September 17th in Wolfville as they face the Dalhousie Tigers at 7pm at the Andrew H. McCain Arena.
Offensive Prowess, Grit & Leadership
The Acadia Axemen will be hosting the USports men’s hockey University Cup this March in Halifax, and their lineup received a major bolster with the news of the return of defenceman Liam Maaskant and forward Stephen Harper.
Both players graduated this past April, but will be returning to Acadia University in September, looking to complete some unfinished business, in their quest to take home the University Cup this spring.
Harper, who played his junior career in the OHL has been an offensive force in his 3 years with the Axemen, scoring 101 points in 86 games, plus 16 points in 16 AUS/USports playoff games. The Hamilton Ontario native led the AUS in scoring in 2017-18 with 46 points in 30 games. Stephen was named to the AUS All-Rookie Team in 2016-17, and was named AUS First Team All-Star & 2nd Team U Sports All Canadian in 2017-18.
Harper’s final status with Acadia for the upcoming season will depend on the results of attending the Buffalo Sabres camp in September.
Coach Darren Burns shared the team’s excitement saying, “We are very excited about Stephen’s decision to return to Acadia. He is a premier player in USports hockey and obviously he will play a key part in a national championship year for us. We feel he will be an excellent leader on and off the ice. He is returning to the Buffalo Sabres camp in September and we know this will be pivotal step in earning a pro contract.”
Meanwhile, Maaskant, who also played in the OHL through junior, and served as the Axemen captain last season, will return and likely where the ‘C’ again this upcoming season. In 104 career regular season USports games over his 4 years with the Axemen, Liam notched 26 points while posting 362 penalty minutes, and 3 playoff points in 21 AUS/USports playoff games. Maaskant will anchor the defensive corps once again for the Axemen; the 6’4 215lbs blueliner is know for making the other team keep their head on a swivel through the neutral zone or pay the price on the receiving end of a thunderous body check.
On Maaskant’s return, Coach Burns added, “We are very excited to have Liam returning this year. He is an incredible leader here at Acadia, and his leadership will be crucial this season. He has gotten better every season he has played at Acadia and is an outstanding shut down defender who is one of the toughest players to play against in our league. There is no question, we need what he brings to the rink everyday in our lineup.”