Hockey Operations & Staff

Head Coach – Darren Burns

Darren Burns enters his 17th season at the helm of the Acadia Axemen hockey team.

This past season, Burns guided the Axemen to a third place finish in the AUS standings. During the 2015-16 season, the Axemen were ranked No. in the CIS Top Ten ranking for two weeks and were in the Top Ten all season long.

Burns was recently selected as an assistant coach for the CIS All-Star squad that played two exhibition games in early December 2015 against the World Juniors Team Canada.

The 2014-15 season was the second consecutive CIS championship tournament that the Axemen attended. After posting a 20-5-3 record and finishing second in the AUS standings, the Axemen advanced to the AUS finals after eliminating the Saint Mary’s Huskies in a gruelling five game series. Acadia fell short in repeating as the AUS championships with a three game series loss to UNB, but still advanced to the University Cup hosted by StFX in Halifax, N.S.

In 2014-15, the Axemen finished second in the AUS standings with a 21-4-3 record and captured a semi-final bye. In the semi-finals, Acadia beat Moncton in four games of a five game series and did the same in the AUS Championship series with a four game best of five win over the Saint Mary’s Huskies and found themselves off to Saskatoon for the University Cup – the first time since the 2005-2006 season.

Burns, who captained the Acadia in his senior year as an Axemen, is the second longest serving coach in the AUS. In his 14 seasons as head coach, his teams have not made the playoffs only three times – those in his first three years rebuilding the Axemen. With a 235-171-35-8 regular season and post season record, Darren has made the post season 12 years in a row within one of the toughest university hockey conferences in the country.

Burns has played an important role in the development of local Annapolis Valley hockey players, consulting in the creation of the Acadia Minor Hockey Association. Acadia Axemen summer hockey camps have also grown to offer an assortment of special camps that have assisted in the development of local and provincial players.

Darren was an assistant coach with the Team Canada entry at the World University Games in Torino, Italy, which captured gold in 2006/2007. Darren was named the 2005 Atlantic University Sport Coach of the Year and 2005 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Coach of the Year.

A native of Brockville, ON, Burns played for the Axemen from 1990-95 and was a member of the 1992-93 National Championship winning squad. Darren also won a second CIS Championship as an assistant with the Axemen in 1995-96. Burns resides in Port Williams, NS, with his wife Lana, son Brady and daughter Allie.

Assistant Coach – Mike Alcoe

A retired school teacher, Mike Alcoe has been with the Hockey Axemen as a coach for 28 seasons. Mike’s experience with AUS hockey is a tremendous asset to the team and he plays a significant role in managing various aspects of the defense.

His passion and competitiveness has assisted in building the tradition of Acadia Hockey. A very knowledgeable defense coach, Mike has won Two National Championships in his time at Acadia. His experience and track record as a winning coach provides great stability for the Hockey Axemen.

Mike was once a member of the Axemen hockey program from 1976-1980 and served as an assistant with former coaches Don Wells, Tom Coolen, Mark Hanneman, and current Athletic Director Kevin Dickie.

He resides in Port Williams with wife Rebecca, son Mitchell and daughter Brooke

Assistant Coach – Mark Richards

Mark, a teacher by trade, works with the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board.  Mark is in his 15th year as an assistant with the Axemen and spent two seasons prior to Acadia with the Saint Mary’s Hockey Program.

He has become a very important part of the Axemen coaching staff in managing the bench. His desire to learn and passion for the game combined with an uncanny ability to read the game has been very important in the resurgence of the Acadia Hockey Program.

Mark resides in Port Williams with wife Sonia and son’s James and Matthew.

Assistant Coach – Kris MacDonald

A native of Orwell PEI, Kris is no stranger to the Annapolis Valley and Acadia University. He played two seasons in the QMJHL with the PEI Rocket and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and finished up his junior career in the Maritime Junior League with the Summerside Western Capitals. He then went on to play three seasons for the Acadia Axemen.

Known as a tireless worker on and off the ice, his time spent playing served very beneficial for his future in the game. He parlayed his high hockey IQ into an immediate career in coaching. He spent two seasons as the Midget AAA coach for the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds and the next year as an Assistant for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL.

Heading into his 3rd season with the Axemen, he has had an immediate impact with the team and has also helped elevate the development of youth hockey in the Acadia Minor Hockey Organization.


aca_0174Statistics and Analytics- Rees Giacchetta

Rees Giacchetta is entering his first season with the Axemen doing statistics and analytics for our coaches. Originally from small town Priddis Alberta near Calgary, Giacchetta previously spent the last 2 seasons with The Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. The second year is currently studying for his Bachelor of Business Administration degree.


aca_0175Equipment Manager- Peter Sheehan

Peter Sheehan is entering his 37th season with the Acadia Axemen. He started working with the team at the age of 10 as the Stickboy for 16 years, then has been promoted to Equipment Manager for the past 20 seasons. Being raised in Wolfville, Sheehan has won two C.I.A.U. Championships with the team in ’93 and ’96. He also has worked with Acadia Athletics for all sports helping and volunteering.


aca_0176Equipment Manager- Will Pappas

Will Pappas comes from Etobicoke Ontario, near Toronto and has been with the Axemen for 3 years. While with the Axemen Pappas has being working hard to get his degree for Community Development.




img_9044-1Senior Athletic Therapist- Kaitlyn Higgins

Kaitlyn Higgins has been with the Axemen hockey team for 2 seasons now. She originates from small town New Glasgow Nova Scotia and currently is in her 4th year of receiving a degree in Kinesiology.



img_9043-1Junior Student Athletic Therapist- Jessica Lohnes

Also getting a degree in Kinesiology, Jessica Lohnes enters her first season working alongside Higgins. Lohnes is in her 3rd year of studies at Acadia University.




len-hawley-jpg Manager, Development and Marketing- Len Hawley

Len spent over 25 years in the radio industry before joining the Athletics Department team. While working with AVR Radio, Len was the “voice of Acadia hockey” since the station began broadcasting Axemen hockey games in the late 80’s.

Len’s love for hockey and the Axemen extended beyond the broadcasting of Acadia games and has included his chairmanship of the Annual Axemen Hockey Celebrity Dinner and other vital fundraising efforts for the hockey team over the last three decades.

chrisrichardsssbc-copySocial Media & Website Communications- Chris Richards

Chris has been the architect & driving force behind and the AxemenHockey social media accounts for the past 9 years. From in game tweets, to game recaps, to writing Valley community hockey stories, Chris has provided the coverage for Acadia Hockey. An Acadia University alumnus of 2001, he has a passion for tying the Axemen’s storied hockey history together with the Acadia team of today.