Coach Burns shares off-season insight

Photo credit: Peter Oleskevich – PJO Photography

As June comes to a close, the Acadia Axemen are midway through their off-season and preparations continue for the upcoming 2022-23 season. We caught up with Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns to catch up on the program happenings throughout the spring and summer months:


Q: It has been a couple months since you hosted UCup at Acadia, reflect on what that experience meant for the team and for the community.


A: The university cup experience was excellent for our players. After the last two years it was great for them to experience true crowds and the buzz for hockey here in the Valley. As you know the following here is unlike any other in U Sports. It’s a continuation of the major junior experience for these players because the team is also entrenched in community. Also, alumni representation was very high. I really hope the excitement of the event will continue to bring people in the building this year.


Q: You’re in the midst of a large recruiting off-season. Let us know where you are in the process.


A: We are very happy with where we are at in the recruiting process, and we feel we have added many new key pieces. We are still active in the process as we had quite a high turnover, with players leaving for pro last year. We are excited about our additions, but the work is not done.


Q: With the current players and the new recruits in mind, what type of team will the Acadia Axemen be when the puck drops on October 5th for the 2022-23 season?


A: We feel we will be a very hard-working team, who will be able to play a strong defensive game. We needed to upgrade the offensive component to our game and playing on a big ice surface it’s crucial to be able to skate. These are key elements for us. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what type of team we will be; however, we think it’s crucial that work ethic and passion needs to be our staple.


Q: The Axemen summer hockey camps are on the horizon, share what those camps mean to you and the players who help to run the camps?


A: It’s hard to believe, but our hockey camps will be starting in just a few weeks, in late July. These are crucial for our team and give our players an opportunity to be together and work with youth in the community. An education outside the classroom I think you could say. Enrolment is very high, and I think this is due to the excellent support we get from the community, our players commitment, and most of all Associate Coach Kris MacDonald and his tireless commitment.


Q: The annual Harvest Wealth Friends of Acadia Hockey Golf Scramble has officially sold out, what does the support of so many Valley businesses and professionals mean to the hockey program?


A: Our Harvest Wealth Friends of Acadia Golf Scramble has become a staple for our program. It is sold out again this year and it just shows the support we get from our major sponsor and so many other businesses in this community. It’s crucial for our program and a great event to bring players and community together. This is another great example of the tremendous support we get from the Valley community.


Q: After 2 years of ‘pandemic hockey’, explain the buzz of hopefully a ‘normal’ season this year?


A: We are very excited in preparing for the upcoming season. After the past two years of fragmentation. It is going to be incredible to prepare for this season. I know our team is excited. Unfortunately, last season didn’t come close to meeting our standards as a program. This falls solely on me. I personally look forward to getting started. Our hockey alumni, fans and university deserve elite performance. We’ve discussed this as a team in April. This off-season has been one of anticipation for a chance to prove ourselves.

Thanks to Acadia Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns for catching us up on everything Axemen this off-season.

Take advantage of our Early Bird Pricing and get your 2022-23 Acadia Axemen hockey season tickets today. Get your tickets for all 15 regular season home games at the Andrew H. McCain Arena here:


Axemen add 6’6″ WHL alumnus forward

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native, Cole Nagy to the program this fall.

Over 4 seasons in the WHL, the 6’6” forward played in 130 regular season games, notching 64 points. Cole first suited up with the Prince Albert Raiders for 2 games 2018-19 and returned to the team the next season to play in 25 games before being traded to the Swift Current Broncos where he would play the next 2 ½ seasons. This past season was his best statistical season, with 34 points in 48 games. In 2020-21 the WHL played a shortened season in a bubble, where Nagy had 16 points in 23 games.


As to why he chose Acadia, Cole said, “I’ve only heard good things about Acadia, and after talking to the coaching staff I felt like it is the best fit for me moving forward with academics and hockey. I really like the small town feel, where everyone knows everyone, and I’m excited to get started.”


Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns sees Nagy as a key addition noting, “Cole is going to be an invaluable addition to our team. We believe he is going to give us much needed size up the middle and is a very good face off man. He will provide good net front presence on the powerplay and is a very good penalty killer. We believe he is a player who will continue to grow his game in this league. His leadership qualities will also be a huge asset on and off the ice.”


Nagy described what Axemen fans can expect to see from him on ice this face saying, “I am a hard-working 200 foot player that takes pride in the small details of the game.”

Axemen add WHL alumnus forward

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Corson Hopwo to the hockey program this fall.

Corson hails from Victoria, BC, and playing his junior career in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The 5’11” forward racked up 106 points over 201 regular season games, including 47 goals.

Hopwo was drafted by the Tigers in the 7th round of the 2016 WHL draft, and joined the Tigers for one game in 2017-18. He would return to the Tigers for 3 1/2 more seasons, with his best statistical season being in the 2020-21 season, which was shortened due to the Covid pandemic. In that season Corson, while wearing the ‘A’ for Medicine Hat, scored 22 points, including 14 goals in just 23 games. Midway through last season, the Lethbridge Hurricanes made a trade to add Hopwo, where he added 10 points in 31 games.

We caught up with Corson on the news of his commitment and asked why Acadia was his choice of Universities to play for, he said, “I chose Acadia because I felt like it suited my situation perfectly. Firstly, the aspect of having smaller class sizes and being more personal with your professors really spoke to me; while playing hockey I wasn’t taking any university courses so being able to have that relationship and connection to the professors was a big factor! Secondly, the hockey program seemed very professional. The facilities, coaching staff and everything in-between are all so top tier and with still having a goal to sign a pro contract, I felt that choosing Acadia would help me fulfill that goal.”

Coach Darren Burns likes the addition of Hopwo to his squad for the upcoming season saying, “We were extremely impressed with Corson during the recruiting process. He has an excellent knowledge of the game and comes from a strong hockey background. He is a very intelligent player who skates extremely well. We feel his quickness and hockey smarts will help him make the jump to AUS hockey and help provide offence for our team.”

Hopwo says, “Axemen fans can expect to see a hard working, competitive, skilled 200 foot player that likes to chip in on the offensive when he can. I strive to be responsible in the d-zone first; however, I love playing in the o-zone as well. With that being said I still have tons to work on and love the challenge of getting better. ”

With the 2022-23 regular schedule being recently released, the Axemen’s first regular season game will take place on October 5th, in Halifax as they face the Dalhousie Tigers.

Acadia adds former Erie Otter Co-Captain

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Brendan Sellan to the program this fall.

Hailing from Bolton, Ontario, Brendan played his four years of junior hockey in the OHL, with the Erie Otters, and served as the team Co-Captain this past season. In 193 regular season games, he had 82 points, including a career high 20 goals and 40 points in 66 games in 2021-22. The OHL did not play games in 2020-21 due to the pandemic.

We asked Brendan, “Why Acadia?” and he said, “What made me choose Acadia is the rich history the school and hockey program has. As well as the small town feel of the school coming from a small town myself. Another big thing for me was the number of players coming out of Acadia and moving on to the pro ranks, coming here will help me advance my hockey and school career immensely.”

Axemen head coach Darren Burns sees Sellan as a key addition to the team saying, “Brendan is a player who can check a lot of boxes for a coach. He plays a high tempo game, with a very strong work ethic and exudes great leadership qualities. He is a player who has shown he can play a strong defensive game, but create offence as well, because of his intelligence level. These are all characteristics needed to succeed in our league. His desire and accountability will make him a great addition to our program.”

Sellan is excited about the opportunity to play in front of the hometown Axemen crowd saying, “Fans can expect a guy that comes in every night ready to do whatever it takes to win, no matter what it is. I am a 200-foot player that prides myself in playing in the defensive zone just as much as the offensive zone. I think I have a good hockey IQ and can see the ice well, making plays when needed.”

Former OHL Oshawa Generals netminder commits to Axemen

The Acadia Axemen hockey program is proud to welcome Zachary Paputsakis to the team this fall. Paputsakis, a 6’3” goalie from Rockland, Ontario, joins the Axemen after spending the past 3 years with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He played in 55 games over that span, going 18-19-7 with a 3.25 Goals Against Average and a .903 save percentage. The OHL did not play any games in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


We asked Zach about his decision to commit to the Acadia, he said, “I chose Acadia because I wanted to play for a top notch hockey program as well as get a great education and Acadia offered both of those. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Acadia and I can’t wait to get down there and experience everything that Acadia and the east coast has to offer.”


When asked to describe his style of play in net, Paputsakis said, “I would describe myself as a big goalie who uses my size to my advantage, has good hockey IQ, reads the play well and uses my athleticism to move well post to post.”


Zach will join Brandon, Manitoba’s Max Paddock to form a formidable tandem in the Acadia crease for the future years with Paddock entering just his second season this fall.


Check out this highlight reel save from Paputsakis against Kingston on February 27, 2022:


Axemen head coach Darren Burns added, “We are eager to have Zach join the program. We know he is an extremely competitive and focused goalie, who will continue to improve as a player. His focus and maturity during the recruiting process quickly made us realize he is a great fit for our team. We believe his competitiveness will be a great injection for us moving forward.”


Paputsakis becomes the third recruit for the Axemen upcoming season, with forwards Bailey Peach and Liam Kidney being announced throughout this past season.

Corneil nets 3 goals and adds assist in Acadia win

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – It was a cold Saturday night in Wolfville, but the Acadia Axemen (7-13-1) were hot, coming off a close 3-2 overtime shootout loss to the No. 1 ranked UNB last night, as they beat the Moncton Aigles Bleus (5-15-2) by a score of 6-3.

Subway First Star of the Game Johnny Corneil accounted for half of the Axemen’s goals on the night, as he potted a natural hat trick in the second period.

“It was a full team effort tonight. We have been preparing for this weekend and a tough loss last night against UNB, but we were so ready to come in tonight and we didn’t let up. We wanted to win,” said Corneil after the game.

When asked whether he has ever scored a natural hat trick, Corneil replied “I don’t think I have. I think I have only had one hat trick since junior started.”

Nick Deakin-Poot grabbed two assists and third star of the night honours for the Axemen.

It was an even-handed first period, with both teams firing 12 shots on net.

Moncton put up the first goal of the game when the second star of the night Denis Toner threw a shot on net from the face-off circle that fooled the Axemen goaltender Max Paddock.

Acadia came back with a pair of goals in the first from Keegan Stevenson and Merrick Rippon.

Stevenson took a pass from Jack Flaman, deked to his backhand, and slid the puck into the open net.

Rippon gave his team the lead with 6:03 remaining in the frame, jamming the puck in on a mad scramble in front of the Moncton net.

The second period saw an offensive onslaught from the Axemen, as they peppered 16 shots on net with 3 goals to show for their work.

Johnny Corneil netted a natural hat trick for Acadia in the frame with one coming on a backhand in tight, the second coming on a wrist shot in front from a feed by Nick Deakin-Poot who was working behind the Moncton net, and the final coming on a slapshot from the point.

Corneil’s were the only three goals of the period.

Moncton mounted an unsuccessful comeback in the third, scoring two from Olivier-Luc Hache and Vincent Deslauriers.

Hache scored on a soft wrist shot in front, while Deslauriers ripped a wrister into the top right corner of the net before getting dropped by an Axemen defender that led to a minor fight.

Stevenson iced the game for Acadia – his second of the night – after coming in on the left side of the offensive zone before wiring a shot into the top left corner to make it 6-3.

Paddock stopped 32 of 35 shots on the night, while his Aigles Bleus counterpart Etienne Montpetit turned aside 30 of 36 shots.

Acadia returns to play Wednesday, Mar. 2 at Saint Mary’s before coming home to wrap up their regular season against UPEI next Saturday. Moncton will host Dalhousie and StFX next Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Puck drop for both all games at 7 pm.

Provided by Josh Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications

Paddock with 38 saves in OT Shootout Loss

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – It was a David versus Goliath match-up in Wolfville on Friday night, as the sixth-placed Acadia Axemen (6-14-1) fell 3-2 in a shootout loss to the U SPORTS No. 1 ranked UNB Reds (19-2-0) who hold the best win percentage in the country in U SPORTS men’s hockey team.

The Axemen held their own with a 2-0 lead to start the game. However, the Reds mounted a comeback that was capped off by a shootout winner from former Axemen defenceman Ross MacDougall, who netted a nifty backhander to get the win.

Acadia goalie, and second star of the night, Max Paddock put on a clinic as he turned aside 40 of 42 shots on the night, including an incredible sprawling desperation save in his crease in OT that saved a sure goal.

“Everybody came to play again, just like last weekend. We’ve shown the top two teams we can play with them. It’s great to see a group of guys come back the second semester to really gel the team and be able to compete with the best of them,” noted Paddock after the game.

Despite trailing 12-6 in shots, the Axemen held a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period.

Rookie forward Keegan Stevenson opened the scoring thanks to Nick Deakin-Poot’s work in the offensive zone.

Stevenson scored on his own rebound – off a pass from Deakin-Poot – while falling on his stomach.

Peyton Hoyt doubled up the score for Acadia on a broken play that led to a 2-on-1. Hoyt took a pass from Jordy Stallard and slid a wrist shot in for a 2-0 lead.

UNB continued their offensive barrage in the second period with a whopping 21 shots on net.

Jason Willms slid the puck across the ice past Paddock on a scramble play to make it 2-1.

UNB forward and Subway First Star of the Night Mark Rassell nabbed a one-timer on the power-play from the edge of the crease to tie the game at 2-2, which is where things stood going into the third period.

Neither team was able to capitalize in the final frame of the game, despite a number of odd-man rushes for both teams.

UNB dominated the overtime period, holding possession of the puck for the first 1:30 of the extra frame. While both teams had numerous chances, they required a shootout to find a winner.

UNB goalie Rylan Parenteau stopped 15 of 17 shots on the night, while Acadia’s Paddock was stellar in the other end.

Acadia takes to the ice again at home Saturday, Feb. 26 to take on the Moncton Aigles Bleus, while the Reds travel to Saint Mary’s to take on the 8-11 Huskies.

Provided by Josh Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications

Corneil and Stevenson with the Acadia tallies

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – AUS hockey was back in Wolfville for the first time since November 26, 2021, and in front of fans no less, on Saturday night. Sadly, the Axemen were unable to capitalize on their early lead in the game and ended up falling 3-2 to the StFX X-Men.

It was a strong night for the goalies, as Max Paddock stopped 25 of 28 shots for Acadia while his StFX counterpart and Subway Third Star of the Game Joseph Raaymakers turned aside 27 of 29 shots.

Despite chances from both sides – including a strong power-play from the Axemen and a partial breakaway from X-Men forward Matthew Phillip – the game remained scoreless heading into the second frame with Acadia holding a 14-8 lead in shots.

It was another strong showing for the goaltenders in the second period, as they turned aside a number of chances. However, both teams managed to get one on the board before the end of the period.

Acadia broke onto the scoreboard first with a marker from the Subway Second Star of the Game Johnny Corneil with 6:46 left in the frame.

Corneil stepped into the slot, took a pass from Keegan Stevenson, and wired a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net to make it 1-0.

“It was a battle for the whole 60 minutes and both teams had about two and a half months to get ready for this game. Lots of time off and both teams were itching to get back on the ice in a game atmosphere,” noted Corneil after the game.

“We’ve been talking a lot about detail and structure for the last two weeks, and attention to detail was a big part of it but also work ethic,” said Corneil. “That was my main focus and kinda relaying that to some of the younger guys as well.”

StFX responded late in the second with a deflection goal in front of the net from William Bower.

Bower notched his goal by nabbing a rebound off the Axemen goalie and then tapping the puck out of the air to tie the game at 1-1.

At the end of the second, Acadia held a 22-17 shot lead.

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March 31st thru April 3rd 

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – U SPORTS announced today that it is moving the 2022 Cavendish Farms University Cup men’s hockey championship to Wolfville, NS to the Acadia University Campus.

“Due to scheduling conflicts, U SPORTS, Acadia University and Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEAtlantic) have chosen to move the 2022 Cavendish Farms University Cup men’s hockey championship from Scotiabank Centre the campus of Acadia University,” said Dick White, Interim U SPORTS CEO. “We know that the Town of Wolfville will do a tremendous job hosting the event for all participants.”

“The pandemic has taught us all that we have to learn to be flexible and adapt and while our original plan of hosting the U SPORTS Men’s Hockey National Championship in Halifax at Scotiabank Centre is no longer an option due to the required date change, we are extremely excited to be able to bring some of the highest levels of hockey in the country to Acadia University, the Town of Wolfville, and the Annapolis Valley region,” said Acadia University’s Director of Athletics, Brian Finniss.

“Acadia Athletics has one of the strongest and most passionate fan bases in the country and being able to bring this championship to them and to the community is something that our partner SEAtlantic, staff and the organizing committee are very excited for. It is going to be a great weekend in Wolfville with the best university Men’s Hockey teams in the country on the ice at Acadia University,” added Finniss.

“The most recent University Cup date and location changes guarantee that hockey fans in the Valley will have the opportunity to enjoy an unparalleled level of University hockey, the likes of which has never been seen previously. The eight best men’s varsity teams from across Canada will compete for the honour of raising the David Johnson University Cup in Wolfville. With Acadia as the host team, it doesn’t get any more home for the Axemen,” noted Chris Larsen, President of Sports Entertainment Atlantic.


The updated 2022 U SPORTS championship schedule is listed below:


Sport Host / Venue Date Original date/Host
Wrestling Saskatchewan Mar 24-25 CANCELLED
Swimming Laval Mar 24-26 Feb 25-27 / Laval
Women’s hockey UPEI Mar 24-27 – No change
Women’s volleyball Calgary Mar 25-27 – No change
Men’s volleyball Manitoba Mar 25-27 – No change
Track & Field UNB @ Saint John Mar 31-Apr 2 Mar 10-12 / UNB @ Saint John
Men’s hockey Acadia / Wolfville, NS Mar 31-Apr 3 Mar 17-20 / Halifax, NS
Women’s basketball Queen’s Mar 31-Apr 3 Mar 10-13 / Queen’s
Men’s basketball Alberta Apr 1-3 Mar 11-13 / Alberta

Note: event schedules are subject to change due to COVID-19 and conference participation

U SPORTS will announce the championship and broadcast schedules in the coming weeks.

Acadia University and SEAtlantic announcement of ticket sales will follow.