Atlantic Hockey Group & Axemen Hockey run Spring programs in Wolfville for over 15 years

The Atlantic Hockey Group and Axemen Hockey program are in the midst of completing another spring season in a partnership that was created over 15 years ago and continues to run stronger than ever.


“It’s been very special to say the least,” says Axemen Head Coach Darren Burns. “To watch this grow over the years and see how it has been such a positive partnership is tremendous.”


The idea for the local program came about when a few local families started to join spring hockey teams in Halifax, as it was the closest team in the Atlantic Hockey Group program.


“I had a parent in our local minor hockey system say, wouldn’t it be great if we could run something like this out of Acadia and I walked away from the conversation, saying why don’t we run something like this out of Acadia?” The newly formed Acadia Minor Hockey Association was growing quickly and this program took off in a flash. “It basically came down to making sure our kids in the Annapolis Valley have the same opportunities that kids have all over the country,” Burns said.

Thousands of people come to the Andrew H. McCain Arena over the course of the spring, as the rink is active every evening with practices, along with games on the weekends. “The benefits of this program branch out in so many different areas. First and foremost, it gives the kids an affordable option to play six to eight more weeks of hockey. Secondly, Valley families save hundreds of dollars because they avoid the costs of travelling and practice here in Wolfville. This allows kids the opportunity to not be in a vehicle as much, spend more time at home, freeing up time for playing other sports which is important. It gives kids the opportunity to make new friends and develop their skills, but more importantly develop and build their relationships. For coaches, it is an opportunity for development for them as well. It’s a program we are very proud of; Charlie Bourgeois and the Atlantic Hockey Group are first class, and their product is affordable. When you partner with a group like this you feel very good about what you are doing. He is an excellent hockey person and a great leader in the community.”


“This program is an excellent eye opener for so many to see what Acadia University is about as well,” Axemen Associate Coach Kris MacDonald says, “It’s pretty neat, as I am fortunate enough to work in the School of Kinesiology and numerous times, I’ve had a student say that they first came to Acadia when they played spring hockey here many years ago.


I personally love being at the rink or downtown on the weekends seeing all the energy. People get to see what Acadia and the town of Wolfville have to offer. The building is open during the day, so university students can play shinny hockey, there are public skates that continue, and parent-tot skates. Any time the arena and building can stay open everyone wins.”


“We are very fortunate to have this partnership with Atlantic Hockey Group”, added MacDonald, “we have been so closely intertwined with our community for decades; with so many local businesses supporting our celebrity hockey dinners, golf tournaments, sending their children to our hockey camps, and consistently being Axemen hockey season ticket holders; so it’s nice to see our local businesses benefit when people are in the Valley for our events, putting money back into the Valley economy, eating at their eateries and coffee shops, people from outside the Valley come to shop here all the time. It is cyclical for sure, it’s an opportunity for businesses to get something in return for their support of Acadia Axemen hockey and it’s no secret that the corporate sector of the Annapolis Valley is heavily relied upon by our program.”

The spring hockey programs also provide spin off jobs at the arena where many local youths continue to find employment by officiating the games and working the time clock, so it’s a great bonus for them as well.


Coach Burns concluded saying, “the Atlantic Hockey Group has been a long-established business and it benefits so many, it’s been around for a long time just like the Axemen Hockey program, so it’s easy to understand why we have strong synergy together.


At the end of the day, it checks so many positive boxes; our youth get more physical activity, Wolfville and Valley businesses benefit, and it exposes so many to our exceptional institution at Acadia University. Our hockey camps and our partnership with Atlantic Hockey Group is a big piece of our overall hockey program and we are very proud of what we’ve built and look forward to many more years creating opportunities and great experiences.”

WHL alumnus Ethan Ernst commits to Acadia

The Acadia Axemen are proud to welcome Weyburn, Saskatchewan’s Ethan Ernst to the hockey program this fall.


The 5’11” forward is a WHL alumnus of 5 years, spending his first three seasons with the Kelowna Rockets, which included the pandemic season in 2020-21.  He then moved on to the Tri-City Americans for his last 2 years where he had 24 points in 61 games in 2021-22 and a breakout offensive year last season with 63 points, including 32 goals in just 62 games; earning him the nod as the Tri-City Americans Offensive Player of the Year on the season. For his WHL career he played in 245 regular season games, notching 112 points.


Ernst decided on Acadia saying, “When Acadia reached out to me late in the season, I knew it was one of the top schools for me because of both the hockey and the education.  There was also a bit of a connection having played hockey previously with Brady Burns, so I knew a little bit about the school already. Once I got the opportunity to see the university and some of the guys showed me around the community, I knew it would be a great fit for me.”


Prior to his time in the WHL, Ethan won the Telus Cup Gold Medal with the Notre Dame Hounds U18 AAA in 2017-18.

He describes himself on the ice as “an offensive player who sees the ice well and can make plays; and this past season I found a scoring touch, which I’m hoping I can bring to this team next year.”


Coach Burns is very happy with the addition of Ernst saying, “We are very excited about adding Ethan to our team. We have followed him since his bantam season with the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan. Our familiarity with him as a person and a player makes this a perfect fit. We know his commitment as a player who loves the game. His integrity and work ethic growing up in Saskatchewan is something we value. He knows hard work and what is needed for a program to succeed. On the ice, his ability to shoot and create plays will translate very well in the AUS. He showed this past season that he will be a huge addition to our powerplay. His offensive instincts will be a huge asset for our program, and we look forward to helping him reach his goals here at Acadia.”


Ernst joins goaltender Thomas Couture as the announced recruits thus far for the Axemen for the upcoming season. Stay tuned for more announcements of new players committing to Acadia in the coming weeks!

A look back at the former Canadiens Captain’s career

Our Acadia Hockey Celebrity Dinner on June 22nd will feature Hockey Hall of Famer, Guy Carbonneau. A legend in the 80’s and 90’s for his defensive prowess, we wanted to look back on his career and accolades. To purchase your ticket(s), visit the Acadia Box office or online at!

Story Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

Guy Carbonneau played nineteen seasons in the NHL, claiming the Stanley Cup three times (Paul Bereswill/HHOF).

A three-time Stanley Cup champion, for two decades, Guy Carbonneau reinvented himself from a high-scoring junior into one of the National Hockey League’s premier defensive forwards of his era.

Carbonneau was born March 18, 1960. He was a scoring sensation during his four seasons of junior, playing with the Chicoutimi Saugeneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). By his third season, in 1978-79, he had scored 62 times and contributed 141 points. The following season, he earned a spot on the QMJHL Second All-Star Team after scoring 72 goals and 182 points. That season, he also served just six minutes in penalties. Carbonneau’s number 21 was later retired by the Chicoutimi franchise.

Curiously, Carbonneau was not chosen by an NHL team in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in 1979 after collecting 435 regular points in four QMJHL seasons. Instead, he was drafted in the second round, 44th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Carbonneau was quickly instructed that if he was going to make hockey a career, he had to learn to play in both ends of the rink. He spent two seasons with the American Hockey League affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, although he did get into two NHL games with the parent Canadiens during the 1980-81 season. He made his fulltime NHL debut during the 1982-83 season.

Guy won the Frank J. Selke Trophy three times in his career (Doug MacLellan/HHOF).

Carbonneau had learned his lessons well. Although he had been an offensive threat every time he stepped onto the ice in junior, his strong defensive work really established him as an NHL star. He helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1986, Guy’s first championship. His diligent work as a defensive forward drew the accolades of the Canadiens faithful, who chanted, “Guy! Guy!” every time he was on the ice. In 1987-88, Carbonneau earned the first of his three Frank Selke Memorial Trophies as the league’s top defensive forward. He earned a second consecutive Selke Trophy in 1988-89. By 1989-90, he was named captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

A third Selke Trophy came Carbonneau’s way following the 1991-92 season. In the spring of 1993, newly appointed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup to Guy Carbonneau after his Montreal Canadiens toppled the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

Guy Carbonneau receives the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman following game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in 1993 (Paul Bereswill/HHOF).

Don’t be deceived – while Carbonneau excelled in a defensive role, he hadn’t lost the hands that made him a scoring star in junior. In ten of his 12 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Carbonneau scored 15 or more goals. He enjoyed a career-best 26 goals in 1988-89 while his career-best point total of 57 was collected during the 1984-85 season.

Carbonneau wore the Montreal Canadiens jersey for 12 of his 19 NHL seasons (Doug MacLellan/HHOF).

After four seasons serving as captain of the Canadiens, prior to the 1994-95 season, Carbonneau was dealt to the St. Louis Blues, but it was his only season in Missouri. Before the following season, he was traded to the Dallas Stars where Guy spent the final five seasons of his NHL career. The Stars won and finished first overall in back-to-back seasons (1997-98 and 1998-99), earning the Presidents’ Trophy. In 1999, Carbonneau was part of a third Stanley Cup championship when the Stars won that franchise’s first championship. They almost made it a second, going to the Stanley Cup Final again in 1999-2000, but Dallas was defeated by the New Jersey Devils this time. Guy Carbonneau concluded his 18-season playing career following the 1999-2000 season, having played 1,318 regular season NHL games and scoring 260 goals and adding 403 assists for 663 points. In playoff action, Carbonneau scored 38 goals and 55 assists for 93 points in 234 post-season contests.

While the NHL had recognized Guy Carbonneau’s defensive prowess three times as winner of the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy, in 2005, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League created the Guy Carbonneau Trophy (Trophee Guy Carbonneau) to be awarded annually to the QMJHL player judged to be the best defensive forward.

Following his playing career, Guy was also a coach and assistant coach with Montreal from 2006 to 2009. Carbonneau was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on the 18th of November 2019. He is now a successful TV commentator and analyst.

  • 1318 games played in the NHL
  • 663 points, including 260 goals
  • Two-time winner of the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens (1986,1993)
  • One-time winner of the Stanley Cup with the Stars (1999)
  • Winner of the Frank-Selke Trophy in 1988, 1989 and 1992
  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

Coach Burns looks forward to the Axemen off-season initiatives

2022-23 was the year we were finally back to some sense of normalcy in AUS men’s hockey, after the Acadia hosted University Cup was cancelled before the Axemen played a game in March of 2020, a cancelled 2020-21 season, and a fragmented season in 2021-22, it was finally back to business as usual this season.


The Axemen welcomed 9 new faces into the lineup in September as they looked to lay the building blocks for the program’s future. Their first half of the season saw some growing pains as they entered the holiday break going 5-10-2-1, and saw the team begin to gel, as many of the players began to get acclimated to the speed and compete level of the AUS.


Acadia head coach Darren Burns said this about his team’s growth, “We were extremely happy with our team’s progress over the season. In early September we made our team very aware that we were not going to use age as an excuse. We felt this was an extremely important recruiting year for our program and it was crucial that we brought in players who loved the game and were committed to do what our program asks of them. It’s not a secret, if you are going to be competitive as an individual and team in AUS hockey, you better compete and love the game; it’s the only way you have any chance of succeeding especially if you are a young team. We felt this group of players demonstrated this from day one.”


The Axemen began to turn a corner in the second half, as they earned 12 points, going 6-6 not only making the playoffs, but moving into 5th place in the standings by passing the Aigles Bleus in the final game of the regular season. The Axemen were slotted to play the StFX X-Men in the 1st round of the playoffs, in a best of 3 series. The X-Men were a team, that by and large, were considered a potential team to make it to the UCup tournament this season, and boasted the top 3 regular season scorers in the conference. The underdog Axemen knocked off the X-Men in 2 straight games to win the series and move on to the 2nd round. In the 2nd round, they faced the Saint Mary’s Huskies who finished 2nd in the AUS, and were ranked in the USports top 10 in the country throughout the year. After a decisive loss in the 1st game, Acadia gave SMU all they could handle in the next 3 games, including a 2-1 double overtime win in Wolfville for the Axemen, to save off elimination in game 3, before finally bowing out to the Huskies in a hard fought game 4.


We asked Coach Burns about the team’s 2nd half and the importance of the team’s playoff compete level, he said, “The second half success and playoffs helped, in that it showed the players that hard work and commitment and belief in a plan and structure will bring positive results. We don’t want winning one round in the playoffs to be our standard. Some folks questioned if we would even make the playoffs. Our finish and performance in the playoffs gave our returning players a taste of what it takes to succeed in this league. There is no question we feel they had a successful season. We compete in a tremendous conference, and it’s well documented that AUS hockey creates opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the country every night, so it tests you every night.”


With the 2022-23 season now in the rear-view mirror, the attention shifts to the Axemen off-season and what needs to be done to ensure the team and the hockey program are ready to continue to build for success in the 2023-24 season and beyond.


Coach Burns expressed his desire to continue to build the program for the future saying, “Moving forward the main focus for our staff is generating more revenue, which will enhance our on-ice product. To be a national contender you need to be able to compete financially. The landscape has changed and even though the AUS always produces many of the top teams in the country, you are seeing many other schools raising their levels and hockey is as competitive as it’s ever been. We have been fortunate here in the Annapolis Valley, this is the best place to play university hockey in the country. We have a great facility and a very loyal fan base and a following like no other. We want to make sure our players have everything they need to win and develop to further their careers. Our university is extremely supportive of our team. It will be crucial for us to execute our different fundraising endeavors to help ensure we can have a top-quality program. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing these initiatives and we look forward to making these successful with the support of our community, alumni, and fans.  It’s no secret money is crucial not only to attract the best players in the country, but to provide the best student athlete experience. This is a must.”


Burns added, “On ice, we are very fortunate that we have already secured a topflight goalie in Thomas Couture and our focus will be in recruiting players who have speed and can create offence. We have many key building blocks in place to have a very strong team. It’s no secret we struggled to score this year, and this is our ongoing focus for our recruiting process. It was great to see a reinvigorated following in the arena this year after a couple of fragmented seasons in our league due to the pandemic. I don’t believe I have ever been as excited about the future for this program. There’s a lot of work to do and it starts with our coaching staff.”


Stay tuned for exciting news about off-season events and initiatives, as well as recruiting announcements in the coming weeks! The future is looking bright for the Axemen hockey program and we’re excited to have you onboard for the journey! #GoAcadiaGo

McCollum stops 33 in Acadia loss

Wolfville, N.S. – It was another nail-biter between the Acadia Axemen and Saint Mary’s Huskies in Game 4 of the AUS semi-finals. While both teams put in a valiant effort, it was the Saint Mary’s Huskies who prevailed with a 3-0 victory and series win.

Jeremy Helvig (Kingston, Ont.) was named Subway First Star of the Night after putting in his second shutout of the series.

A costly 5-minute major by the Axemen in the third period ended up being the difference maker.

Nathan Dunkley (Campbellford, Ont.) scored the game and series-deciding goal with 9:49 remaining in the third.

Dunkley picked up the puck at center ice thanks to a misread by the Axemen penalty killers.

Acadia had the puck in the Huskies’ zone and threw it back out to center so that their defense could kill some extra time. However, that was when Dunkley stole the puck, came in on a breakaway and lifted the puck high blocker side to make it 1-0.

A mere 14 seconds later, Keith Getson (Bridgewater, N.S.) doubled the lead while parked in front of the Acadia net with a backhander that he slid through the legs of the Acadia goalie to make it 2-0.

Tight defense was the theme of the last three games. In the past two games of this series, there have only been five goals scored between the two teams, with one of those being an empty-netter.

The first two periods were scoreless.

In the first period, it seemed like Acadia was going to strike first thanks to a handful of odd-man rushes; however, those chances were shut down by the Huskies’ D and Helvig.

Saint Mary’s had their chances too, but the Axemen kept them off the scoresheet.

At the end of the opening period, the shots were tied 11-11.

Once again in the second period, neither team was able to find the back of the net.

Acadia had the best chance when Nick Deakin-Poot redirected a shot that hit the post but stayed out.

The Huskies had a power-play in the second frame that allowed them to get set up in the Acadia zone and record solid shots on the net, but there was nothing that could fool Axemen netminder Conor McCollum (Pickering, Ont.).

Acadia held a slight advantage in shots by the end of the second frame, with a 27-24 lead going into the third.

Adam McMaster (Beamsville, Ont.) almost scored in the opening minute of the third on the power-play, ringing the puck off the goal post.

Saint Mary’s got their best opportunity of the game in the third after Axemen forward Jack Flaman (Vibank, Sask.) took a 5-minute boarding major, giving the Huskies a huge power-play chance.

It was this power-play that saw Dunkley and Getson score to put the game out of reach for Acadia.

The Axemen continued to fight but were unable to solve the Huskies’ goaltender.

Andrew Coxhead (Bedford, N.S.) sealed the victory for Saint Mary’s in the final two minutes by adding an empty-net goal to make it 3-0.

Bad blood seemed to be brewing throughout the series but it was not until the final minute that a fight broke out between the teams, with a number of players dropping the gloves.

The teams combined for 130 minutes in penalties for the game.

Tonight, was another stellar night for the men between the pipes. Acadia goalie Conor McCollum put in a strong performance, turning aside 33 of 35 shots on the night. Likewise, Jeremy Helvig stopped 40 of 40 shots in his phenomenal game.

Acadia Axemen forward Adam McMaster and Saint Mary’s defensman Dennis Busby (Oro-Medonte, Ont.) were named second and third stars of the night, respectively.

With a 3-1 semifinal series win, the Huskies move on to face the winner of the Moncton/UNB series in the AUS finals.

McCollum makes 51 saves in win, Sellan with 2OT Winner!

WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Don’t call it a comeback just yet, but the Acadia Axemen kept themselves in the AUS semi-finals tonight thanks to a 2OT 2-1 win over the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

Acadia is now down 2 games to 1 in the best-of-five series.

It was a thrilling finish to the game as the third star of the night Brendan Sellan tipped in a point shot in the second overtime period.

Goaltending was an essential piece to keep both teams in the game, as Conor McCollum and Jeremy Helvig put in a pair of incredible performances for Acadia and Saint Mary’s respectively.

McCollum was named Subway First Star of the Night and Helvig was awarded second star of the night for their stellar nights in the net.

Following a 7-1 shellacking and a much closer 2-0 finish, Acadia responded with their strongest performance yet.

Acadia began to be outplayed by the Huskies as the game wore on, but they came out with the victory thanks to their gritty play.

It only took 35 seconds for the Axemen to get on the board.

Acadia grabbed their first lead of the series early in the first period with a power-play goal in the opening minute of the game.

The puck came out to Adam McMaster, who was set up in the left face-off circle. McMaster ripped a shot high into the top right corner of the net to make it 1-0.

This was the only goal of the period despite chances on both sides throughout the rest of the first.

The play was chippy, with a few shoving matches breaking out after the whistle in front of both nets.

By the end of the first period, the shots were tied 10-10.

In the second, neither team was able to find the back of the net. There were a number of power-play opportunities, on both sides, in the frame, but neither team capitalized.

Acadia had two strong scoring chances in the frame, including a failed 3-on-1 and a breakaway that led to a power-play after Nick Deakin-Poot had his stick slashed out of his hands.

Saint Mary’s had a few strong power-play chances but were unable to find the back of the net in the middle period.

At the end of the second period, the shots were 24-21 in favour of Saint Mary’s.

Mirroring Acadia’s first period, Saint Mary’s scored 22 seconds into the third.

Nathan Dunkley scooped the puck up in front of the net from a failed centering pass by Walter Flower and threw it in past the scrambling Acadia goalie.

Dunkley’s goal made the rest of the period a tense fight to see who could break the tie.

Conor McCollum put on a showcase late in the third, making a pair of incredible saves during an offensive burst from the Huskies.

Acadia had a few odd-man rushes in the frame but was shut down by the Huskies’ defense. Their best chance came in the final minute when Morgan Nauss got a pass from behind the net and took a clear shot while stepping in from the point uncovered.

Overtime was needed to break the tie.

Saint Mary’s held a commanding 40-28 lead in shots.

Both teams had solid chances in the first overtime, including a close call on a shot by Corson Hopwo late frame.

The shots were 47-33 for Saint Mary’s heading into the second OT frame.

Acadia goalie Conor McCollum turned aside 51 of 52 shots in the game, while his Saint Mary’s counterpart Jeremy Helvig stopped 41 of 43 shots.

Game 4 of the AUS semi-finals is tomorrow night, Tuesday, Feb. 28. Puck drop is 7 pm at Andrew H. McCain Arena.

Provided by Joshua Foote, Acadia Athletics Communications Office