Couture with 33 saves for the shutout

HALIFAX, NS – Acadia goaltender Thomas Couture stopped 33 shots as the Axemen defeated the Saint Mary’s Huskies 2-0 in Atlantic University Sport Men’s Hockey action on Wednesday night at the Dauphinee Centre in Halifax. 

The Axemen hit the scoreboard first, just over a minute into the action, as defenceman Hudson Wilson (Toronto, ON) fired a point shot that was redirected by forward Cole Nagy (Saskatoon, SK) and past Huskies netminder Matt Welsh (Halifax, NS), putting the visitors ahead 1-0 just 1:08 into the first. 

Moments later, Huskies forward Reid Valade (Caledon, ON) had a glorious chance to equalize as he deked through the Acadia zone and appeared to have beaten Axemen goaltender Thomas Couture (Levis, QC) but was unable to stuff the puck into the empty goal.  

Midway through the period, the Huskies had a breakaway chance as forward Nathan Dunkley (Campbellford, ON) snuck behind the Axemen defence, but Couture made a great save to keep the Axemen lead intact.  

The Huskies outshot the Axemen 17-9 in the first period, but Couture was rock solid through 20 minutes and the visitors took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. 

The first ten minutes of the second period saw the Huskies continue to heavily outchance the Axemen, including several opportunities on the powerplay, but they were unable to beat Couture.  

The Axemen best chance of the second period also come on the powerplay, as Brady Burns (Port Williams, NS) fired a one-timer from the slot, but Welsh turned it away. 

Acadia outshot Saint Mary’s 11-8 through the second period and maintained their 1-0 lead into the final frame. 

The goaltending duel continued into the third period, with Welsh stopping Axemen forward Zack Jones (North Falmouth, MA) on a breakaway.  

Along with the stellar goaltending, neither team was able to get much offence going all night. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Huskies pulled Welsh from goal and Liam Kidney (Enfield, NS) scored an empty net tally to double the Axemen lead. 

Axemen goaltender Thomas Couture was named Player of the Game, turning away 33 shots for the shutout, while Welsh turned away 25 shots for the Huskies. 

The Huskies loss snaps a four game win-streak and drops their record to 10-9-0-0 on the campaign. They’ll be back in action on Friday night, as they visit the UPEI Panthers (7-10-1-0) at 7 p.m. in Charlottetown, PEI. 

The Axemen win improves their record to 5-11-0-3 on the season. Acadia will also be on the road to Charlottetown this weekend, as they take on the Panthers on Saturday night at 7 p.m. 

Recap by Allan April / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics
Photos by Mona Ghiz / Saint Mary’s Huskies Athletics 

 

January begins a 12 game sprint to the playoffs

The Acadia Axemen concluded their first half of the season with a 4-11-3 record through their first 18 games. With a short 12 game second half starting January 3rd, each game will be crucial as they look to move up the AUS standings. The team currently sits in the 6th and final conference playoff position, just one point ahead of the 7th place Dalhousie Tigers.

With plenty of optimism coming into the season, as the team continued to add building blocks for the future, the Axemen were looking to improve on their regular season results of a year ago. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued the Axemen thus far, with up to 8 regulars out with injuries for multiple games. Despite this, there have been bright spots, as the Axemen have battled in every game with a depleted lineup.

Acadia Head Coach Darren Burns reflected on his team’s 1st half saying, “I truthfully felt our team made a lot of positive strides during the first half. Our special teams were solid, and I think our defensive play got much better as the season progressed backed by outstanding goaltending down the stretch.”

Goaltending has been the backbone of the 1st half of the season for the Axemen, as the Acadia netminders strong play have given the team a chance to win on every given night. Acadia’s Goals Against Average is 3.07, only UNB & SMU have averaged a lower goals against per game in the conference, and only UNB has a better save % in the AUS than Acadia’s goaltenders combined .908 Save %.

Brayden Peters got off to a strong start going 2-2 in 5 games, before a potentially season ending injury, and Thomas Couture has been rock solid, playing in 14 games, with a save % of .915 and goals against average of 2.89.

Brady Burns had an impressive 1st half of the season, putting up 17 points in 18 games to lead the team in points, and forward Ethan Ernst has added 8 points in his 1st season. Charlie Desroches, Tyler Deline, and Cam Whynot have been solid additions on the blue line in their 1st year of AUS action.

Second year forwards Bailey Peach and Liam Kidney have continued their progression with Peach leading the team with 7 goals, and has 12 points, while Kidney has 9 points. Zack Jones & Brendan Sellan have also been strong upfront, while veterans Hudson Wilson, Morgan Nauss, & Orie Mainolfi have been anchors on the blue line.

The Axemen struggle has been scoring goals, as they rank at the bottom of the AUS in goals, despite an improved powerplay over last season. This will be a focal point to improve upon for success in the 2nd half.

Looking forward to the 2nd half, Coach Burns said, “It’s obviously a 12-game sprint. Coming out of the gate strong and gelling as a team will be important. We anticipate that we will get a lot of players back into our line up to start the second half and this should help our offensive play. There is no question, it played a factor in our energy level and ability to play in our opponent’s end. We need to make sure we stay positive, composed, and laser focused in the second half.”

The Axemen are hopeful to have all skaters back from injury, only goalie Brayden Peters is expected to remain on the injured list long-term. This will be a massive boost for the Axemen, adding Peyton Hoyt, Nick Deakin-Poot, & Cole Nagy up front, and a healthy Orie Mainolfi, Tyler Deline, Merrick Rippon, and Luke Zazula will give the Axemen the deep lineup they envisioned back in September.

The Axemen return to action on January 3rd as they travel to Halifax to face the Saint Mary’s Huskies. The two teams have played over 2 full games + two 3-on-3 overtime periods without a goal being scored. The Huskies have won both games 1-0 in shootouts, so January 3rd is bound to be another dandy! You can watch the game live on AUStv.ca and cheer on your Acadia Axemen in their march to the playoffs.

 

 By Thomas Becker 

 

The UPEI Panthers brought the first half of the season to a close on a high note after shutting out the Acadia Axemen 4-0 Saturday night. 

 

Rookie forward Elias Cohen opened the scoring in the first period, but the Panthers (7-10-1) seized control and asserted their dominance with three goals in the second period to secure the victory. 

 

Freshman forward Noah Sedore led the way with a goal and two assists, while Cohen and Kaleb Pearson added a goal and an assist each. Veteran defenceman Kurtis Henry also found the back of the net in the win. 

 

The Panthers jumped to an early lead on a great play from Cohen 36 seconds into the game. As an outlet pass came his way, Cohen spun away from a defender and took the puck up the ice before slinging a wrist shot that beat goaltender Thomas Couture far-side top corner to make it 1-0. 

 

The score would stay that way until the second period, where the Panthers locked down the win. The home team capitalized on an Axemen (4-11-3) double minor penalty at 7:38 when Henry blasted a one-timer from the right circle on a feed from Cohen. 

 

Less than two minutes later, Henry found Sedore at the side of the net, where he redirected the pass in the back of the net with his foot. 

 

UPEI’s leading scorer, Pearson, got in on the fun at 14:57 when the star forward weaved past three defenders before tucking a shot in the top corner to make it 4-0. 

 

The third period was a bit of a sloppy affair for the Panthers, as they were outshot 13-6 in the frame. But goaltender Joe Ranger picked his team up, earning his second shutout in three starts after a 28-save performance. 

Couture with 39 saves for Acadia

WOLFVILLE – Matthew Welsh (Halifax, NS) won the goaltending duel on Friday night in Wolfville as the Saint Mary’s Huskies defeated the Acadia Axemen 1-0 in a shootout in front of 1,131 fans at Andrew H McCain Arena.  

Welsh made 29 stops in the first four periods, while Logan Couture (Levis, QC) made 39 saves to send the game to a shootout. For their play they were named the game’s first and second stars respectively. Ben Boyd (Dartmouth, NS) was named the third star for the Huskies.  

Saint Mary’s Charlie Dafonseca (Thornhill, ON) opened the shootout with a goal, followed by a miss by Acadia’s Adam McMaster (Beamsville, ON).  

In the second round Brendan Mairs (London, ON) and Declan McDonnell (Buffalo, NY) each missed.  

Bailey Peach (Falmouth, NS) evened the game for the Axemen in the third round after Cedric Ralph (Peterborough, ON) left the door open with a miss for the Huskies. 

Bradey Johnson (Lindsay, ON) scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round before a miss by Ethan Ernst (Weyburn, SK) ended the game.  

Tomorrow night the Axemen travel to Charlottetown to face the Panthers, while the Huskies are now done for the break until Wednesday, Jan. 3 when they host Acadia in Halifax.  

Peach & Burns with the Axemen goals

ANTIGONISH, NS – The STFX X-Men’s penalty kill provided two goals in a 4-2 Friday night win over the Acadia Axemen at the Charles V Keating Centre. This victory marked the X-Men’s third in a row.  

 

Reigning U SPORTS men’s hockey player of the week Jacob Hudson (Antigonish, NS) opened the scoring midway through the first period, while short-handed. Logan Chisholm (Antigonish, NS) picked off an errand pass at his own blue line before passing off to Hudson, who skated in and roofed one short-side.  

 

Acadia came close to tying the game early in the middle frame, ringing one off the crossbar. Axemen goalie Zachary Paputsakis (Rockland, ON) made a big save on a Conner Bruggen-Cate (Langley, BC) breakaway in the seventh minute of the second period to keep his team in striking distance. With about four minutes left in the second, Acadia’s Bailey Peach (Falmouth, NS) tied the game with a tap in after getting the puck from Liam Kidney (Enfield, NS) off a bounce behind the STFX net while on the powerplay.  

 

Shots at the end of the second period were 23-17 in favour of the X-Men.  

 

A four minute penalty looked to spell trouble for STFX early in the third period, but the penalty kill came up big again, with Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS) burying a one-timer low off a pass from Hudson from behind the Acadia net. Bruggen-Cate made it a two-goal game about three minutes later, getting the last stick to the puck after Matthew Struthers (Milton, ON) fired a shot that squeaked through the pads of Paputsakis.  

 

The Axemen came to play though, and cut the lead in half three minutes later, with Brady Burns (Port Williams, NS) banking one in from behind the X-Men net. A few minutes later, Paputsakis made a big save to keep the lead at one but got injured on the play and was spelled by Thomas Couture (Levis, QC).  

 

Acadia pulled their goalie with just over a minute left in the contest, but it was Struthers who sealed the game with an empty net goal for the home team. Connor Roberts (Owen Sound, ON) had the assist.  

 

Acadia’s Adam McMaster (Beamsville, ON) picked up the third star of the game, while STFX’s Smith earned second star honours. Hudson was named player of the game for the second time in a row following his two-point performance.  

 

At the final whistle, shots were 35-21 in favour of the STFX. X-Men goalie Joseph Raaymakers (Chatham, ON) had 19 saves in the win, while Acadia’s Paputsakis had 30 saves in the loss.  

 

The Axemen are back on the ice next Friday, when they will host the Saint Mary’s Huskies. The X-Men return to action on Wednesday for another home game against the Moncton Aigles Bleus.  

 

-30- 

 

Recap courtesy Matt Draper, STFX Athletics 

Bailey Peach scores a pair in Acadia victory

WOLFVILLE – Bailey Peach (Falmouth, NS) led the way as the Acadia Axemen snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a 5-1 win over the Dalhousie Tigers in front of 937 fans at Andrew H. McCain Arena.  

 

Peach opened the scoring, while Nick Deakin-Poot’s (Georgetown, ON) unassisted goal 10:12 into the first stood as the eventual game-winning goal.  

 

The second period saw each team find the back of the net as Ethan Ernst (Weyburn, SK) pushed Acadia’s lead to 3-0 before Zak Smith (Austin, MB) earned it back with just 21 seconds remaining in the frame.  

 

Both third period goals for the Axemen came on the power play, starting with Peach’s second of the night at the 16:57 mark. Just 11 seconds later Zack Jones (North Falmouth, MA) gave Acadia their extra insurance marker.  

 

Acadia was 2-for-3 on the power play, improving their power play percentage to 19 per cent on the season, while Dalhousie was 0-for-3, sitting at just 12.2 per cent. 

 

In goal Thomas Couture (Levis, QC) made 26 saves in the victory, while Nicholas Chenard (Tecumseh, ON) made 35 in the loss for the Tigers.  

 

The victory moved the Axemen out of last place in the AUS, which is where the Tigers now sit heading into their final games of the first half of the season.  

 

Acadia heads to Antigonish on Friday night to face the STFX X-Men (9-4-1-0), while Dalhousie is home on Friday against the cross-town rival Saint Mary’s Huskies (6-8-0-0). Puck drop for both games is 7 p.m.