Shown with a special cake commemorating Acadia’s University Cup bid are Acadia minor hockey players Brady Clarke, left, Cole Burbidge and Aidan Clarke with Axemen Liam Heelis who confirmed that he would still be an Acadia player in both 2015 and 2016. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
Acadia’s hockey team has been fortunate enough to win a pair of national championships, with both wins coming at tournaments hosted in Toronto.
In the perfect scenario, the next national title for the Axemen might be won at the Halifax Metro Centre, at a University Cup tournament hosted by Acadia.
Acadia Director of Athletics Kevin Dickie announced Sept. 19 that Acadia would be submitting a bid to Canadian Interuniversity Sport to host the 2015 and 2016 University Cup national men’s hockey championships.
“I’m really, really excited today, maybe even a bit nervous,” Dickie said. “This afternoon, we will formally be submitting a bid to host the 2015 and 2016 University Cup.”
Due to “the magnitude of the event,” the decision has been made to host the tournaments at the Halifax Metro Centre.
“We’d have loved to host it here, but with the number of fans we’re expecting to attend,” and the many other factors to be considered, “Halifax makes more sense.”
Dickie acknowledged hosting the University Cup two straight years is going to require a pile of work.
“We know it’s going to be tough,” he said. “We’re talking about taking this event to a whole new level.”
If it ends up being the successful bidder, Acadia would host the tournaments in conjunction with CIS and the Metro Centre.
The Sept. 19 announcement was the culmination of several months of work behind the scenes. Partnerships have already been established to ensure hockey fans from HRM and throughout the province, including here in the Valley, will have easy access to the games.
Acadia also intends to create many opportunities outside the rink for student-athletes to connect with communities and hockey fans.
“We’re going to be relying on the ‘experts’ we have within our own alumni,” Dickie said. “We have as good leadership on our campus as you’ll find anywhere in the country.”
Acadia president Ray Ivany confirmed that Dickie and his team had been working on putting together the bid since at least March of this year.
“We’ve received tremendous support from public and private sector partners, and we believe we’re offering CIS a unique opportunity to raise the profile of university sport and our student-athletes,” Ivany said.
Acadia, Ivany added, leads the country with the percentage of student-athletes who receive recognition as CIS Academic All-Canadians. Their community volunteer commitments have been recognized by CIS through national individual awards as well.
“Fan support for our hockey team by students, alumni and community members has been incredible, year after year, so being able to experience the University Cup would be an added bonus,” Ivany said.
Dickie has experience in hosting the University Cup during his time at UNB.
“Securing a national championship is a strategic priority for our program,” he said.
“Through our coaches and staff, our department has instilled a high performance culture within our program. Bringing the University Cup to Nova Scotia for the first time will add to the level of commitment our student-athletes have to pursuing excellence.”
Axemen alumni, the Acadia Minor Hockey Association and the fans who watch each game are all part of Acadia’s hockey program, said hockey Axemen head coach Darren Burns.
“Axemen hockey is really much bigger than the team that takes to the ice every game,” he added.
He also paid tribute to the Acadia student body.
“Acadia students don’t just go to school Monday to Friday. It’s 24/7, 365 days a year, with things like Shinerama and Painting the Town Red and Blue.”
Acadia will be bidding for the University Cup against an unknown number of other bidders, including the University of PEI. A decision on the successful bidder is expected by later this fall.
For more information on Acadia’s bid, visit www.acadiaathletics.ca or follow the discussion on Twitter #takingAshot.