A ceremony is planned to retire Connie MacNeil’s number 6 jersey before the Acadia men’s hockey game Oct. 20. File
By John DeCoste
Acadia’s men’s hockey team will open the varsity season at home Friday evening against St. Thomas.
The Axemen roster is a combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar.Gone are stalwarts Jonathan Laberge, Andrew Clark, Spencer Jezegou, Jacob Dietrich, Michael Ward and goalie Peter Di Salvo – the latter two moving on to pursue professional opportunities.
In addition to 18 returning players, including Wolfville native K.C. Brown, head coach Darren Burns has added eight newcomers. New faces include three Ontario defencemen - Geoff Schemitsch, Thornhill; Chris Buonomo, Sault Ste. Marie; and Tyler Ferry, Richmond Hill - four forwards - Scott Trask, Bonavista, N.L.; Taylor Makin, Lethbridge, Alta.; Michael Clark Halifax; and Jacob McKendry, Barrie, Ont. - and goalie Brandon Glover, Victoria, B.C.
Glover, a six-foot-four goalie who played his entre junior career in the Western Hockey League, most recently with the Seattle Thunderbirds, was a welcome late addition after DiSalvo’s departure during the summer.
“He’s had a great pre-season,” Burns said of Glover. “We had talked to him before, but we were fortunate to get him on relatively late notice.”
All the new recruits but one are at least six feet tall and are expected to add “both size and grit” to the bench. According to coach Burns, all the new players also possess good worth ethic and leadership qualities, something he has always stressed in his recruiting.
In the pre-season, the Axemen had a loss and a tie at the Don Wells Memorial tournament, a win over Moncton and a pair of losses to New Hampshire and Vermont south of the border. In their final pre-season game Oct. 11 in Berwick, Acadia beat Dalhousie 5-1.
“So far, I’ve liked what I’ve seen,” Burns said last week.
“Sometimes exhibition results can be deceiving, but they do let you know where you are,” Burns said. “All of our games within the conference have been close and competitive.”
Overall, he said he feels the Axemen need to “be disciplined, play tough team defence and cut down on our goals against” to be the most effective in a conference likely to be “the tightest it’s ever been.”
After Friday’s opener against St. Thomas, Acadia will remain at home to face UPEI Sunday afternoon. Both weekend games will feature special celebrations. Prior to Friday’s contest, ceremonies will be held marking the 25th anniversary of Acadia Arena. Fittingly, St. Thomas was also the visiting team the night the arena opened Oct. 22, 1988.
“It makes me feel old,” Burns quipped, “when you consider I’ve been around for 23 of those years.
“It’s certainly been an important building in my life,” he added.
Prior to Sunday’s 2 p.m. game, a ceremony will take place to officially retire the number 6 jersey worn by Connie MacNeil. The former Axeman, long-time supporter and Acadia Sport Hall of Fame inductee died earlier this year at the age of 83.
To Burns, the gesture is highly appropriate, given “all that Connie has meant over the years to Acadia hockey and to Acadia in general.”