Hockey Axemen settle for second in the AUHC standings

John Decoste
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Scott Trask, Tyler Ferry and Colin Archer celebrate a third period goal in Acadia's 5-2 Valentine's Day victory over the Aigles Bleu. - Jennifer Hoegg

The Acadia hockey Axemen settled for second in the AUHC standings following a 2-0 loss to UNB Feb. 15 in the regular season finale for both teams.

Acadia, the CIS third-ranked team, had set up a one-game showdown for first place with the #2-ranked Varsity Reds with a 5-2 win over the Moncton Aigles Bleus Feb. 14 on home ice.

“Our goal entering the season was to get a bye,” head coach Darren Burns said. “Obviously, you’d always like to finish first, but we’re happy to have achieved one of the two.”

On Feb. 15, Acadia played a solid first period, in which neither team was able to score, with UNB picking up the only two goals of the night in the second period. Acadia finished with a 32-25 edge in shots on goal, including a 16-6 advantage in the third period, but was unable to put any shots past UNB goalie Charles Lavigne, even with a six-on-four advantage for most of the final two minutes.

On Feb. 14, Dylan Anderson had a pair of goals and Brett Thompson, K.C. Brown and Scott Trask one goal each as the Axemen won a battle of CIS top-10 teams.

Following a scoreless opening period, the third-ranked Axemen took a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. Moncton made it 3-2 early in the third on goals by Alex Noel and Simon Lacroix, but that was as close as the CIS #10-ranked Aigles Bleus would get.

Acadia played both weekend games without AUHC scoring champ Liam Heelis. With a pair of assists Feb. 14, teammate Mike Cazzola managed to tie Heelis for the scoring lead with 42 points, but Heelis finished with 24 goals to Cazzola’s 11.

Burns would say only that Heelis is suffering from “an upper body injury,” which is “something he’s been dealing with for a while.”

As for when Heelis might return, the coach admitted, “we’re unsure right now. We’ll likely know better in a week’s time.”

While Acadia missed Heelis in the UNB game - “obviously you miss your leading scorer. He’s been a great leader for us all year,” said Burns – he felt the Axemen “played well against two very good teams. You can’t sit around and whine about injuries, or use them as an excuse.”

UNB’s win Feb. 15 was the 13th in a row for the Varsity Reds. UNB finished the regular season with a record of 24-3-1 for 49 points, four ahead of the second-place Axemen (21-4-3).

Moncton finished third at 17-11 for 34 points. UPEI was fourth at 15-10-3 for 33, Saint Mary’s fifth at 14-14 for 28, and St. F.X. sixth at 12-13-3 for 27. St. Thomas (6-20-2) and Dalhousie (3-24-1) missed the playoffs.

The first round of the playoffs begins this week, with Moncton meeting St. F.X. and UPEI taking on Saint Mary’s. UNB and Acadia earned first-round byes.

Geographic location: Moncton, Saint Mary, St. Thomas

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