Acadia's winter season varsity squads had their work cut out for them after a successful fall campaign that included every team placing third place or higher in the AUS final standings and three teams attending their respective U SPORTS championships. Here's a look at how things turned out.
With a 4-3 record at the Christmas break, the basketball Axemen opened 2017 with an 84-81 overtime loss to first-place Dalhousie in early January. They finished the season with a fifth place 10-10 record and then eliminated fourth-place Memorial in quarter-final playoff action before a nail-biter of a semi-final loss to the eventual AUS champions, Dalhousie Tigers.
"Acadia basketball is trending in the right direction as we finished up the 2016-17 season," said head coach Kevin Duffie. "We thought we played our best basketball down the stretch and into the playoffs, and we have a solid core returning in the fall. I believe we will be competitive in our conference and across the country next season."
Junior guard Ben Miller and senior forward Erik Nissen were named AUS All-Stars.
Posting a 2-5 record in the opening month of the regular season, the basketball Axewomen finished the season with one loss in their last seven games. With a fifth place 11-9 record in the AUS final standings, the Axewomen eliminated UPEI in quarter-final play and handed the reigning AUS champions Saint Mary's a semi-final loss before being stopped by Cape Breton in the AUS final.
Last year's AUS women basketball's MVP, Paloma Anderson, and Chanel Smith were honoured as AUS All-Stars. Graduating senior Katie Ross was named the AUS and U SPORTS Community Service Award recipient. Anderson, who was the top scorer in the AUS and U SPORTS, was named a first-team U SPORTS All-Canadian.
The Axewomen volleyball team fell short in qualifying for post-season play this season, but the team ended the regular season on a positive note, handing the second-place Saint Mary's Huskies a 3-1 loss and finishing the regular season with a five-sets eventual loss to first-place Dalhousie.
"Because of our experiences from the 2016-17 season, I feel very confident in how prepared we will be moving forward. With the addition of some top-level talent from across the country, we will look to create a cohesive unit that is hungry to compete," said head coach Michelle Wood.
Second-year outside hitter Lauryn Renzella was honoured as an AUS second team All-Star.
After a recovery last season, the 2016-17 season was a building year for the Acadia swim team. Recruiting was a priority and 10 new swimmers joined the team in the fall. Top recruit Brett Liem, from Bedford, N.S., led the way, being recognized as the AUS Rookie of the Year. Brett's specialty carried him to the U SPORTS championships with a top placing in the 50m freestyle by winning the consolation final and setting a new Acadia record.
The Axemen showed remarkable improvement with a solid second place at the AUS championships in PEI. The Axewomen weren't too far behind and narrowly missed second spot behind Mount Allison. It was a banner year with an unprecedented 21 medals captured at the AUS Championships and three gold medalists emerged: Alison MacEachern, Liem and Adam Deutsch.
"The 2016-17 season showed the true grit of becoming a team that wants a championship. With over 10 recruits in the works for next season, the team's goal will be to challenge for the top. It will be the first time that the team will have a full complement of both men and women and it should be very exciting," said head coach Gary MacDonald.
The Axemen hockey team finished the regular season with an impressive 20-8-2 record in the highly competitive AUS hockey conference. The Axemen were ranked in 13 of 18 weeks on the U SPORTS Top 10 list and climbed as high as fourth prior to and following the Christmas break.
Finishing second in the AUS standings, Acadia lost to StFX in a best-of-five semi-final series. In a consolation match-up against Saint Mary's to determine a third AUS team to attend the U SPORTS championship, the Axemen swept the Huskies in a best-of-three series. Pitted against the number-one seed Alberta Golden Bears at the U SPORTS Championship in Fredericton, NB, the Axemen produced a 4-1 win, but fell to UNB in semi-final play. Acadia rebounded, however, to capture bronze with a convincing 7-3 win over StFX.
Senior defensemen Matthew Pufahl and Geoff Schemitsch were selected as AUS All-Stars this past season, while first-year forward Stephen Harper was named to the AUS All-Rookie Team. Schemitsch was named a U SPORTS second-team All-Canadian and the AUS Most Sportsmanlike Player.