Title Defence Begins Tonight

27 teams have painted a target on their back but until dethroned, Acadia is the reigning SICHL champ. Defence of that title begins tonight in Saint John.
by Marcel Cormier | December 19, 2012, 7:56 AM ET

The 2012-13 SICHL campaign officially got underway last night as 12 teams were in action. Oddly enough, the current Continental Cup champion Acadia Golden Bears were not one of them which is standard operating procedure for most reputable leagues on the planet. The slight wasn't a major focus of Acadia GM Guy Flaming's pre-season media conference but he did respond when asked to comment about it.

"Of course we expected to be playing on opening night but when the schedule came out a couple of weeks ago and we saw that we weren't... what can you do?" he said. "We're not going to lose any sleep over it. We know we're not the most popular team in the league and that leads to things like this. Having two titles in just 7 seasons doesn't sit well. You'd think that would be a record the league would want to promote but whatever. Like I said, we're not losing any sleep."

Opening night for the Bears comes tonight as the team raises their second SICHL championship banner, fourth overall, before squaring off against the Dublin Shamrocks. There are interesting sidebar stories heading into the game not the least of which is that the Irish will ice a team which includes former Bear David Krejci. Dublin signed Krejci to an off-season offer sheet and Acadia let him walk in exchange for a couple of high draft picks including the Shamrock's 1st rounder in 2013. 

"We don't play them a lot this year but holding their pick is extra incentive for us to get the win," said Flaming. "It will be weird to see Dave in another uniform though."

Krejci was a member of the Bears organization for the last 5 years including that last 3 as a regular in Acadia's top 6.

As well, Dublin is the relocated Moscow Reds franchise, the team Acadia defeated in 2007 to claim their first SICHL title.

3rd Jersey Nights

Acadia, the first team in the SICHL to wear alternate uniforms, will open the season in their 'other' jerseys. It is the first of 15 games the Bears will wear the predominatly yellow uniforms. Here is the schedule for when fans can expect to see the alternates of the ice (Day, Game, Opponent):

  1. 2 - 11 - Dublin Shamrocks
  2. 9 - 79 - Vancouver Vipers
  3. 21 - 186 - Brandon Wheat Kings
  4. 28 - 255 - Montreal Millionaires
  5. 43 - 405 - Fredericton Express
  6. 54 - 488 - Miami Makos
  7. 57 - 518 - Amsterdam Admirals
  8. 74 - 653 - Toronto Titans
  9. 82 - 737 - Calgary Mustangs
  10. 86 - 766 - Reykjavik Riders
  11. 91 - 815 - Kansas City Krunch
  12. 105 - 936 - Stockholm Cougars
  13. 113 - 992 - St.Louis Spartans
  14. 126 - 1084 - Edmonton Superpoopers
  15. 131 - 1122 - Quebec Cannons

Captains Named

With the departure of Ryan Smyth, the team needed a replacement captain. Head coach Dave Hakstol said that there were several viable candidates but experience played the biggest role in the decision making process. 

"Even though most of the guys on the team have won a title now, we're still a very young squad so I wanted guys who have been in the league for a long time who can be leaders for us," Hakstol said.

Interestingly, none of the three players chosen for the distinction of wearing a letter were even on the pening night roster last year. Forward Scott Hartnell takes over a captain of the team with defencemen Brooks Orpik and Toni Lydman chosen as alternates.

"It's an honor for me and I think I'll be a lead by example type of player," said Hartnell, "I've always considered myself to be a leader whether I had one sewn on my chest or not."

Hartnell was acquired from the Amsterdam Admirals last season along with youngster Reilly Smith in exchange for Justin Abdelkader, Justin Shugg and a 6th round pick. The Regina product played 60 games with the Bears and had 21 points in a 3rd line role. He's slotted alongside Claude Giroux and Jordan Eberle this year on the club's top line.  

Orpik was also acquired via trade last year, right after opening night, with Stockholm for Kyle Brodziak, Jared Boll, Jean-Francois Jacques and a 7th round selection. The veteran defenceman played 72 games with the Bears and was resigned as a UFA to a monster $6.3M, 3-year contract for his efforts. Ironically, he won't play for Acadia in this year's opening game either as he sits out a 1-game suspension earned in the final game of the pre-season.

Newly acquired blueliner Toni Lydman is the oldest skater on the team and has played for five different franchises along the way. He was a member of the Reds in 2007 when swept by the Bears in the finals.

Bear Tracks

  • Odd scheduling for the Bears to begin the year; 3 of Acadia's first 6 games are against the Vancouver Viipers and the Ottawa Slammers are on the agenda 3 times within the first 8 games. Yes, in 8 games Acadia will only play four different opponents. 
  • It's a similar story at the end of the season as well; Acadia takes on divisional rival Quebec Canons 4 times in the final 9 games, 3 times in the last 6 contests.
  • Defenceman Ryan Sproul did not crack the roster of Canada's entry to the 2013 WJC. 
  • Forward Stefan Noesen was suspended for 10 games by the OHL which ended his hopes of playin the WJC as well. The Texan would have been a top-6 forward for team USA.
  • Surprisingly, USA chose not to replace Noesen in their camp meaning Nic Kerdiles did not get the late invite as widely expected.  
  • Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Week.
  • Also in the ECHL, netminder Louis Domingue is red hot having won his last 8 consecutive starts.
  • Defenceman Joel Edmundson was traded from Moose Jaw to Kamloops in the WHL. Acadia's 44th overall pick in 2011, adds veteran leadership and size to an already powerful Blazers roster.

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