Bears 2014-15 Season Preview

Out of hibernation and hungry for the start of the new season, Acadia is ready to kick of the year with a banner raising on Saturday night.
by Marcel Cormier | November 13, 2014, 1:05 AM ET

The 2014-15 SICHL schedule opens on Thursday night with 7 games on tap but the Acadia Golden Bears will have to wait until Friday to play their first game. The Bears will be on the road in Halifax to take on one of their chief rivals, the Schooners. The home opener for Acadia will be the following night when the Ottawa Slammers visit Saint John. That evening the home team will raise their new banner to the rafters commemorating the 2014 Commissioners Trophy for finishing 1st overall during the regular season last year.

While most teams will have a lot of spectacle around such a celebration, the Bears plan on having a much simpler affair. Long time Bears forward Calude Giroux believes that's for the best.

"Being the best team in the regular season is great but only if you follow that up with a Continental Cup," said Giroux, "We failed to deliver on our own expectations in the playoffs so I don't think we should be celebrating too hard on Saturday."

Expectations for the Bears this year shouldn't be much different than they were last year. The team returns almost every player from last season and have replaced the few absentees with what they consider to be upgrades.

The biggest change will come between the pipes where veteran Tomas Vokoun was not signed and was replaced by Olympian Roberto Luongo. 25-year-old Braden Holtby is back after his fantastic rookie season which saw him earn both the Teemu Selanne Trophy (Top Rookie) and the Ken Dryden Trophy (Top Goalie).   

The entire 2013-14 defensive corps returns this year and is led by veterans Brooks Orpik, Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid, Nik Grossman and Rob Scuderi. Sophomore Jared Spurgeon appear ready for more responsibility and could lead the offensive attack from Acadia's blueline. An already impressive defence has been bolstered by the addition of rookie Jacob Trouba of whom much is expected.  

"Jake has really impressed us though camp and the pre-season," said coach Dave Hakstol, "I feel very confident that he'll be able to play a big role for us this year."

There are a few alterations to the forward lines but again, what the team considers to be upgrades in each case. Out are forwards Peter Mueller (in Europe) and both Beau Bennett and Matt Frattin have lost their roster spots in camp and will start the new year on the farm with the Val d'Or Villains. Also not back is Tomas Kopecky who played well in the regular season after being picked up at the trade deadline but who disappeared completely in the playoffs.

Newcomers to the Bears SICHL roster are Chris Kreider, added via trade last year with Denver for Johnny Gaudreau, and rookie Reilly Smith. Both youngsters performed well in camp although to start the year only one will dress among the top 12.

Joining the team as a free agent signing is utility forward Jay McClement who will be primarily counted on to help kill penalties. 

Acadia's forward combinations the last few days of practice have appeared like this:

Martin St. Louis - Claude Giroux - James Neal

Ryan O'Reilly - Brandon Dubinsky - Jordan Eberle

Chris Kreider - David Desharnais - Dustin Byfuglien

Jay McClement - Sean Couturier - Troy Brouwer

Reilly Smith - Max Talbot

"I really, really like our forward depth coming into the year," said GM Guy Flaming, "For the first time in our history I think it's fair to say that we have guys playing on our 3rd and 4th line that could be 1st line players on a lot of teams in the league. Some might suggest that could lead to problems in the room, good players not getting enough ice time, but I know that our coach will be able to get guys involved in all facets of the game."

When Troy Brouwer was asked about his role this year he didn't indicate any hint of a problem.

"I think we'll be rolling all 4 lines and I know I'll be seeing power play time and maybe kill some penalties too so there will be enough ice to go around," he said. "Around here it's 'Team First' and anyone who doesn't buy into that...well, we probably don't want him around anyway. Thankfully, this group is all on the same page."

Alternate Jersey Schedule 

Acadia will don their sharp 3rd jerseys a total of 10 times this season. Home fans will get to see the alternates in action for these games:

Day 7 vs Winnipeg Falcons
Day 22 vs Brandon Wheat Kings
Day 50 vs Stockholm Cougars
Day 73 vs Reykjavik Riders
Day 81 vs Montreal Millionaires
Day 92 vs Quebec Canons
Day 100 vs Edmonton Supersonics
Day 111 vs St. Louis Spartans
Day 129 vs Toronto Titans
Day 145 vs Ottawa Slammers
 

Bears Tracks

  • Forward Justin Kirkland is a point per game player through his first 19 games of the season with the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. The Camrose native has 8 goals and 11 assists. (Drafted 3rd Round 2014)
  • Goaltender Tristan Jarry is again playing like one of the top goaltenders in the CHL. The Edmonton Oil King just appeared in the Subway Super Series for Team WHL and will be one of the four goalies vying for a roster spot with Hockey Canada for the 2015 WJC. (Drafted 1st round 2013)
  • Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans was the other WHL goalie during the Subway Super Series and will also compete in camp for Canada in hopes of playing in the 2015 WJC. (Drafted 2nd Round 2013)
  • Forward Michael McCarron of the London Knights is having a fantastic second year in the OHL. McCarron struggled to produce last season but this year he already has piled up 21 points in just 12 games. (Drafted 1st Round 2013)
  • Brandon Wheat Kings forward Peter Quenneville has also been a big producer early this year having picked up 21 points in 20 games. (Drafted 7th round 2013)
  • On the injury front, Nicolas Aube-Kubel has been sidelined with a knee injury and which could affect his availability for Canada at the 2015 WJC. (Drafted 2nd Round 2014)
  • Stefan Noesen, after missing the entire 2013-14 season due to injury, is out until January after suffering an achillies tendon injury.
  • Forward Jaden Lindo has finally begun his season with the Owen Sound Attack after missing the first two months of the season with injury. (Drafted 6th Round 2014)
  • Teammates Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly have 11 points each for the Miami RedHawks after that team's first 10 games. (Drafted 5th Round 2012 and 4th Round 2011)
  • Sophomore Adam Gilmour is amongst scoring leaders for Boston College. (Drafted 4th Round 2012)
  • Defenceman Colton Parayko has been named captain of the Alaska Nanooks for the season and currently leads the club in scoring from the blueline. (Drafted 3rd Round 2012)
  • The reigning USHL MVP, defenceman Brandon Montour, is once again leading the league in scoring by a defender as he has racked up 16 points through 13 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks. (Drafted 3rd Round 2014)

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