Acadia Prepares Title Defence

Training camp is complete. Cuts have been made. Acadia is ready to raise the banners to start the 2015-16 SICHL season.
by Marcel Cormier | November 21, 2015, 4:03 AM ET

The league is forcing Golden Bears fans to wait until the third night of the season before they can celebrate the team's third banner raising ceremony but once the new drapery is in place, reality will sink in.

Everyone will be gunning for the defending champions and the Bears all know it.

"When you are on top, everyone else is trying to knock you off," said head coach Dave Hakstol, "That's just sports. We know that we' ve got a target on our backs this year but really, that's no different than any other year is it?"

Acadia has definitely become public enemy number one for a lot of teams, fans and rival GMs across the SICHL. It became apparent on social media last year as the hashtag #AnyoneButAcadia was used by opposing fans on Twitter.

"That's what happens when one team has a lot of success and is able to sustain it for a number of years," said Acadia GM Guy Flaming, "It's not surprising and I'm sure if our fans didn't have a reason to cheer, they'd spend more of their time booing other clubs too."

Acadia completed training camp and their exhibition schedule and are now ready for the regular season to start. Flaming said that fans shouldn't read too much into their 3-5 pre-season record. 

"Obviously we were not always dressing a full line up and other teams weren't either," he said, "While I won't say that exhibition games are meaningless, their results certainly are."

The Bears have 18 returning members of the 2015 SICHL Continental Cup inclduing captain Brooks Orpik and leading scorer Claude Giroux. The basic summary of who is gone from last year's club and who is taking their place is this:

Out: Martin St. Louis, Andrew Ference and Roberto Luongo

In: Adam Lowry, Justin Braun and Cam Talbot

On the surface, two of the three seem like downgrades but in reality Lowry will begin the year on the 4th line or in the pressbox while it's actually Jordan Eberle who will move from lower on the depth chart to the top line. Cam Talbot becomes the new back up to Braden Holtby who is now done his understudy career.

Acadia's forward lines on opening night in Edmonton will feature Claude Giroux between Jordan Eberle and Dustin Byfuglien...Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan O'Reilly and James Neal on the 2nd line... Sean Couturier graduates from the 4th to 3rd line center with Troy Brouwer and Chris Kreider on his flanks...Jay McClement centers a combination of Reilly Smith, Craig Adams and Adam Lowry.

The blueline for the Bears is an evolving one but tentative combinations feature Orpik with Jacob Trouba...Jared Spurgeon paired with Jeff Petry...Justin Braun with veteran Bryce Salvador. Acadia also feels that they could go to the farm if necessarry and recall the likes of rookie Rasmus Ristolainen, Andrew MacWilliam or Brayden McNabb.

Of course the starting netminder duties this season fall to Braden Holtby who was the SICHL Rookie of the Year and Goalie of the Year in 2013-14 before playing back up to Luongo last season. Newcomer Cam Talbot will see spot duty behind Holtby this season.

3rd Jersey Dates

Acadia will wear their fantastic alternate jerseys on ten different home dates this season. After careful consideration and requests from other teams in the league, the Bears will treat their fans on the following nights:

Day 10 vs Quebec... Day 21 vs Toronto... Day 41 vs Las Vegas... Day 55 vs Ottawa... Day 73 vs Brandon... Day 83 vs Nova Scotia... Day 96 vs Boston... Day 108 vs Fredericton... Day 120 vs Hamburg and finally... Day 136 vs Vancouver.

Bear Tracks 

  • Acadia opens the 2015-16 schedule on the road in Edmonton before their own home opener the very next night with the Toronto Titans booked as house guests. Three of their first four games are on the road followed by four of five at home. 
  • In limited action, Bears prospect goalies are off to a fantastic start in the AHL this season. Tristan Jarry (1st, 2013) has a 1.64 GAA (2nd) and .938 sv% (4th). Eric Comrie (2nd 2013) boasts a 1.95 GAA and .937 sv% (both 5th). Anthony Stolarz (2nd 2012) is maintaining a 1.81 GAA (3rd) and a .934 sv% (9th).
  • Speaking of AHL success, it doesn't stop with Bears goaltenders but continues with their forwards and defencemen as well. Michael McCarron (1st, 2013) has 17 points in 17 games... Devin Shore (3rd 2012) has 10 goals and 13 pts in 14 games... Danny Kristo (acquired from CGY) has 13 pts in 12 games... Mikko Rantanen (1st, 2015) has 13 points in 11 games.
  • Rookie defenceman Brandon Montour (3rd 2014) leads all AHL blueliners in scoring with 17 points in just 14 games.  
  • In terms of only AHL rookie scoring, Acadia boasts the top 2 (McCarron and Montour), 4 of the top 7 (with Rantanen and Shore) and 5 of the top 13 (Shayne Gostisbehere).
  • On the WHL front, Giorgio Estephan (4th, 2015) has been impressive with 25 points in 22 games for Lethbridge...  Dominic Turgeon (2nd, 2014) leads the Portland Winterhawks in scoring with 22 points while Caleb Jones (4th, 2015) is 3rd in team scoring... Seattle T-Birds Ryan Gropp (2nd 2015) and Ethan Bear (4th, 2015) are both on better than point-per-game pace... Brycen Martin (3rd, 2014) is top 7 in WHL scoring by defencemen...  
  • Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood (2nd 2015) posted a shutout for team OHL in his appearnace during the CHL/Russia series. Blackwood is a favourite to get an invite to Canada's WJC camp in December.
  • In the QMJHL...Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2nd, 2014) is above a point-per-game pace.
  • Collegiate Golden Bears having noteworthy seasons include North Dakota freshman Brock Boeser (1st, 2015) who has a point per game... Cooper Marody (5th, 2015) who leads Michigan in scoring...

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