Offensive Prowess, Grit & Leadership
The Acadia Axemen will be hosting the USports men’s hockey University Cup this March in Halifax, and their lineup received a major bolster with the news of the return of defenceman Liam Maaskant and forward Stephen Harper.
Both players graduated this past April, but will be returning to Acadia University in September, looking to complete some unfinished business, in their quest to take home the University Cup this spring.
Harper, who played his junior career in the OHL has been an offensive force in his 3 years with the Axemen, scoring 101 points in 86 games, plus 16 points in 16 AUS/USports playoff games. The Hamilton Ontario native led the AUS in scoring in 2017-18 with 46 points in 30 games. Stephen was named to the AUS All-Rookie Team in 2016-17, and was named AUS First Team All-Star & 2nd Team U Sports All Canadian in 2017-18.
Harper’s final status with Acadia for the upcoming season will depend on the results of attending the Buffalo Sabres camp in September.
Coach Darren Burns shared the team’s excitement saying, “We are very excited about Stephen’s decision to return to Acadia. He is a premier player in USports hockey and obviously he will play a key part in a national championship year for us. We feel he will be an excellent leader on and off the ice. He is returning to the Buffalo Sabres camp in September and we know this will be pivotal step in earning a pro contract.”
Meanwhile, Maaskant, who also played in the OHL through junior, and served as the Axemen captain last season, will return and likely where the ‘C’ again this upcoming season. In 104 career regular season USports games over his 4 years with the Axemen, Liam notched 26 points while posting 362 penalty minutes, and 3 playoff points in 21 AUS/USports playoff games. Maaskant will anchor the defensive corps once again for the Axemen; the 6’4 215lbs blueliner is know for making the other team keep their head on a swivel through the neutral zone or pay the price on the receiving end of a thunderous body check.
On Maaskant’s return, Coach Burns added, “We are very excited to have Liam returning this year. He is an incredible leader here at Acadia, and his leadership will be crucial this season. He has gotten better every season he has played at Acadia and is an outstanding shut down defender who is one of the toughest players to play against in our league. There is no question, we need what he brings to the rink everyday in our lineup.”