15 university players suspended over weekend hockey brawl in N.S.
'There is no place for fighting in university sport,' says official
The governing body for university sports in Atlantic Canada has suspended 15 players and both head coaches because of a hockey fight that broke out last weekend in Wolfville, N.S., between the Acadia Axemen and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
The brawl started because a player on the former team made an inappropriate comment involving, Atlantic University Sport (AUS) said Wednesday, the word "rapist."
"We don't take that comment lightly at all," said AUS executive director Phil Currie.
"If you left your bench, you receive an automatic two-game suspension. If you were the third person in a fight, you receive an automatic two-game suspension."
"This whole situation is extremely disappointing," he added. "There is no place for fighting in university sport."
In all, nine St. Francis Xavier players have been handed suspensions adding up to 21 games. Six Acadia players have received suspensions adding up to 14 games.
Acadia head coach Darren Burns was suspended for one game because of a game misconduct penalty in Saturday's game and an additional game because an Axemen player was the first to leave the bench during the fight. St. Francis Xavier head coach Brad Peddle was suspended for two games because Saturday was his second game misconduct penalty of the season.
St. Francis Xavier player Sam Studnicka, among those now suspended, said earlier an opposing player had made a derogatory comment to him about a sexual assault survivor.
Acadia University on Wednesday acknowledged that one of its players "made an inappropriate comment" but suggested it was not deliberate. The school also said in a statement the player later apologized.
Due to the seriousness of the allegations, AUS said it will investigate further and might issue more suspensions.
Both St. Francis Xavier and Acadia have two games remaining in their regular season, but both lineups will be badly depleted. Acadia plays in Halifax on Wednesday night against Saint Mary's, while St. Francis Xavier will have a very tough task Friday night when they play against University of New Brunswick, the No. 2 ranked team in Canada.
Some of the suspended players will miss playoff games, which begin next week.
Barring any changes in the league standings, Acadia and St. Francis Xavier are on track to play against each other in the first round.
A St. Francis Xavier spokesperson said the school would not be commenting on the suspensions on Wednesday.