Why one dust-up shouldn't mean the end of the post-game handshake
University teams reminded to behave after Panthers, Axemen scuffle during post-game ritual
Atlantic University Sport is sending a reminder to all teams about its code of conduct after an on-ice scuffle during the handshake at the end of the UPEI Panthers and Acadia Axemen hockey game last Friday.
The Axemen defeated the Panthers 5-4 in a shootout at the Bell Aliant Centre. During the customary handshake at the end of the game, words were exchanged that led to a dust-up between most of the 40 players on the ice.
Fourteen penalties were handed out after the game, nine to UPEI and five to Acadia. UPEI's Riley Whittingham received a two-game suspension for instigating a fight with Acadia's Liam Maaskant.
Pierre Arsenault said it's the first time in his four years as sports chair for AUS men's hockey that he has seen a brawl like that at the end of a game. He said whenever an incident happens that is outside the norm — "and this would be that case" — it's fair to question the best way forward, but he hopes it doesn't lead to the end of the post-game handshake.
The reason why it exists are the right reasons in terms of celebrating sportsmanship at the end of the game and we expect that our students athletes and coaches can handle that appropriately.– Pierre Arsenault, sports chair for AUS men's hockey
"I think it would be disappointing if we came to the conclusion that we had to do that because we can't trust our student athletes and coaches to be professional after the conclusion of a game," he said. "That protocol is not a hockey protocol, it's a protocol that exists in all of our AUS sports."
Because university sports teams are now on the Christmas break and won't resume until the new year, Arsenault said it's a good time to let things cool down and remind teams of their expected behaviour — and the significance of the post-game handshake.
"The reason why it exists are the right reasons in terms of celebrating sportsmanship at the end of the game and we expect that our students athletes and coaches can handle that appropriately," he said.
The Panthers and Axeman play again Jan. 13 in Wolfville, N.S., before returning for a matchup in Charlottetown on Jan. 20.
With files from Laura Chapin