Atlantic University Sport (AUS) officials were aware two seasons ago of an issue with comments made between the Acadia Axemen and St. Francis Xavier X-Men, according to executive director Phil Currie. But Currie says at the time the universities told him they had resolved the issue by agreeing the comments were off-limits.
“After the agreement was done, we were made aware that there were comments made and the institutions kind of had addressed it themselves,” he said.
X-Men player Sam Studnicka and head coach Brad Peddle released statements Monday evening alleging that a brawl during a game Saturday night against Acadia was touched off by comments made to Studnicka “pertaining to the shaming of a sexual assault survivor.”
Studnicka alleges that comments of this nature have been directed toward him throughout his three-year career in the AUS.
“I feel this incident was very avoidable based on our repeated discussions about the situation,” Peddle said.
Currie told Global News earlier on Monday that he wasn’t sure whether the comments that led to the agreement two seasons ago were of the same nature as what’s been alleged by the X-Men organization. That will be part of the ongoing investigation into what happened Saturday night.
He also says universities are encouraged to resolve situations among themselves.
“If we were involved it might have been different, but (we) had to respect at the time the fact that institutions had agreed to address an issue,” Currie said.
“If it’s something that is extremely egregious then we’ll step in, and we weren’t aware of an egregious situation at the time.”
In a statement Acadia’s executive director of varsity athletics Kevin Dickie says the university in investigating “the validity of insinuations” being made about the incident.
It goes on to say that “the information we have gathered is not consistent with the allegations contained in the statements made (Monday) evening publicly by St. FX.”
Acadia did not say which information is in dispute and the statement says it will offer no further comment.
Studnicka’s statement alleges that the comments made to him Saturday night were addressed by Peddle to game officials and to Acadia’s head coach, Darren Burns, but that the “offending athlete” was sent to take the next faceoff against him.
Video of the game shows that just before the brawl broke out at the Acadia bench, Studnicka lined up for a faceoff at centre ice after a shorthanded Axemen goal in the third period. Rodney Southam lined up to take the faceoff against him. After two false starts, X-Men winger Regan Spears came into the faceoff circle, starting a melee that resulted in Studnicka and Southam fighting. Both were assessed five-minute penalties and game misconducts for fighting.
The AUS commissioner of men’s hockey is conducting the investigation into the brawl, which Currie says will include one-on-one interviews with those involved.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the AUS said it would be releasing a complete list of automatic suspensions on Wednesday morning and that the suspensions would take effect immediately.
The disciplinary process will continue after the suspensions are issued and further discipline will be issued once the review is complete.
“On the whole, this egregious incident flies in the face of our regulations, our policies and our values,” said Currie in the statement.
“Our student-athletes are students first and as such, our conference does not tolerate violence.”
Acadia is set to play its final two regular season games on Wednesday and Friday, while St. FX is scheduled to play Friday and Saturday.
Based on the current standings, the teams would meet in the first round of playoffs.
With files from Ross Lord, Alexander Quon