February 10, 2019 3:20 pm

Acadia, St. Francis Xavier to meet in first round of AUS men’s hockey playoffs for first time since brawl

Fri, Feb 8: A player for the Acadia Axemen is now taking responsibility for the comments that led to a brawl during a game against the St. Fx X-Men -- and says he wishes he hadn't said it. Sarah Ritchie reports.

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The Atlantic University Men’s Hockey playoff schedule is set and the opening round will be headlined by two teams that are still dealing with the fallout of a brawl that drew national attention and resulted in the suspension of both head coaches and 15 players.

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men and the Acadia Axemen will meet in a best two-of-three series starting on Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. AT, with The St. Francis Xavier hosting Acadia.

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The series will continue on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., with St. FX visiting Acadia. If necessary, a third game will be played at St. FX on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. AT.

Atlantic University Sport announced the quarterfinal matchup on Sunday, with UPEI and Université de Moncton set to meet this week as well.

READ MORE: Acadia player involved in hockey brawl said opponent looked like a ‘rapist’

Players with Acadia Axemen and St. Francis Xavier X-Men fought during a game in Wolfville, N.S., on Feb. 2, 2019.

The melee spread from the centre of the ice to both squads’ benches and was captured on video that was circulated widely online.

Six Acadia players and nine from the X-Men were handed automatic suspensions of between two and five games, totalling 39 games.

“It’s unfortunate that something like that is even possible in our locker rooms or within our teams in men’s hockey,” AUS executive director Phil Currie said at a news conference in Halifax on Wednesday announcing the suspension.

Acadia player Rodney Southam issued a statement on Thursday in which he said he told opposing player Sam Studnicka that he “look[s] like a ****** rapist” — a comment he wishes he could “take back.”

WATCH: Hockey teams involved in brawl had ‘agreement’ about on-ice comments two seasons ago: league

The statement came after St. Francis Xavier University issued a release Monday, alleging that the brawl began after Studnicka was targeted with a “derogatory comment related to a sexual assault survivor.”

Studnicka also issued a statement, saying that he has been “challenged in dealing with insulting and derogatory comments on the ice pertaining to the shaming of a sexual assault survivor” in his past three years in the system.

“It has taken an emotional toll on me, and it has been frustrating that one AUS hockey program, in particular, has elicited repeated on-ice comments directed towards me,” he said.

“There is no place for such comments within our society. Sexual assault is a very serious issue and there is simply no place for shaming sexual assault survivors, ever.”

Studnicka went on to say that X-Men head coach Brad Peddle brought up those comments with referees and with Axemen head coach Darren Burns in the game.

But the player who allegedly made those remarks, he said, subsequently took a faceoff against him.

For its part, Acadia also issued a statement Monday, saying that its understanding of the incident was not consistent with the assertions being made by St. Francis Xavier.

READ MORE: St. Francis Xavier coach, player allege hockey brawl started after comments ‘shaming sexual assault survivor’

Currie has filed additional complaints regarding five players and three coaches who were involved in the brawl after he looked at video evidence.

On Wednesday, Acadia University said in a statement that the brawl was “unacceptable,” that it accepted AUS’s ruling, that its player admitted to what he said and extended an apology after the game.

In a statement issued on Thursday, St. Francis Xavier University said Studnicka wants to focus on raising awareness and education on the issue of sexual assault and providing support for sexual assault survivors.

“He has spoken with Coach Peddle and other members of the athletic department about possible ways to move past this incident and transition into providing a positive mechanism for community involvement,” the statement reads.

“Mr. Studnicka and other student-athlete leaders plan on partnering with various groups on the St. FX campus to bring forth an upcoming initiative related to this issue and once plans are finalized further details will follow.”

With files from Jesse Ferreras 

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