Fifteen players and the head coaches of the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and the Acadia Axemen have been suspended for the remainder of the Atlantic university hockey season and, for two players, into the playoffs.
Further sanctions stemming from Saturday’s ugly brawl in Wolfville between the Axemen and X-Men are forthcoming as Atlantic University Sport completes a secondary review process.
The AUS announced the automatic suspensions to both teams on Wednesday, totalling 39 games. The suspensions take effect immediately.
“One of the reasons we don’t have fighting in university sport, is an attempt to change the culture in the hockey world,” AUS executive director Phil Currie said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“I think potentially, this is related to a cultural issue and (it’s) not acceptable in a university environment. We don’t condone it in any way, shape or form. We will do everything possible in the future to prevent these types of things happening.”
Thirteen players (five from the Axemen and eight from the X-Men) and head coaches Darren Burns of Acadia and Brad Peddle of St. F.X. each received two-game bans. Both the Axemen and X-Men have two games remaining in their regular season schedule. Acadia will play with a depleted lineup Wednesday night when they visit the Saint Mary’s Huskies at the Halifax Forum.
X-Men defenceman Aaron Hoyles was handed five games for leaving the bench during a fight and a game misconduct for being the third man in a fight. It was his second game misconduct of the season.
Axemen forward Cole Reginato earned a four-game suspension for leaving the bench during a fight and a subsequent fighting major.
“Every suspension announced today is automatic,” Currie said. “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, and so forth.
“These would normally have been confirmed right after the game. But given the unprecedented number of players involved, the AUS hockey chair and I felt it was necessary to take the time to review all materials available to us and ensure nothing was missed by the officials who were dealing with a chaotic and dangerous situation in real time.”
Now that the automatic suspensions have been confirmed, the AUS disciplinary process will continue and supplementary discipline will be handed down once the secondary review has been completed.
Five players and three coaches — Peddle, Hoyles and forward Mark Tremaine from St. F.X. and Burns, Reginato, assistant coach Kris MacDonald and forwards Rodney Southam and Owen MacDonald from Acadia — will be subject to the in-depth review process.
The AUS playoffs are expected to begin next Wednesday and based on the current standings, St. F.X. and Acadia would meet in the best-of-three quarter-finals.
“I think we’re pretty close in determining who’s going to be playing in that series,” Currie said.
The players and coaches subject to the secondary review, which is expected to be completed within a week, will be not permitted to play or coach until the process is finished.
“It’s highly possible and likely until these investigations are completed, we would prevent any of these individuals being reviewed on the ice or on the bench,” Currie said.
“There’s more to come. What we did is separated the pure hockey pieces in reference to fighting and the rules as they exist. That’s what you see in terms of the sanctions today. It was important to get (these sanctions) right in our first approach with this.
“In reviewing the tape and identifying those issues, we are also working to identify the more egregious student-athlete activity that we saw. Going forward there will absolutely a review of the incident from the individual’s that were the biggest perpetrators.”
The following is the complete list of automatic suspensions:
- Darren Burns (two games)
- RodneySoutham (two games)
- Owen MacDonald (two games)
- Cole Reginato (four games)
- Ross MacDougall (two games)
- T.J. Fergus (two games)
- Loch Morrison (two games)
- Brad Peddle (two games)
- Mark Tremaine (two games)
- Sam Studnicka (two games)
- Aaron Hoyles (five games)
- Regan Spears (two games)
- Nathan Pancel (two games)
- William Bower (two games)
- William Thompson (two games)
- Bailey Webster (two games)
- Cole MacDonald (two games)