Acadia, St. FX hockey teams involved in heated brawl
An Atlantic University Sport Men’s hockey game in Wolfville, N.S., became heated Saturday night as the Acadia Axemen and St. FX X-Men were involved in a wild brawl that is expected to result in numerous suspensions.
“Unbelievable, I have never seen this in 30 years of covering hockey in university,” said Acadia play-by-play broadcaster Len Hawley as the melee spilled into the Axemen bench.
The brawl started midway through the period after Acadia took a 4-2 lead on a shorthanded goal. Before the puck was dropped on the ensuing faceoff, St. FX forward Regan Spears appeared to throw the first punch, connecting with Axemen forward Rodney Southam.
The brawl escalated from there, as sticks and gloves went flying and players from both teams paired up and started swinging. The unexpected action caught the fans in attendance by surprise.
“We weren’t expecting that,” says Cody Myre, who shot one of a few videos of the brawl that went viral on social media. “My dad even made a comment about not seeing any fights tonight because it was the kind of game they wanted to keep their heads on for.”
It's unclear if there were any injuries, but videos posted to social media show players on both teams hurling profanities, striking each other, and grabbing each other's jerseys. The brawl between the two rival teams went on for nearly two minutes, before officials were able to separate all the players.
The game had to be delayed for approximately 20 minutes as the referees sorted out the penalties. When all was said and done, the referees had ejected 13 total players, both head coaches and assessed a total of 310 penalty minutes.
Now, the league says they are reviewing the incident, and expect to hand out several suspensions to both teams.
Phil Currie, the executive director of Atlantic University Sport, released the following statement to CTV News:
“We take this matter very seriously. Our top concern is always the safety and well-being of our student athletes. The incident is currently being reviewed by our AUS Men’s Hockey Commissioner, who will then hand down supplementary discipline where appropriate, in accordance with our men’s hockey regulations.”
As per the USports playing regulations, any player that receives a 10-minute fighting major is ejected from the game and handed a one-game suspension. Currie says the league's commissioner will be interviewing players and coaches in the coming days, before handing out discipline.
Cody Myre says from his viewpoint, there may have been some provocation that lead to the line brawl.
“It was crazy, from where we were sitting it looked like St. FX was squirting water at the Acadia boys on their way past the bench,” says Myre. “And that lead to two of them sort of agreeing on having a fight next shift, and as soon as they hit the ice, that’s what happened, they went at it.”
Harsh words were exchanged by the coaching staff as well, as the brawl spilled into the Axemen bench.
“Brad Peddle is up on top of the bench, talking to Chris McDonald, giving it to him and they’re going back and forth,” said Len Hawley on the AVR broadcast of the game.
While some fans may have enjoyed the extracurriculars, hockey experts are disappointed.
“They’re student athletes first, and fighting shouldn’t be part of the game. It isn’t part of the game on the U.S. side in Division 1 hockey, and it shouldn’t be at the USports level, because they are students first,” says former hockey executive Kevin Cameron.
Cameron played for St. FX in the early 1980s, when the AUS’s ‘No Fighting’ rule was passed. He says he understands tempers flare on the ice, but thinks that what occurred Saturday night in Wolfville is unacceptable.
“This is hockey played at the highest amateur level in Canada. Most of these student athletes have come through the Junior Hockey system, in fact almost all through Major Junior Hockey, where fighting is still accepted,” explains Cameron. “It’s remarkable when you think of the high level, the intense level that these young men play under that hockey has been eliminated to the extent that it has."
In what was a potential first-round playoff match-up, the Axemen were able to defeat the X-Men 6-3. But the result of the game was overshadowed by the bench-clearing brawl, and the suspensions that are sure to follow.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.