An AUS men’s hockey brawl between the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men and the Acadia University Axemen has sparked further controversy after a statement from StFX forward Sam Studnicka, and a response from Acadia forward Rodney Southam.
The brawl broke out during the second-last weekend of the regular season, on Feb. 2, at an Acadia home game in Wolfville, NS.
A video of the incident portrays StFX as the aggressor, but X player Sam Studnicka has alleged that an Acadia player sparked the brawl by aiming an insult regarding a sexual assault survivor at him.
Studnicka claims that he has been the target of insults regarding the sexual assault survivor over the course of his 3-year AUS career.
“Another comment was made during the third period of Saturday night’s game,” Studnicka 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.”
The fights started when Studnicka lined up for a face-off after an Acadia goal against the player who he claims had insulted the survivor. In the video, Studnicka and Acadia player Rodney Southam can be seen exchanging words before the altercation begins.
The brawl resulted in both head coaches and numerous players from both teams being ejected from the game.
StFX head coach Brad Peddle also released a statement in support of his players. “After 14 years of coaching at the university level, I do not condone fighting in our league and I completely understand that fighting is not a part of our game. What I do understand and support completely is the actions of my student-athletes and how they chose to stand up for their teammate on an issue that is more important than winning a hockey game.”
AUS announced the suspension of 15 players and both team’s head coaches as a result of the brawl, including six Acadia players and nine from StFX. All players who left the bench received an automatic two-game suspension.
A secondary investigation will now begin to look into the allegations made by Studnicka and Peddle, which AUS executive director Phil Currie called “troubling.”
In a statement released Wednesday after the initial suspension was announced, Acadia acknowledged that one of its players “made an inappropriate comment containing a particular word to a StFX student-athlete during the third period of Saturday’s game.” The statement continued, “The Acadia student-athlete admitted and took responsibility immediately after the game and extended an apology. This information was shared with AUS. Acadia disputes that the comment was made deliberately or that it was made with the intent and in the context in which it has been portrayed in mainstream and social media. Acadia’s student-athlete looks forward to the opportunity of providing this information to the review of the events currently being conducted by AUS.”
On Thursday night, Rodney Southam released a statement through Acadia taking responsibility for what he said to Studnicka. “In the heat of the moment, I singled him out, saying ‘You look like a little ******* rapist.’”
Southam does, however, dispute the intent. “In my year and a half at Acadia, we’ve had battles with StFX but nothing to do with comments around sexual violence. I’ve read in the StFX statement that those types of comments have been a continuous and ongoing part of the games between our teams, but this issue has never come up in our locker room or any other time during my year and a half at Acadia.”
In Acadia’s statement they said that they and StFX are working together on a joint statement to be released at an appropriate time in the future.