St. FX plans to appeal suspension of head coach after hockey brawl

The director of athletics and recreation at St. Francis Xavier University says he will file an appeal of the 10-game suspension handed to the men’s hockey coach following a brawl during a game.

In a statement released Wednesday, Leo MacPherson says St. FX respects the review and disciplinary process of Atlantic University Sport (AUS), “including the right to appeal.”

“We will be filing an appeal in respect to Coach (Brad) Peddle’s total game suspension,” the statement says.

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“The severity of the sanction fails to consider the historical context and the larger issue that ultimately triggered the event.”

On Tuesday, AUS announced the results of a secondary review of the brawl, which happened during the third period of a game between the St. FX X-Men and Acadia Axemen in Wolfville, N.S., on Feb. 2.

Following the brawl, 15 players and both head coaches were suspended for a total of 39 games. The secondary review process resulted in additional suspensions of eight games for the head coaches, meaning Peddle and Axemen head coach Darren Burns will sit out 10 games each.

The AUS men’s hockey sport chair Dave MacLean called the suspensions “significant” in a news release Tuesday, but did not provide any rationale for their length.

There continues to be conflicting accounts of what led to the melee, though.

On Feb. 4, St. FX player Sam Studnicka and Peddle released statements to the media alleging that Studnicka has been targeted with “insulting and derogatory comments on the ice pertaining to the shaming of a sexual assault survivor.” Both allege there has been an issue with the Acadia Axemen, in particular, for all three of Studnicka’s seasons in the AUS.

AUS executive director Phil Currie has confirmed there was an issue between the two teams two seasons ago involving comments of this nature, but said he believed the universities had dealt with the issue at the time and was unaware that it had continued.

Studnicka alleges that a comment was made again during the Feb. 2 game and that after the officials and coaches were notified, the other player was sent out to take a faceoff against him.

Currie told reporters that an Axemen player told Studnicka “you look like a ******* rapist” during the game.

Axemen forward Rodney Southam then released a statement of his own on Feb. 7, admitting he made the comment but arguing, “I was completely unaware of Sam’s relationship to a sexual assault survivor.”

For its part, Acadia University maintains the statements issued by Studnicka and Peddle are inaccurate.

“We are pleased that portions of those statements were confirmed as being unfounded, and that it has also been re-affirmed that violence is not a solution to issues occurring on and off the ice,” Scott Roberts said.

AUS says its secondary review did not confirm or deny that the allegations made by St. FX were accurate or inaccurate.

Meanwhile, the Axemen and X-Men face off in the first of a three-game playoff series Wednesday evening in Antigonish, N.S.


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