University hockey players in Nova Scotia could be facing suspensions after a bench-clearing brawl during the third period of a game on Saturday night.

It’s not clear what caused players from St. Francis Xavier University’s X-Men and Acadia University’s Axemen to toss their sticks and start swinging at each other in Wolfville.

Spectator Cody Myre said he believes Acadia may have been provoked.

“From where we were sitting it looked like St. FX was squirting water at the (Acadia) boys on their way past the bench and that led to two of them sort of agreeing on having a fight next shift,” Myre said.

“As soon as they hit the ice, that's what happened, they went at it,” he said.

Even the coaches lost their cool. A coach from Acadia can be seen on video using expletives while yelling loudly at his counterpart to “get control of it.” A St. FX coach can be heard responding, “Oh, you’re so tough.”

Kevin Cameron, a former hockey executive who played for St. FX in the early 1980s, said that he was disappointed with what he saw.

“They’re student athletes first and fighting shouldn’t be part of the game,” he said. “It isn’t part of the game on the U.S. side in (NCAA) Division I hockey and it shouldn’t be at the (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) level,” he added.

At the same time, Cameron said he’s surprised there isn’t more fighting in the league considering that nearly all of the university players had come through major junior hockey where fighting is accepted.

Canadian Interuniversity Sport passed their no fighting rule in the 1980s, and noted after Saturday’s incident that there is a suspension policy in place.

The regional league, Atlantic University Sport, said it takes the matter seriously.

AUS Executive Director Phil Currie said in a written statement that the league’s 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,” he added.

X-Men head coach Brad Peddle said in a written statement he is “upset with the incident.”

“We have asked the AUS to look into this incident and determine how it happened,” he said.